Dr. Meghan Walter

As a former school counselor and a supervisor of school counselors-in-training, I have seen many children weather the process of divorce. Even in the best of situations, when parents are able to manage conflict well and structure their separation with the best interests of their children in mind, children can have a difficult time adjusting to their new circumstances.

It is not uncommon for school-aged children to show signs of anger, sadness, guilt, and anxiety as a result of the divorce. They may even lash out behaviorally or show signs of regression, separation anxiety, or declines in school performance. You may not even realize your child is struggling – and if you do, you might not know how to help.

Play therapy can be beneficial for children in this situation. While older people are often more comfortable with verbal means of expression, children communicate and express themselves most fully through their play.

In play therapy children can express their feelings and learn to cope and process the changes in their lives. Play therapy helps children to feel more autonomous, confident, and competent.

There is a wealth of published research on the efficacy of play therapy. Research shows that play therapy is effective in helping children with processing their feelings related to divorce and other family transitions as a wide range of other issues.

For more information on how play therapy works and the research behind it, please consult the website of the Association for Play Therapy: http://www.a4pt.org/.

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