Play Therapy

What is play therapy?
Play therapy gives children a caring and confidential environment to play. It places as few limits as possible, but as many as needed for children to be safe, both physically and emotionally. Through play therapy, a child or youth may be able to express their experiences and feelings through play, deal with emotional problems, increase self-awareness, manage behaviour, develop social skills, cope with symptoms of stress and trauma, and restore a sense of well-being. Play therapists may work one on one with a child or with small groups.

Play therapy is also known as therapeutic play and can include:

  • art therapy
  • dance
  • storytelling
  • drama (role play)
  • creative visualization
  • music

For each of these types of therapy, the focus is on personal expression so you don’t need to have previous experience to benefit.

What types of challenges are best suited for play therapy?
Play therapy is usually best for children aged 2-11. It can be especially helpful for younger children and for those who have a hard time talking about their thoughts and feelings.

How long will it take?
This depends on the individual. Sessions are every week or two and usually last for 30-45 minutes. Parents often meet with the play therapist at the start of a session to share information and at the end of a session (or group of sessions) to learn more about their child. 

BC Children's Hospital

This is an agency of Provincial Health Services Authority, providing provincial tertiary mental health services to the citizens of British Columbia. Programs include: Adult Tertiary Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatric Services, Child & Adolescent Mental Health, Women’s Reproductive Mental Health, as well as the Provincial Specialized Eating Disorders Program for children and youth located at the BC Children’s Hospital.

Provincial Health Services Authority

Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) is one of six health authorities – the other five health authorities serve geographic regions of BC.

Ministry of Health

British Columbia Ministry of Health

RBC Children's Mental Health Project

RBC Children’s Mental Health Project is RBC's cornerstone “health and wellness” pillar; RBC Children’s Mental Heath Project is a multi-year philanthropic commitment to support community-based and hospital programs that reduce stigma, provide early intervention and increase public awareness about children’s mental health issues.

BC Children's Hospital Foundation

Through a wide range of fundraising events and opportunities, The BC Children's Hospital Foundation is united with its donors by a single, simple passion - to improve the health and the lives of the young people who enter BC Children's Hospital every day.