A Definition of Therapeutic Play

Therapeutic play has as its main objective the emotional well being of the child. It accomplishes this through the use of play and/or the creative arts – the ‘Play Therapy Tool-Kit TM‘.

It differs from fully fledged play therapy only in degree. Someone using therapeutic play such as a Care Worker or a Teaching Assistant would normally only deal with conditions at the left hand side of the spectrum. – see Therapeutic Play Continuum.
It may be used to treat or assist in alleviating a mild, one off emotional or psychological problem that is preventing the child from functioning normally.

Therapeutic play may also be used as a method of detecting more serious problems that may be dealt with by referring on to a play therapist, child psychotherapist or other mental health specialist. A therapeutic relationship is  established and because there is some degree of clinical responsibility clinical supervision is essential.

Anyone using therapeutic play skills should be bound by an ethical framework or code of ethics, either PTIrl’s or an equivalent professional organisation which would normally be specifieddown by the employing agency.

Therapeutic play has a valuable function in preventing children’s slight or mild problems becoming worse.

A recognised qualification is the Certificate in Therapeutic Play course. accredited by Play Therapy International (PTI) to whom Play Therapy Ireland is affiliated.