An Introduction to Play Therapy for Children

BY: Dr. Sagnik Mukherjee (MBBS; MD; MIPS; MIAPP)


An Introduction to Play Therapy for Children

Child-centered play therapy is a powerful therapeutic approach that has been used by mental health professionals for over a century. This type of therapy utilises play as a medium to enable children to express themselves, process their emotions, and come to terms with difficult issues in a safe and secure environment. Play therapy is a highly effective technique that helps children of all ages gain insight into their feelings, address problems, and develop healthy coping strategies. By establishing a therapeutic relationship between the child and the therapist, Play therapy can provide a wide range of therapeutic benefits for children. Let’s take a closer look at the history of play therapy, how it works, and why it can be such a powerful tool for children.

Historical Background of Play Therapy

The practice of using play as a therapeutic tool dates back centuries. However, it was not until the work of renowned child psychologist Dr. Viennese psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud in the late 19th century that Play Therapy began to gain recognition as an effective therapeutic method for helping children cope with challenging emotions and situations. Since then, numerous types of Play Therapy have been developed by various experts and practitioners. These include Child-Centered Play Therapy (CCPT), Cognitive Behavioral Play Therapy (CBPT), Experiential Therapeutic Play (ETP), Filial therapy, and more.

How Play Therapy Works

At its core, the goal of Play Therapy is to provide children with an opportunity to express themselves through play without judgement or criticism from adults or peers. A qualified play therapist will create a safe space for this expression by providing age-appropriate toys and activities that encourage exploration and self-discovery. The therapist will also provide guidance when needed to facilitate conversations or activities that are designed to help children better understand their thoughts and feelings.

Benefits of Play Therapy for Children

There are numerous benefits associated with the use of play therapy for children, including emotional regulation, cognitive development, improved social skills, behaviour modification, increased self-esteem, communication skills, conflict resolution skills, problem-solving abilities, trauma management, stress management, greater insight into behaviour patterns, improved relationships with parents/guardians/peers, etc. It is important to note that these benefits will vary depending on the individual needs of each child; however, they can be life-changing when properly utilised within a therapeutic context.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Play Therapist

When seeking out a qualified professional play therapist it is important to consider both their qualifications and experience. You should also ask about their approach towards play therapy sessions – what kind of activities do they use? How do they respond to questions? How often do they provide feedback? Additionally, your comfort level in communicating with your chosen therapist should be taken into account; if you don’t feel comfortable speaking openly with them then it may not be the best fit.

The power of effective play therapy for children cannot be overstated; it can be a highly effective tool for helping them navigate difficult emotions while developing problem-solving skills, positive relationships, and communication techniques which can have long-lasting positive effects on development throughout childhood and beyond. When selecting a play therapist you must research their qualifications thoroughly before making any decisions; finding someone who has experience working with children in similar circumstances as your child while also being able to create an atmosphere where your child feels comfortable expressing themselves freely is key.

Ultimately, if chosen correctly, therapy with children can give them an invaluable platform through which they can learn more about themselves and their everyday life while also developing healthy coping mechanisms that will stay with them long after the therapy ends. You can start by talking to your child’s doctor or a mental health professional such as Mental Health Research Centre in Kolkata Call 098313 13020 for more information.


Dr. Sagnik Mukherjee, a distinguished Consultant Neuro-Psychiatrist, brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the field of mental health. With an academic background that includes an MBBS from Calcutta National Medical College, Kolkata, and an MD from SVS Medical College, Hyderabad, he has garnered recognition as one of Kolkata’s leading mental health professionals. Dr. Mukherjee’s illustrious career has seen him contribute his skills and knowledge to esteemed institutions such as Chittaranjan Hospital, SVS Medical College & Hospital Hyderabad, KPC Medical College, and Iris Hospital. Currently, he serves as a consultant at the Mental Health Research Centre in Kolkata, located within the Marwari Relief Society Hospital, Bara Bazar. His areas of specialization encompass Child and adolescent psychiatry, de-addiction, schizophrenia, depression, and various types of anxiety disorders. Dr. Sagnik Mukherjee’s commitment to the field is underscored by his active participation in numerous international and national seminars on Psychiatry and mental health. His dedication and expertise make him a highly respected figure in the realm of mental health care in Kolkata.