Play is a child's natural medium for self-expression.
- Virginia Axline
Creative Arts Therapy
Play: More than Just Fun
A TED Talk
In this talk, Dr. Stuart Brown a play researcher and psychiatrist asserts that plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults - and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age.
The Psychology of Play
This video provides some useful advice on the psychology behind play and how it helps children and young people manage their emotions.
How Play Supports A Child's Development
Describes how play supports a child gain a positive sense of self.
Play Therapy Can Help Kids Speak the Unspeakable
Describes how play therapy is developmentally appropriate for children and adolescents.
What is Play Therapy?
Who comes to
Children will most likely encounter difficult situations in their lives, such as loss, divorce or separation or trouble making friends, or adjusting to changes at school or home. Some children need more help than others to get through these times.
Play Therapy is, an evidenced based, developmentally appropriate form of therapy which is demonstrated to be highly effective for children ages 3 through 16 years old (Carmichael, 2006; Gil, 1991;
Landreth; 2002; Schaefer, 1993).
Play therapy is used to help children cope with difficult emotions and find solutions to problems (Moustakas, 1997; Reddy, Files-Hall & Schaefer,
2005); which allows them to change the way they think about, feel toward, and resolve their concerns (Kaugars & Russ, 2001).
Research supports the effectiveness of play therapy with children experiencing a wide variety of social, emotional, behavioural, and learning problems. Here is a checklist of emotional, learning and/or behavioural challenges that play therapy can help children confront and resolve.
Meta-analytic reviews of over 100 play therapy outcome studies (Bratton et al, 2005; LeBlanc & Ritchie, 2001; Lin & Bratton, 2015; Ray et al, 2015) have found that the over-all treatment effect of play therapy ranges from moderate to high positive effects.
Person-Centred play therapy?
Play Therapy is the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein the certified Play Therapist uses the therapeutic powers of play to help the child prevent or resolve psycho-social difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.
Person-centred play therapy differs from regular play and 'talk’ therapy in that the play therapist follows the child’s lead in helping them address and resolve their problems via toys and the creative arts.
It builds on the natural way that children learn about themselves and their relationships in the world around them (Axline, 1947; Carmichael, 2006; Landreth, 2002).
This modality is based on the person-centred, non-directive approach of
Carl Rogers and embraces Virginia Axline’s principles of play therapy.
Person-centred play therapy is based on developing inner resources by expressing negative feelings with a permissive and accepting therapist.
It is a humanist and integrative approach grounded on the belief that each person desires self-development and personal growth, the approach sometimes deals with spirituality and consciousness.
Play Therapists are licensed mental health professionals with extensive training, supervision, and education in Play Therapy. Play Therapy incorporates a growing number of evidence-based practices and techniques (SAMSHA, 2014), and should only be utilized by specially trained mental health professionals.
An emotionally and physically safe environment is created which permits the child to play freely within the boundaries of the therapeutic setting.
The child chooses from a wide variety of toys and other media, e.g., clay, paint, sand, puppets, movement and music; which act as the medium of
communication between the child and therapist.
The clinical session allows healing to begin, following the intrinsic natural tendency towards well-being. Play and creativity occur at the sub-conscious level.
Each clinical session is between 30 minutes to 50 minutes. The duration is dependent on the age of the child. Typically, three to six year olds have 30 minute sessions.
The play therapist and child meet once a week. They meet between 12 to 42 times depending on the depth of the difficulty and how the child resolves their difficulties.
Several studies (Bratton et al., 2005; LeBlanc & Ritchie, 1999, 2001) suggest that the efficacy of play therapy is achieved between 35–42 sessions, whereas shorter or longer treatment durations are less effective.