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(Denison, IA) – Play Therapy is described as a structured, theoretically based approach to therapy that builds on the normal communicative and learning processes of children. During National Play Therapy Week, February 4 – 10, Crawford County Memorial Hospital honors Jim Greenwood, LMHC, LMFT, RPT-S and Jill Wonder, LMHC, RPT, as Registered Play Therapists. Both Greenwood and Wonder, who are child and family counselors, say they strategically utilize play therapy to help children communicate what is troubling them. This is especially true when children do not have the verbal language to express their thoughts and feelings.

“Jill and I both utilize play therapy in working with children,” Greenwood said. “Play therapy builds on the natural way that kids learn about themselves and their relationships in the world around them.”

Wonder noted that play therapy originated in the early 1900s and has evolved dramatically as the understanding of mental health in children has improved.

“Jim and I employ play therapy to help children resolve their problems,” Wonder explained. “In many instances, children don’t have many of their own problem solving tools, and they misbehave. Usually this means the child is acting out at home, with friends, and at school.”

Greenwood added, “Children need help coping with difficult emotions and to find solutions to their problems. Play therapy allows children to change the way they think about, feel toward, and solve their concerns.”

According to the Association of Play Therapy (A4PT), play therapy is especially appropriate for children ages 3 through 12 years old. Teenagers and adults have also benefited from play techniques and recreational processes. To that end, use of play therapy with adults within mental health, agency, and other healthcare contexts is increasing.

“Each play therapy session lasts about 45 minutes or so, usually once a week until symptoms decrease and healthy life functioning occurs,” Wonder said. “Families also play an important role in the child’s healing process. In all cases, whether simple or complex, children and families heal faster when they work together.”