what is play therapy

“Play is the most natural method of self-healing that childhood affords”

– Erik Erikson

Play therapy is a form of psychotherapy developed specifically for the treatment of children whose social and emotional development is hindered by drastic events or (psychological) problems. In play therapy, the therapist uses play as a tool to help the child understand and develop.

Play is the language of the child. Children naturally communicate their thoughts, feelings and experiences through play. Through play, the therapist can enter the child’s world and connect with the child. Children can explore their inner world and express and process feelings within this safe environment.

Play therapy falls under occupational therapy in the Netherlands. The focus in vocational therapy is not talking, but doing and experiencing during the therapy session.

for whom

Practice Noura focuses specifically on children from refugee and migration backgrounds.

Play therapy was developed for children between the ages of 4 and 12, but the nonverbal and experiential nature of play therapy sometimes makes this form of treatment appropriate for younger or older children as well. Practice Noura is also experienced in treating children over the age of 12.

Practice Noura focuses specifically on children from refugee and migration backgrounds. Practice Noura specializes in the treatment and counseling of children, who have had profound experiences during the war, flight and during their arrival in the Netherlands at the reception locations.

Play therapy transcends culture and language barriers because the child determines how he or she expresses himself or herself in play, including the cultural adaptation of play.


Noura specializes in therapy for children dealing with loss, grief and trauma due to war and migration.

Play therapy is used to process profound or traumatic events, such as the loss of a loved one, being bullied, experiencing or witnessing violence, a life-threatening illness or an unexpected disaster.

Sometimes it may be unclear exactly what is going on with a child or what is causing certain symptoms, but a change in the child’s behavior or well-being is noticeable, such as low self-confidence, crying spells, physically unexplained symptoms, or suddenly wetting the bed often again.

The therapist within practice Noura is broadly trained when it comes to treating children with a variety of complaints, experiences and backgrounds. In doing so, Noura specializes in cross-cultural therapy for children dealing with loss, grief and trauma due to war and migration.

Children with a diagnosis, such as trauma, depression or anxiety disorder, can also come to Noura. The therapist treats children and not diagnoses, but sometimes a diagnosis can provide guidance during the therapeutic process.

method of operation

Game features and game materials

In the therapy session, play materials are offered to enable various play functions, such as expression, regulation and expression of (blocked) emotions, acting out interactions, acting out dramatic events, getting in touch with bodily oriented experiences, experimenting with new visions or approaches and promoting creative thinking.

The therapist ensures that a variety of toys and expression materials are present for these play functions, such as sensory materials, materials for artistic expression, musical instruments, materials for concealment (if-or) play, construction and building materials, and (thematic) games, story stones and books. In addition, the therapist has experience integrating games and exercises focused on breathing and movement within play therapy.

Client-centered method

The therapeutic relationship plays an important role in play therapy. The play therapist works client-centered with a positive focus toward the child. This means that the therapist focuses on restoring and strengthening the child’s own abilities. Children decide what they want to play with and in what ways they want to express themselves.

The therapist listens and watches the play, follows the child and puts into words what is happening in the play. Often the therapist also plays along. In this way, the therapist enters the child’s experience and tries to understand the child. Within play, the therapist can also use play interventions.

At Noura, a parent or sibling may sometimes be involved within the playroom during the therapeutic process – if appropriate with the goals of the treatment plan.

Phases and Duration of Play Therapy

After an intake with the parent(s), observation sessions with the child begin. After three to five observational sessions, the therapist establishes a treatment plan with goals for therapy. The treatment plan is discussed with the parent(s) during a consultation. Then-when parents are behind the treatment plan-the therapeutic process begins. In addition to play therapy, the play therapist conducts periodic (approximately every 4 to 6 weeks, but varies by client) parent meetings to discuss the child’s progress and developments at home and in therapy. Psychoeducation can also be part of parent interviews.
The duration of the therapeutic course is different for each child. For example, one child has been in therapy for only a few months and another for more than a year. The conclusion of the trajectory is always done in consultation with the parents and the child, and concludes with a clear completion phase

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