Play Therapy

What is Play Therapy?

Play is the natural form of communication for children.  Just as adults might sit and talk with someone about their emotions and/or problems, children communicate through their play.  Play is their language and toys are their words.  Play therapists are trained to understand what children are communicating through their play by looking at the metaphors and symbolism of the toys they use and the interactions in their play. 

The Association for Play Therapy (APT) is a national professional society.  Through APT professionals can earn certifications in play therapy which include Registered Play Therapist and Registered Play Therapist-Supervisors.  Each certification requires extensive education, training and supervision.  There are many models of play therapy and each therapists chooses a model that best fits their professional philosophies.  

Experiential Play Therapy (EPT) is a model of play therapy founded by Drs. Byron and Carol Norton.  It is a model in which the therapist is trained to become a partner in the child’s play.  The child directs their own play including the therapist. EPT allows children to rework their experience in an environment that helps them to approach their struggles so that they are able to regain the power that has been lost in the actual event or environment. 




“I had the privilege of working with a child with MMIHS.  This therapy allowed the child to have their special play time to work through issues they could not talk about.  Some of these issues included medical trauma, emotional isolation, low self worth and self confidence, peer struggles, feelings of inadequacy compared to others, and questioning “why me.”  Through the model this child was able to process these issues and overcome these struggles.  I saw this child become a strong and self-confident individual who had increased social interactions.”
- Jamie L.F. Straessler, LPC, RPT-S, STR
Licensed Professional Counselor
Registered Play Therapist/Supervisor
Registered Sandplay Therapist 

You can learn more about play therapy and find a list of play therapists through APT at:

You can learn more about EPT and find a list of therapists at: