Child Play Therapy | Industry Acceptance of Child Play Therapy

What is Child Play Therapy?

Child Play Therapy is an orientation of therapy specifically designed for children ages 3-9.  Play therapy is essential for children this age, because children have not fully developed  cognitively or can effectively communicate their feelings, thoughts, and/or experiences.

How Child Play Therapy Began

Play Therapy’s roots began in the early 1900s with pioneers such as Sigmund Freud, who  impacted the life of a little boy named “Hans.”  Freud never worked directly with Hans, but instead encouraged Hans’ father to observe his child and note his behavior.  With this  information, Freud was able to work directly with the father, which benefited Hans.

In 1921, Hermine Hug-Hellmuth was the first therapist to steer away from traditional talk therapy and provide materials for children to “express” themselves.  Melanie Klein and Anna Freud also began focusing on techniques specifically for children.  David Levy furthered the work of Hug-Hellmuth and purposely introduced toys into play therapy that related to the child’s presenting issue.  In the 1950’s, Virginia Axline, a student of Carl Rogers, recorded “Dibs,” a masterpiece about the interaction of a therapist and child based on Rogers’ core principles of empathy, unconditional positive regard with an emphasis on setting boundaries.

Garry Landreth expanded on this work to create Child-Centered play therapy, which is the play therapy approach practiced by Life Tree therapist, LaShondra Manning.  Child-Centered play therapy is non-directional, led by the child with special therapist focus and attention given to the child, while setting boundaries.

Child Play Therapy is widely accepted by the counseling field and many local counseling graduate programs teach play therapy such as University of North Texas and Texas A&M University-Commerce.  Continuing education opportunities are also available by the  Association.

Want more information about Child Play Therapy? Give our LifeTree Counselors a call at (972) 234-6634


Kathleen Mills

Kathleen is a creative and gifted therapist who has extensive experience in helping children, adolescents, and adults with a variety of issues.