Play Based Speech Therapy and Its Benefits

There are many benefits to play based speech-therapy. Has a parent or caregiver ever asked you why you just play with their child during the therapy session? This question along with "you just play for work" has been expressed frequently to co-workers and myself. Play-based speech therapy is much like child-directed therapy. It is one-on-one play between the client and caregiver/clinician, where the client leads the session. Sessions of this nature are beneficial for children who may have a difficult time sitting still at a table or being asked to "say this." Here are some benefits of play therapy you can tell someone when they question playing all the time during sessions.

  1. Playing with children helps build a positive relationship. It also encourages socialization with others which can prepare a child for daycare/school later on. It increases their social skills including joint attention, turn-taking, and staying on task. All of these skills are used in conversation and games such as peek-a-boo, tag, hide-and-seek, and board games.
  2. Play therapy works on building a child's vocabulary by targeting different categories of items used during play. Different categories include food, animals, transportation, colors, etc. Lots of children I work with love to play with the pretend food. Many pretend they are the chief and serve the food.
  3. Play helps to build a child's imagination and flexible thinking skills. Symbolic or pretend play mimics daily activities that are common throughout our life: problem-solving, memory, attention. For example, playing with dolls or playing house/with a kitchen set. They like to pretend feed baby dolls.
Ginsburg, K. R., & Committee of Communications. (2007). The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds. American Academy of Pediatrics: Pediatrics, 119(1), 182–191.

Wegner, L. (n.d.). The Importance of Play-Based Therapy. Handy Handouts. December 28, 2023,