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How a Child Who Has Experienced Emotional Abuse Can Benefit from Play Therapy

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

Emotional abuse can have a lasting impact on a child's or Teen's mental health and well-being. It can lead to feelings of low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and difficulty trusting others. If your child or Teen has experienced emotional abuse, it's important to seek support to help them process their emotions and begin to heal. Play therapy can be a valuable tool in this process.

What is Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse is a type of abuse that involves a pattern of behavior that harms a child's emotional development or sense of self-worth.

It can take many forms, including:

  • Criticizing or belittling a child

  • Ignoring or neglecting a child's emotional needs

  • Blaming a child for problems that are not their fault

  • Using threats or intimidation to control a child

  • Withholding affection or love as a form of punishment

  • Isolating a child from friends or family members

Emotional abuse can be difficult to identify, as it often happens behind closed doors and may not leave physical scars. However, the impact on a child's mental health can be significant.

How Play Therapy Can Help

Play therapy can be an effective treatment for children or Teens who have experienced emotional abuse. Here are a few ways in which play therapy can help:

  1. Play therapy provides a safe space: In play therapy, children are given a safe space to express their emotions and work through their experiences. Through play, they can explore their feelings and work through difficult memories without fear of judgment or consequences.

  2. Play therapy helps build trust: Children who have experienced emotional abuse may struggle with trust issues or feelings of isolation. Play therapy can help build trust between the child and therapist, providing a supportive relationship that can help them feel less alone.

  3. Play therapy encourages self-expression: Children who have experienced emotional abuse may struggle with self-expression. Play therapy can help them find new ways of expressing themselves, whether through art, storytelling, or other creative activities.

  4. Play therapy promotes healing: Through play therapy, children can begin to process their emotions and work through the impact of emotional abuse on their lives. This can lead to healing and a sense of empowerment as they learn to cope with their experiences.

If your child or Teen has experienced emotional abuse, play therapy can be a valuable tool in their healing journey. Through play, your child or Teen can express their emotions, build trust, and find new ways of coping with their experiences. If you're interested in exploring play therapy further, speak with our licensed therapist who specializes in working with children who have experienced emotional abuse.

Do you think your Teen or Child could benefit from therapy? Speak to a qualified Play therapist to learn how your Teen or Child could benefit from play therapy, Click here to get in touch today, or if you want to know if Play Therapy could be suitable for your Teen or Child, click here to take our quiz!


  1. Gil, E. (2014). Helping Abused and Traumatized Children: Integrating Directive and Nondirective Approaches. The Guilford Press.

  2. Kaduson, H. G., & Schaefer, C. E. (2010). Play Therapy for Emotional Abuse. In Handbook of Play Therapy (pp. 305–319). John Wiley & Sons.

  3. Landreth, G. L. (2012). Play Therapy: The Art of the Relationship (3rd ed.). Routledge.

  4. National Association of School Psychologists. (n.d.). Emotional Abuse. Retrieved May 13, 2023, from https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-climate-safety-and-crisis/mental-health-resources/emotional-abuse

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