Could Play Therapy be an Answer to Helping Your Child?

As part of our commitment to improving the quality of health of citizens in all the communities we serve, Central Ozarks Medical Center is also dedicated to providing behavioral and mental health services in mid-Missouri. We know that one size does not fit all, and we offer a variety of therapies to our patients to allow them to choose the one that is the best fit for them. One of those therapies that we offer for children, is called play therapy. Instead of having sessions in a clinical office type setting, play therapy is conducted in a safe and therapeutic playroom and can be very effective in helping children to express things they are unable or unwilling to articulate verbally. If you are interested in learning more about play therapy in central Missouri, how it works, and how it may benefit your child or a child you know, we encourage you to read on!

What is play therapy like?

Play therapy is all about creating an environment where the child feels safe and comfortable and does not have a lot of rules or restrictions. The therapist will focus mostly on observing the child and how the child plays. The therapist may be non-directive and simply observe the child and how he or she plays, reacts, or solves problems. Or the therapist may offer a little bit of input and direction to help produce results more quickly. The therapist may switch back-and-forth between directive and non-directive. From his or her observations, the therapist is able to make some assessments or interpretations that can give insight into the child’s feelings and experiences and then offer potential coping techniques, interventions, or therapies. 

How are toys used?

The toys available to the child may include stuffed animals or perhaps a dollhouse filled with figures like mom, dad, grandparents, siblings, etc. Play therapy may include crafts like drawing or painting as well. In this environment, the child feels free to play as they wish, without fear of doing something wrong or getting in trouble. As the child feels safer, he or she is able to demonstrate things like abuse or anger in the way they play with the dolls and have them interact. Much of this can be beyond their cognitive ability to articulate but can be observed by a play therapist. As issues are identified through these observations, the therapist can then help teach the child healthier ways to express their feelings, better ways to solve problems and frustrations, and even learn more about interpersonal relationships and how people should be treated.

When is play therapy helpful?

Play therapy can be very effective for children who have witnessed trauma, natural disaster, violence or abuse, and those with behavioral disorders, depression, and anger. Play therapy can also be helpful for those on the autism spectrum, those with attention deficit disorder, and much more. When a child is having challenges and is unable to articulate or express what they are feeling, it’s a good idea to ask about play therapy. Your behavioral health care specialist in central Missouri will be able to guide you as to whether play therapy is likely to be effective for your child.

At Central Ozarks Medical Center, we care about your mental health, and we want to offer resources for people of all ages. Play therapy is one of the great options we offer for behavioral and mental health therapy in mid-Missouri. It is just one of many therapies offered at our clinics at the Lake of the Ozarks and surrounding areas. If you would like to see some of the other therapies we offer, you can go to and scroll down our home page, then click on Behavioral Health. If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. If you are interested in staying up with all our latest announcements and helpful health tips, be sure to follow us on social media using the links below.

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Serving Camden, Laclede, Pulaski, and Miller Counties. Coming soon to serve Morgan County.