Basic Play Therapy Ideas and Techniques

Written by: Emily Cordz

To the casual observer play therapy can appear to just be playing, but for children who can’t express themselves fully with words, or adults who are repressing issues, playing is a clearer form of communication. Repeated themes or actions in the process of playing lend key insights into the person. Different play therapy techniques can be used for different cases and people. One method doesn’t work for all situations, therapist need lots of different tools to help their patients. Let us now look at some unique play therapy ideas and activities for kids.

Fun Play Therapy Ideas and Activities


Puppets can be used in a number of ways as a play therapy activity.

They can be used as a pretend client who needs help with a similar problem. This allows the individual to separate themselves from the situation and look at it through a more objective eye, which can help them realize the solution to their own problem.

They also can be used to create imaginative stories. In these stories certain themes or characters will appear. The play therapist can talk to the person about the character. Why they do the things they do. Why they are always depicted as male/female/old/young/etc. These patterns help the therapist understand what is going on in the person’s life so they can help them.


Drawings are a great way to express something without words. There are many elements to them such as colors, topic of the drawing, and proportions of the pictures that help therapist understand their clients.

One drawing method would be for each color to represent a certain emotion and the person is to color a page full of colors to represent the different emotion they have felt throughout their life or during a certain event. The therapist and person then go over the picture and talk about the various aspect more in depth.

Another method is to draw an animal the person would choose to be if they could be any animal. Then together, the therapist and person discuss what about the animal is attractive to them, why they drew it in a certain way or with details of specific features.

Role Play

Role play can be effective for older children and adults who can express themselves better verbally.  This technique is similar using puppets in that it helps the person distance themselves from their problems to find a solution.

A popular scenario is for the person to pretend to be an expert on a certain topic hosted on a talk show. The show has people who call in to ask for advice about various issues and the expert offers them advice on how to deal with this.

Role play can also be used in imaginary situations that may or may not parallel issues the person is dealing with. The person is in charge of how the situations play out. Based on their directions the therapist helps them act out various situations. Afterward, they discuss what went on and why.

There are hundreds of different play therapy ideas that are employed by trained therapist to help people overcome their problems. No method works the same on two different people, but a skilled therapist will work to figure out a suitable method of therapy.

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Author Info

I have two goals every day, learn something new and write. If I have done that much, then it has been a good day. I have been a fitness instructor for 12 years and enjoy helping others discover the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. I like to learn at least a little about everything with my current focus being on wild foods, crafting, yoga and travel.