Play therapy is a technique used by trained play therapists to work with children in the language kids know best ? the language of play. In the safety of the play room, children work through their issues with the toys they choose, innocently revealing their deepest wishes, fears, and hopes. Play is a means of testing, partly incorporating, and mastering external reality while providing a non threatening environment and a flexible atmosphere. Children are able to find out what the world is like, try on different roles, and cope with conflicting emotions. The therapist provides children with unconditional positive regard, while at the same time gently but firmly establishing limits within the structure of the play therapy session. This relationship allows children to develop trust, self confidence, and improved self worth.
There are many experiences in childhood in which children feel they have little or no control. Play is a child's way of working out accompanying feelings of anxiety and fear and reestablishing some sense of balance and control in their lives, in an environment they can control. It is this sense or feeling of control, rather than actual control, which is essential to emotional development and positive mental health. The story can be what the child wants it to be. In the safety of play, the child can confront monsters, fantasy characters, and frightening experiences with real people and be in charge of the outcome. As children work through their issues in play, problematic symptoms decrease and improved coping is visible in their actions out of the play room, as children are able to express, control, and ultimately release powerful feelings.