play therapy

Mountain Lion Counseling Room 2
Fox Counseling Room 1

“Birds fly, fish swim and children play.” 
~Garry Landreth

What is Play Therapy?

Play therapy differs from regular play in that the therapist helps children to address and resolve their own problems. Play therapy builds on the natural way that children learn about themselves and their relationships in the world around them (Axline, 1947; Carmichael, 2006; Landreth, 2002). Through play therapy, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others. Play provides a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows expression of thoughts and feelings appropriate to their development.


15 years of research in Play Therapy demonstrates: statistically significant effectiveness for children participating in play therapy; significant improvement in disruptive behaviors, internalizing problems, academic progress, relationships, self-concept, trauma, anxiety and impairment; reductions in externalizing, internalizing, aggressive, attention deficit, trauma, and somatization problems, as well as improvement in self concept, global functioning, relationship stress, development and social emotional assets; and support the use of play therapy with disrupted attachment, highly disruptive behavior, negative home environments, loss and bereavement, past trauma, PTSD, psychosis, autism, emotional disorders, aggression and developmental delays (find the full statement at

Click to visit Evidence-Based Practice Statement: 

Play Therapy on APT's website 

What are the therapeutic powers of play?

Play Therapy Competencies

Waiting Area

Fox Room Counseling Room 1

Expressive Play Area

Art Area

Nurturing & Aggressive Play Area

Shared Sand Tray Room

Mountain Lion Counseling Room 2

Nurturing Area

Expressive, Art, Aggressive Play Area

Nurturing and Expressive Play Area

One Side of the Room

Other Side of Room Facing Sand Tray Play Area

Wet and Dry Sand Tray Play Area

Sand Tray Area with small Shelves

Sand Tray Collection in Closet Area

“Play seems to always contain the possibility for children finding a new way, 
of opening unopened doors.” 
~Dennis McCarthy