Introduction to Play Therapy

Introduction to Play Therapy

Introduction to Play Therapy

Introduction to Play Therapy

Synopsis

This title provides a basic grounding in play therapy intervention, answering questions such as: who can play therapy help, what are the best settings for play therapy, and how should you train in play therapy?

Excerpt

Play therapy is a way of helping troubled children cope with their distress, using play as the medium of communication between child and therapist. The method is based on the central assumption that play is the place where children first recognise the separateness of what is 'me' and 'not me' and begin to develop a relationship with the world beyond the self. It is the child's way of making contact with their environment.

Definitions of play therapy will be determined by the perspectives of the person describing the process. My discourse is from the perspective of a play therapist with an interest in the imaginative play of children and adults. My definitions have a specific quality related to my professional experience but much of my understanding of children and my profession is derived from the dominant cultural image of the 'normal' child. It is important to recognise that there is no one 'truth' about play therapy but a number of perspectives based on the learning, experience and expertise of the presenter.

Meldrum (1996) states that exploration of theory arises out of the practice of play therapy. She describes a play therapist working with abused children. What emerges from practice with abused children is a loss of identity, a loss of the sense of self and often a distorted attachment to the perpetrator, stronger and more demanding because desperate, than a secure attachment in a loving relationship. The child who has no sense of self cannot separate her or himself from the person who is abusing them. This knowledge about the effects of abuse should inform the practice of the play therapist and will influence the way the process of the therapy supports the client. She emphasises that theory should underpin practice rather than be imposed on practice.

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