top of page

Play Therapy & Child Life

Play Therapy and Child Life are two developmentally appropriate ways of supporting children and families, but in different settings. Child Life is a service provided by Certified Child Life Specialists in pediatric hospitals and medical settings, while Play Therapy is provided by a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (or similar) in agencies, outpatient clinics or private practice settings.

What Is Play Therapy?

... toys are the child's words!


Play Therapy provides a way for children to express their emotions and experiences and to work through difficulties they may be having. Because children's cognitive and language abilities are not as fully developed as adults, and play is their natural medium for learning and processing events, play is our first choice in facilitating a child's understanding of the world and for developing socially appropriate coping skills.


Essentially, where an adult may "talk" about their feelings and experiences, 

a child will "play" about them.


"Initially developed in the turn of the 20th century, today play therapy refers to a large number of treatment methods, all applying the therapeutic benefits of play. 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..


APT defines play therapy as "the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development."

Eileen is a Professional member of the Association For Play Therapy. For more information on Play Therapy, please visit their website! 

What is a
Child Life Specialist?


"Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLSs) work with your child's healthcare team to reduce the distress associated with treatment and to create a more positive experience for your child and family.

Certified Child Life Specialists are educated in the psychosocial care of children and the developmental impact of illness, injury, and hospitalization. As integral members of multidisciplinary healthcare teams, child life professionals support pediatric patients and their families by working to reduce the fear, anxiety, pain, and suffering associated with illness, injury, and medical treatment. They use therapeutic play, preparation for procedures, and education to make potentially traumatic experiences less stressful. As a result, Certified Child Life Specialists increase patient satisfaction and contribute to improved healthcare experiences for the entire family." 


For more information, visit the Child Life website.

bottom of page