What is Play Therapy?
Play therapy is to children what counseling is to adults. Play therapy utilizes play, children's natural medium of expression, to help them express their feelings more easily through toys instead of words.
Here is a list of therapeutic toys that are commonly used in play therapy.
1. Nurturing/Family Toys
- Purpose: Build and explore relationships
- Dolls, baby bottles, blankets, diapers, doll house (furniture and doll family), puppet family (people and/or animals), miniatures, kitchen set (food, dishes, etc.), doctor’s kit.
- Doll family, doll house, baby bottle, variety of puppets, animal families, cars, money, cash, register, kitchen food, medical kit, phone, etc.
2. Fantasy/Pretend Toys
- Purpose: Express feelings, and play out roles/scenarios
- Dress-up clothes/hats, costume jewelry, puppets, miniatures, mirror, masks, play money, magic wand, vehicles (cars, trucks, rescue vehicles, planes), doctor’s kit, communication toys (phone, microphone, mailbox, etc.)
3. Expressive and Construction Toys
- Purpose: Express feelings, mastery, problem solving and creativity
- Arts supplies (markers, crayons, paint, paper, etc.), craft supplies (stickers, pipe cleaners, beads, popsicle sticks, tape), water, play dough, clay, building blocks, legos, cardboard bricks.
- Sand, water, paints, craft materials, clay, musical instruments, magic wand, dress-up clothes, etc.
4. Acting Out/Aggressive Release Toys
- Purpose: Expression, processing and mastery of fear and anger; Control
- Monsters and villains, heroes, plastic soldiers, dinosaurs, spiders, snakes, aggressive looking puppets and miniatures (ex. dragons, animals with teeth showing, etc.), rope, handcuffs, bop bag, toy guns/knives, dart gun.
- oBop bag, toy soldiers, guns (colored plastic-not real looking!), scary/aggressive puppets and animals (alligator, shark, etc), rubber knife, foam sword, handcuffs, etc
5. Movement and Motion Toys
- Purpose: Mastery, emotional outlet, and self-regulation.
- Balls, basketball/hoop, bubbles, ring toss, bean bags, target games, jump rope, hula hoop, music.