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Initially developed in the turn of the 20th century, today play therapy refers to a large number of treatment methods, all applying the therapeutic benefits of play. Play therapy differs from regular play in that the therapist helps children to address and resolve their own problems. Play therapy builds on the natural way that children learn about themselves and their relationships in the world around them (Axline, 1947; Carmichael, 2006; Landreth, 2012). Through play therapy, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others. Play provides a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows expression of thoughts and feelings appropriate to their development.

APT defines play therapy as "the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development." (adapted from

The Pennsylvania Branch of the Association for Play Therapy (PA-APT) began to organize in 1997 with the mission of promoting the practice of play therapy in a variety of settings including schools, mental health centers, and private practice. Our current membership includes over 150 Professional and Affiliate members from all corners of the state.

Membership in PA-APT provides concurrent membership in the Association for Play Therapy (APT). APT was co-founded by Charles Schaefer, PHD and Kevin O'Connor, PhD in 1982 and includes over 4,000 members across the United States.

The Pennsylvania Association for Play Therapy is an active and growing organization. PA-APT is committed to providing training opportunities for all practitioners including an annual conference, as well as providing networking opportunities and informal contacts between members. The members, regional directors, and officers of PA-APT welcome your membership and participation in this growing organization!

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"To read the language of play is to read the hearts and minds of children."

Ruth Hartley

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