We all know that children love to play. We understand that through play kids are able to explore and engage with the world around them. However, play can also be an important way for children to resolve personal challenges. The discipline is called Play Therapy, and, for more than 60 years, it has helped children ages 3-11 express themselves and reveal their feelings in a safe, comfortable and helpful ways. We’re proud to say that Safari Ltd® toys are often used by Licensed Social Workers as valuable tools in their Play Therapy sessions.

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Non-Directive and Directive Play Therapy

There are two main types of Play Therapy: Non-directive and Directive. Non-directive play allows the child to play independently in the hopes that the expression of issues will arise naturally without being guided or prompted. Directive Play involves engagement from the therapist, who assumes an active role in an effort to guide the child toward a specific subject or topic in the hopes of uncovering underlying issues. The good news is our new eco-friendly building blocks, BiOBUDDi, are ideal for directive and non-directive play.

Sandplay, Sandtray and Safari Ltd®

One highly effective type of Non-Directive Play Therapy is called Sandplay. Children are invited to independently create imaginary worlds using sand, water, and miniature objects. Most often, a child will create a setting that reflects his or her own life, giving the therapist a clear understanding of issues and challenges. The directed version of this discipline is called Sandtray or the World Technique, in which the therapist actively participates in the play to influence the subject matter being explored.  

Safari Ltd® figures play a pivotal role in both of these Play Therapies!

Susan Falck is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Registered Play Therapy Supervisor at PlayWorks Counseling, who uses Safari Ltd® figures in her Sandplay sessions. According to Susan, they help children “express their thoughts, feelings and experiences.” She continues, “Kids use the toys and figures to create a world or story in the sand tray. The wide variety of Toys That Teach: animals, dragons, dinosaur figures, and fantasy figures, are ideal for Play Therapy.”

Here's another example from the Center for Childhood Counseling on the benefits of Sandtray Therapy:


TOOBS® are also valuable tools for Sandplay and Sandtray therapy. These miniature collections allow for endless possibilities with animals, vehicles, people, buildings, household objects, plants, and fantastical creatures. Children are free to express themselves in countless ways. For older kids (Ages 5+), Good Luck Minis® are a great option for Sandplay and Sandtray therapy.


Filial Therapy or Family Play

Filial Therapy encourages children to play along with their parents. This family engagement can help forge stronger bonds and closer relationships, while also allowing the child to express feelings and emotions that might only be revealed through the freedom of play. Once again, Safari Ltd® educational toy animals can play a big role in opening up imaginations and promoting an open exchange between parents and children. 

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The Power of Play Therapy

Play therapy is a vital tool in uncovering issues so many children face. These are challenges young minds may not have the wherewithal or the comfort level to freely discuss. However, by observing the worlds they create and the ways they play, therapists and parents are able to uncover these issues in the early stages of childhood. This is critical because the sooner they are addressed, the more effectively they can be resolved. Safari Ltd® figures and toys have proven to be vital tools in Play Therapy. We are very proud of this fact, and will continue to do everything we can to help those who are helping kids.