Play Therapy in the Hospital

What is play therapy?

Play therapy helps meet the emotional needs of a child who is in the hospital. Being in the hospital can be stressful for children and their families. Children may feel scared, confused, and not in control. Professionals trained in child development and therapeutic play will be involved in your child's play therapy. This could be a a certified child life specialist or a registered play therapist.

Play therapy is used to help a child understand and cope with:

  • Illness

  • Surgery

  • Hospitalization

  • Tests

  • Treatments

  • Other procedures

What is the goal of play therapy?

Play therapy centers on the family and helps a child adjust to hospital care. Your child is able to express themself through structured play.

Play therapy can support your child and your family with:

  • Play activities to help your child learn about and get ready for procedures or surgery

  • Relaxation methods

  • Pain management methods

  • Expressing their feelings through structured play

Parents of babies can learn new skills to comfort their child. They also learn ways to encourage their baby's development while their baby is in the hospital.

Help for siblings

Play therapy can also help with your other children. Siblings may be worried about their brother or sister who is in the hospital. They may be upset if their parents are away from them more often. The child life specialist or play therapist can help you to answer questions at home to help your children understand.

Visiting the hospital can also be stressful for brothers and sisters. Play therapy can help prepare them before they visit. This way, they can understand what they see and how they may feel before and after their visit.

Online Medical Reviewer: Maryann Foley RN BSNRaymond Turley Jr PA-CTodd Campbell MD

Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2021

© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.