Play & Creative Arts Therapy provides children with a number of creative mediums through which to explore their ‘inner world’. This article gives you a little glimpse into the Play Therapists tool kit and some of the uses that each creative medium provides for the children we work with.
Arts and Crafts
Drawing, painting and creating gives children a different way to express feelings without using words. It helps to develop creativity and for children to put imagery to thoughts and feelings to visualise their experiences in a different way.
Offering a range of musical instruments encourages communication through sound. This can be particularly powerful for children who struggle to talk, those who are selective mute or who have learning difficulties can find music a safe alternative way to communicate. The therapist is able to tune into the child’s non-verbal energy and find ways to connect where talking isn’t proving effective.
Through role play, children can ‘try out’ situations in a safe environment. They can embody characters and feel what it’s like to stand in another person’s shoes. The protection of the therapy space allows this to happen in a way that feels safe to explore alongside their therapist.
The use of puppets provides children with a safe distance to be able to talk about things that are challenging for them. The puppet becomes an extension of the child’s being, and can address issues that might be too painful for the child to address directly. This also can help the child and therapist to have a relationship through puppets, where a direct relationship might be too intense or difficult.
Dance and Movement
To encourage dance and movement, we include a range of scarves, long-tailed fans and pom-poms in our kit. Through expressive movement ‘feel-good’ chemicals are released, and children are able to experience their bodies and feelings in a different way.
The sand tray provides a contained space in which a child can play out a create a number of scenes using symbols and small world toys. The sand tray is a place where children will often access deep and subconscious play which can be a very powerful way to move children forward in the healing process.
There are a number of other toys and creative mediums that a therapist might include in their kit – we would also use storytelling and creative visualisation to help children imagine how things can be different in their lives.
The Power of Play is an incredible way for children to explore their experiences in a whole new way. The more creative resources in our tool kit the better. This facilitates the healing process so that there is more opportunity there for children to be able to make sense of their experiences in a meaningful way.
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