HomeHealth articlestalk therapyIs Talk Therapy or Play Therapy Better In Child Development?

Talk Therapy versus Play Therapy In Child Development

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Play is the juvenile language that boosts self-presentation and self-efficacy. In contrast, talk therapy is a therapeutic approach to problems. Read the article.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Vipul Chelabhai Prajapati

Published At October 24, 2023
Reviewed AtApril 13, 2024


When a child’s emotional and behavioral factors affect developmental and functional growth daily, psychological therapy like talk therapy and non-talk therapy can help them explore their feelings and inner desires in a safe, supportive environment.

What Is Play Therapy?

Play or non-talk therapy refers to a dynamic interpersonal connection between a child (of any age) and a therapist, which aims to apply the vital stages of play. Play therapy differs from traditional play in that the therapist permits youngsters to handle and resolve their crises. In-play therapy approaches deliver specific play materials and ease the development of a secure relationship for the child to fully express and probe themselves (emotions, opinions, experiences, and behaviors) through play mode. This approach also helps to communicate with others, express feelings, alter behavior, and formulate problem-solving skills for optimal growth and development.

What Is Talk Therapy In Child Development?

Psychotherapy is a form of psychiatric treatment or talks therapy in the juvenile stage, also called Child therapy (child counseling) and is equivalent to treatment and counseling for adults. The sole significant distinction between adult therapy and child therapy is ensuring children comprehend what is happening and how they are not alone. It is a therapeutic approach by mental health care workers or professionals to establish a safe space to listen while delivering tools to convey a modification in thoughts, emotions, and behavior.

How Does Play Therapy Work Differently From Talk Therapy?

  • Play Therapy:

Play therapy is the same approach that does to adults. Play is an uncultivated element of preadolescence and is vital in juvenile development. In play therapy, toys are like the youngster's words or phrases; in contrast, play is the kid's vocabulary or language because kids cannot process their feelings or fluent troubles to parents or other adults. Parents can start buying sensory toys for children when they are 1-year-old as these toys can help the children develop fine motor skills and eye co-ordination. Expertise utilizes play therapy to express child emotions or feelings that trouble them, and they cannot encounter words to describe their feelings. This happy relationship between therapist and kid delivers a secure space for healing.

Via play, mental healthcare professionals can assist children in learning more generous behaviors, understanding their emotions, and acquiring insight into resolving internal battles. Potential advantages of play therapy are:

  • Having self-responsibility for certain behaviors.

  • Formulating cope mechanisms and creative problem-solving dexterities.

  • Self-respect, empathy, and regard for others.

  • Alleviation of anxiety.

  • Learning to experience and express feelings fully.

  • Develop social skills.

  • Stronger family affinities and dynamics.

  • Enhance fine and gross motor skills.

  • Self-control, self-respect, the ability to articulate emotions, communication dexterities, and modifying annoyance behaviors.

Play therapy is advantageous for youngsters ages three to twelve. The ideal need for a therapeutic approach is when a child is in various circumstances, such as

  • Medical-related issues, chronic illness, or palliative care.

  • Disabilities in developmental aspects.

  • Struggling at home or school.

  • Aggressive or furious behavior.

  • Family issues, like divorce, separation, or death of a close family member.

  • Traumatic events or Natural disasters.

  • Domestic violence, abuse, or neglect.

  • Anxiety, depression, grief.

  • Eating and toileting disorders.

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (a chronic illness where hardship in sustaining attention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior).

  • Autism spectrum disorder (developmental disability because of differences in the brain where communication, behavior, and learning are different than others).

  • Hardships with siblings or peers.

  • Talk Therapy:

Psychological or behavioral therapy is most applicable for children over five years for better communication. Mental disruptions in preadolescence can yield long-term hardships that may impact the health and well-being of kids and families. Therefore, psychological therapy is a crucial component in improving mental health. When kids are young, it is expected therapy to include the parent. The most commonly used talk therapy in children is (CBT) Cognitive behavioral therapy. Illustrating the concept of CBT to juveniles is done simply to make things more manageable.

Mental healthcare workers furnish powerful ways for children to take command and empower themselves and teach children skills that are helpful immediately and regularly for the betterment of life. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can show miracle results, independently or in combination with pharmaceuticals or other therapies. Cognitive behavioral therapy help children learn to control the following:

  • Self-defeating thoughts.

  • Impulsivity.

  • Defiance.

  • Tantrums.

Substituting negative responses with

  • Improved self-image.

  • Develop new coping mechanisms.

  • Problem-solving skills.

  • More self-control and discipline.

What Are The Techniques Used By Therapists In Play Therapy?

Play therapy, the language of childhood, involves techniques primarily used by therapists in play therapy:

  • Innovative visualization.

  • Storytelling.

  • Melodic (music) play.

  • Toy phones and walky-talky.

  • Puppets, stuffed animals, and masks.

  • Water and sand play.

  • Arts and crafts.

  • Dolls, action figures.

  • Blocks and construction toys.

  • Dance, exercise, and creative movement.

  • Role-playing.

  • Board games.

  • Tea party play.

  • Card games.

  • Strategy games like chess or checkers.

  • Hide-and-seek.

  • LEGO play.

What Are the Types of Non-Talk Therapy And Talk Therapy?

  • Non-directive Play Therapy:

Non-directive play or client-centered therapy permits the youngster to pilot the play. The therapist uses contemplative listening to stimulate feelings and monitor behavior. The non-directive approach shows unconditional approval and trust. As a result, children understand their problems and operate toward solutions.

  • Directive Play Therapy:

In directive play therapy, the therapist plays a more significant role and enables the child to employ specific activities. Directive play has a pinpointed topic and goal to teach children skills.

Some common types of play are

  • Assessment Play: The therapist observes the juvenile in numerous plays to assess attachment, developmental level, mental health grade, etc.

  • Expressive Arts Therapy: Drawing, singing, painting, clay, poetry, dance, exercise or movement, etc.

  • Bibliotherapy: Takesbenefit from the books to analyze and teach concepts.

  • Filial Therapy (Child-Parent Relationships): Filial play therapy is a child-centered relationship enhancement family therapy that uses psychoeducation to train parents to engage in one-on-one play therapy interventions with their juniors. In addition, this practice strives to help youngsters to evolve and enhance their relationships by employing non-directive play exercises.

  • Sand Tray Therapy: The child emphasizes tactile and sensory mediums to symbolize telling their story in the sand.

  • Imaginary Play: Dress up, the doctor set, doll houses, kitchen, puppets, blocks, etc.

Talk therapy has different types of psychotherapy, which include the following:

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): To permit a child to comprehend and accept their inner emotions, and the therapy is related to a deeper understanding of emotional struggles to commit to moving forward positively.

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT): Helps to enhance a child's moods, anxiety, and behavior by analyzing confused or distorted thinking patterns.

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): Can treat older adolescents with recurring suicidal feelings/thoughts, who engage in purposefully self-harmful behaviors, or who have Borderline Personality Disorder. The therapy highlights taking accountability for one's issues and helps the individual probe how they deal with conflict and intense negative emotions.

  • Family Therapy: Priorities to help the family dynamics through communication, educative information on family relations and surrounding environmental impacts, and providing support. Family therapy sessions involve children or adolescents, parents, siblings, and grandparents for better translation of the issues.

  • Couples Therapy: Concentrates on a couple's relationship and communication (parents having marital problems which cause a profound impact on child psychology).

  • Group Therapy: It is a psychological approach where more than one therapists lead multiple patients. It is based on the power of group dynamics and peer interactions to increase the acquaintance of mental illness and improve social skills.

  • Interpersonal Therapy (IPT): This is exclusively for depressed clients, in which therapists concentrate on interpersonal events affecting an individual's emotional state.

  • Mentalization Based Therapy (MBT): It involves enduring children and teens who struggle with their identity and emotions and helping them to develop into healthy states of mind individuals.

  • Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT): It helps parents and children with behavior problems or connections. Parents have interactive sessions with their children, while therapists direct families toward optimistic relations.


Psychological therapy and behavioral therapy approaches are different from executing. Talk therapy helps better to understand the dynamics of own or with others. In contrast, play therapy helps younger children who can not rule out their problem and help them to address the problem first and then solve the issue creatively and at their level of understanding. The modes of therapy are different, but it does not mean that one therapy is better than another. Still, combining both therapies in a particular disorder can help to show miracles outcomes to achieve a good state of mind, help to solve the crisis, and achieve a better state of mind.

Dr. Vipul Chelabhai Prajapati
Dr. Vipul Chelabhai Prajapati



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