Play and Child Play Therapy


From newborns to teenagers, children use movement, language, and symbols in their play actions to express themselves and make sense of the world around them.


Normative is play focused and joyful, and engaged in for no other reason than a child’s pleasure. In the state of play, children are more available to learn.


During the early years the opportunity for play is fundamental to healthy childhood development, and proven to be an important precursor to the development of literacy and critical thinking.

Watch: Dr. Stuart Brown’s fantastic TEDTalk on Play
(Recommended playback speed 1.5)

Child Play Therapy

A mental health intervention that is…Evidence-based,

Theoretically derived,

Developmentally sensitiveA mental health intervention that is…Evidence-based,

Theoretically derived,

Developmentally sensitiveA mental health intervention that is…Evidence-based,

Theoretically derived,

Developmentally sensitiveUtilises PLAYA child’s most natural medium for self-expression of their inner worldProvided in a safe, nurturing environmentIn which a healing therapeutic relationship can develop between
Child Play Therapist and client

The Therapeutic Powers of Play

The ‘Therapeutic Powers of Play‘ are the mechanisms play therapy utilises to facilitate growth and positive change.

Facilitates Communication

Self expression

Access to the unconscious

Indirect teaching

Direct teaching

Increases Personal Strengths


Problem solving


Accelerated development
Moral development

Enhances Social Relationships

Social competence
Therapeutic relationships

Fosters Emotional Wellness


Counter-conditioning fear
Positive emotions
Stress inoculation
Stress management

” The play-therapy room is good growing ground….here he can unfold his wings; he can look squarely at himself, for he is accepted completely; he can test out his ideas; he can express himself fully; for this is his world…”
Virginia Axline
Virginia Axline
” Toys are used like words by children, and play is their language. ”
Garry L. Landreth
Garry L. Landreth
” In play a child always behaves beyond his average age, above his daily behavior. In play it is as though he were a head taller than himself. ”
Lev Vygotsky
Lev Vygotsky
” Nothing lights up a child’s brain like play.”
Dr. Stuart Brown
Dr. Stuart Brown

Benefits Of Child Play Therapy

Clinical evidence supports the use of Child Play Therapy with clients of varying backgrounds and presentations.

It is effective in improving the experience of social, emotional or behavioural challenges. This is possible through:

  • Reduction of disruptive behaviours, anxiety, problems with attention and focus.
  • Improvement of emotional self-regulation, self-awareness, confidence, identity, social skills, and academic success.
  • Improvement of individual family-member relationships and overall family functioning.

Click here to access the Association for Play Therapy (US) research summary documents

Click here to link to the Association for Play Therapy (US) ‘Parents Corner’ for some great resources on play therapy and coping

Who Can Benefit From Play Therapy

Children & Families

  • Family structural changes
    (divorce, death, a new sibling)
  • Life changes
    (change in living circumstances, a new school)
  • Stress
  • Social, emotional or behavioural challenges
  • Trauma, both past or ongoing

Children Living

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Disability, including learning disabilities
  • Illness or injury, acute or ongoing
  • Developmental delay
  • Mental health concerns, such as anxiety or depression

This list is by no means exhaustive

If you think your child would benefit from M.C.P.T. services please be in touch. It is possible to integrate services with those already in place, such as psychology, O.T. and speech therapy. 

If you are a parent or care-giver who would benefit from learning therapeutic play skills to support you relationship with your child, please be in touch.

If you are an organisation involved in paediatric education or care, and believe that your educators or carers would benefit from learning therapeutic play skills to support their educator-child relationships, please be in touch.