Toys encourage creative play in a Play Therapy office

The National Association of Play Therapy defines play therapy as “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.” Play therapy was initially developed around 1900 and today, it refers to many treatment methods.  Play therapy differs from regular play.  Registered Play Therapists help children address and solve their own problems, learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem solving skills, and learn new ways of relating.  Play provides a safe psychological distance from problems and facilitates developmentally appropriate thoughts and feelings.

How Does Play Therapy Work?

Children are usually referred to play therapy to solve problems and deal with issues that are troubling the child.  Often, children have used up their own problem solving tools and express themselves in negative ways, such as acting out at home, with friends, or at school.  Trained mental health practitioners use play therapy to help children cope with difficult emotions and find solutions for their problems.  By using a play therapy setting, children find healthier solutions and learn new ways of coping with their issues.

How Can I Learn More about Play Therapy?

For more information, you can contact the Iowa Association of Play Therapy Board or contact the Association for Play Therapy at or

Looking For a Registered Play Therapist?

We invite you to search the Association for Play Therapy Find a Play Therapist directory.