Play Therapy and Art Therapy are two separate modalities of therapy but are sometimes used in conjunction with one another. Play Therapy is designed specifically for use with children. It was based on the premise that children actually problem solve and work out internal struggles through play. Play is not seen as simply a fun, extracurricular activity, but is rather viewed as the mechanism through which children build mastery, express themselves, and work through struggles. Therefore, in Play Therapy children are given space, freedom, toys, and other interactive objects for playing with in the presence of the therapist. The therapist, in turn, is there to support and mirror the child. For instance, the therapist will verbalize what the child is doing moment to moment to let the child know that a trusting adult is connected with and attentive to them, while also helping the child be more engaged with their play.
While Play Therapy is designed for children, Art Therapy can be utilized with patients of any age. There are many different forms of Art Therapy, with different techniques and underlying philosophies. However, Art Therapy of any sort is based on creative expression through art media, be it drawing, painting, sculpting, expressive movement, crafting, amongst others. Art Therapy absolutely does not require one to have artistic talents or even identify oneself as creative. It is not about how good a product looks, rather it is important that one use art as an opportunity to express themselves to create a new understanding or narratives. In Art Therapy, the therapist can provide not only the materials, but prompts and other directions that help guide a patient to a more impactful expression of themselves.