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Play Therapy

What is play therapy?

Play therapy is used to help meet the emotional needs of children who have an illness or surgery that requires hospitalization. Being in the hospital can be stressful for children and their families. Children may feel scared, confused, and out of control. Play therapy is used to help children understand and cope with illness, surgery, hospitalization, treatments, and procedures.

What is the goal of play therapy?

The goal of play therapy is to provide a family-centered approach to help your child adjust to hospital care. A child life specialist can help meet the emotional needs of children in the hospital by getting to know your child, giving him or her a chance to express himself or herself, and allowing him or her to adjust to being in the hospital through play therapy. Parents of infants are offered a chance to learn new skills to comfort their baby and ways they can encourage their baby's continued development while their baby is recovering in the hospital.

Child life specialists can help your child and the other children in your family with:

  • Play activities to prepare your child for medical procedures and learn about his or her surgery.

  • Relaxation and pain management skills.

  • Providing an opportunity for your child to express his or her feelings through normal play.

  • Brother or sister needs:

    • Children at home may be worried about their brother or sister who is in the hospital. They may be upset because mom and dad are away from them more than usual. The child life specialist can help you to answer questions you may have about any brothers or sisters at home.

    • Visiting the hospital can also be stressful for brothers and sisters. The child life specialist can help prepare brothers and sisters before they visit so they can understand what they see and how they feel before and after their visit to their sibling in the hospital.

Play Therapy - WellSpan Health

Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Turley, Ray, BSN, MSN
Last Review Date: 2014-11-04T00:00:00
Last Modified Date: 2014-11-06T00:00:00
Posting Date: 2008-11-30T00:00:00
Published Date: 2014-11-06T00:00:00
Last Review Date: 2007-03-30T00:00:00
© 2015 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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