Profiles of Play: Assessing and Observing Structure and Process in Play Therapy

Profiles of Play: Assessing and Observing Structure and Process in Play Therapy

Profiles of Play: Assessing and Observing Structure and Process in Play Therapy

Profiles of Play: Assessing and Observing Structure and Process in Play Therapy

Synopsis

This practical text provides a template for interpreting change and meaning in children's lives through their play activity. It shows how each child's pattern of play has a distinct profile of measurable features. Real-life examples are included.

Excerpt

…play is in fact neither a matter of inner psychic reality nor a matter of
external reality…if play is neither inside nor outside, where is it? (Winnicott
1971, p.96).

D. W. Winnicott focuses our attention on the sphere containing play activity, the spatial realm where play takes place. This space or background for playing is both illusory and real. It begins in the interaction between parent and child. It develops further as the child hatches out of the parent–child matrix, now containing within himself the elements for playing. Playing, at this point of separateness, becomes not only an expression of one’s individuality but also an extension of the original parent–child relationship. Thus, play activity exists as an interpsychic and intrapsychic mix, a careful balancing of relationships that remain potentially activated and energizing.

How can we communicate in discrete, measurable units about this illusory, yet very real, activity of playing? Play activity is the essence of child psychotherapy. It is synonymous with ongoing therapeutic transactions between therapist and child patient. It is the child’s personal and shared vocabulary for describing subjective experience, the experience of doing and not-doing, being and not-being in the presence of another. Playing in therapy is a spontaneous expression. It stretches the confines of everyday reality to the boundaries of make-believe. The impossible transforms to the infinitely possible; private experience is shared with another. How can we capture the complexity of this essential therapeutic process?

The purpose of this book is to provide a language for child therapists, to assist them in specifying what occurs within therapy sessions with their . . .

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