Establishing a Common Ground
Theoretical Foundation of Play Therapy
Play is essential to the child's development. It is the way "children learn what no one can teach them…By engaging in the process of play, children learn to live in our symbolic world of meanings and values, at the same time exploring and experimenting and learning in their own individual way." (Frank in Landreth, 1991) According to Piaget a person does not reach the ability for abstract reasoning until the age of eleven, therefore play is how children bridge the gap between concrete experience and abstract thought.
Through play, children are able to organize their experiences and it is a time when they feel most in control and secure.
- Play is the language of the child
- Play is how children communicate and act out their feelings and experiences
- Play is a natural self-healing process for children allowing them to naturally and spontaneously express themselves and adjust to the changing world around them
When feelings or experiences are too intimidating, play allows the child to express directly what they cannot put words to because of their limited cognitive ability or because of the insecurity felt because of the experiences. Natural medium for self-expression, facilitates a child's communication, allows for cathartic release of feelings, can be renewing and constructive, and allows the adult a window to observe the child's world (Nickerson, 1973).