Play Therapy

For most children, play is a natural way of rehearsing for life. When children play, they are developing skills and preparing for all sorts of situations. Sometimes play even helps children address issues that are bothering them. That’s why we offer play therapy at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.

Research shows that play therapy is effective for children who experience problems related to stressful life experiences. Parents often report that a child’s behavior improves significantly over the course of play therapy sessions.

Why Choose Gillette?

  • We offer play therapy as part of a comprehensive care plan that supports children’s social, emotional and health care needs.
  • Our facilities are designed specifically to support children who have disabilities and complex conditions.
  • We have extensive experience using play therapy to help children work through problems and express their thoughts and feelings.

About Play Therapy

Play therapy isn’t the same as regular play. In a play therapy session, a play therapist oversees the environment, helping children feel safe as they explore conflicts and concerns. Children use toys—such as dollhouses, sand trays, dress-up clothes and puppets—to express their thoughts and feelings.

Because many children don’t have the words to discuss their feelings, they show what they feel and want through their behavior. A child acting out in school, for example, might be afraid of a future hospital stay. A play therapist helps children make sense of their experiences.

Ultimately, the goal of play therapy is to help kids learn to resolve problems and find solutions on their own. Developing such skills usually results in a child who is happier and less likely to act out.

To learn more about the services we provide at Gillette, search Conditions and Care.


Candidates for Play Therapy

Play therapy is most appropriate for children 2 – 10 who have the cognitive ability to take part in imaginative play. Play therapy is particularly helpful when children struggle to:

  • Manage anger
  • Deal with grief and loss
  • Work through trauma
  • Handle feelings of anxiety or depression

Gillette’s staff specializes in helping children learn to cope with having a disability or chronic condition. Patients who have a wide variety of conditions can benefit from play therapy. We also work with brothers and sisters of Gillette patients.

For more information about the complex conditions we treat at Gillette, search Conditions and Care.


What to Expect During Play Therapy

Play therapy usually consists of a series of one-hour sessions. On average, treatment continues for 20 sessions, although the duration of play therapy depends on the nature of the child’s issues. We also provide parents with strategies they can use at home to maximize the benefit of each session.

Most medical insurance covers play therapy, and Gillette accepts most insurance plans.

For more information about preparing for a visit to Gillette, visit Patient Preparation and Support.


Locations of Service

Burnsville Clinic
Burnsville Clinic

952-223-3400 or 866-881-7386 (toll free)

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Maple Grove Clinic
Maple Grove Clinic

763-496-6000 or 888-218-0642 (toll free)

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St. Paul Campus (Hospital and Clinic)
St. Paul Campus (Hospital and Clinic)

651-291-2848 or 800-719-4040 (toll-free)

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Services vary by location. For all of our locations, visit Directions and Locations.