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Appalachian Center for Play Therapy Hosts National Conference
SOMERSET, Ky. – Tasha Miller of Pikeville, Ky., didn’t know a lot about play therapy at the start of last week. But by the end of June 4, the Lindsey Wilson College human services and counseling senior thought she might want to incorporate play therapy into her career as a mental health professional. “It’s something that I’m going to consider using because I want to work with children after I graduate,” she said. Miller was one of more than 160 people from seven states who attended the first sponsored conference of the Lindsey Wilson Appalachian Center for Play Therapy. The two-day conference, held June 3-4 at the Center for Rural Development, featured Garry L. Landreth, an internationally known play therapy expert, who discussed play therapy and its benefits. “Play therapy gives a voice to children by using their play,” said Landreth, who is the founder of the Center for Play Therapy at the University of North Texas, the largest play therapy training program in the nation. “The play therapist ‘listens’ to the meaning in the child’s play, just as the therapist listens to meaning of an adult’s verbalization.
“We need to give (children) a chance to communicate at their level, the same way we give adults an opportunity to communicate verbally.” – Garry L. Landreth
Play therapy pioneer Garry L. Landreth addresses mental-health professionals at the Lindsey Wilson College Appalachian Center for Play Therapy conference, held June 3-4 at the Center for Rural Development in Somerset, Ky.
So while they are in a playroom setting, their toys are viewed as being like a child’s words and play is the child’s language.” The task of the play therapist is to understand the “child’s play language,” Landreth said. “And that’ not as difficult to read the play language as you might initially think because play is a universal language,” Landreth said. “Children all over the world play similarly, just the items they play with differ. ... Give a child in South Africa a pile of The Association for sand and they play in it the Play Therapy defines same children in Kentucky play play therapy as “the in the sand.” systematic use of a Play therapy as a discipline theoretical model to was first discussed in the 1940s, establish an interperbut Landreth is responsible for sonal process wherein popularizing it over the last 40 trained play therapists use the therapeutic years, said Lindsey Wilson powers of play to help clients prevent or Associate Professor of Human resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve Services & Counseling Jodi M. optimal growth and development.” Crane. LWC is one of three colleges or universiLandreth has published more ties in Kentucky that offers course in play than 150 journal articles, books therapy. For more information about Play Therapy, and videos. His award-winning book Play Therapy: The Art of go to the Association for Play Therapy Web the Relationship has been transsite: www.a4pt.org.
What is Play Therapy?
lated into several languages. Landreth’s articles, books and videos are among the reasons play therapy has become one of the fastest-growing areas in the mental-health profession, Crane said. “The mental-health profession is finally recognizing that it’s not effective to sit children down in big chairs and tell them what they need to do or give them instructions about how to live their lives – it doesn’t work,” Landreth said. “We need to give them a chance to communicate at their level, the same way we give adults an opportunity to communicate verbally. That recognition is slowly catching on.” Despite efforts to promote play therapy, Landreth said the subject is taught as a separate class in just about 30 percent of the U.S. counselor-education programs. “We are still struggling with the lack of recognition of the child’s ability in their own way to solve emotional issues,” he said. Central to play therapy is for the therapist to see the child as a person, not as a junior version of an adult. “Children are people, they just hapContinued on Next Page
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pen to be younger people,” Landreth said. “They are persons worthy of respect, as any person is worthy of respect. They just happen to be 3, 4 or 5 years old. They possess the same capability of helping themselves emotionally that adults possess. In fact, sometimes it’s harder for adults to help themselves because their minds get in the way – they keep thinking about all the things that didn’t work. “I love the child’s approach and view of their world – they approach their world with newness. It’s new, eager, creative and willing to explore.” In addition to exposing more than 160 mental-health students and professionals to play therapy, the June conference was also something of a coming out part for the Appalachian Center for Play Therapy. Founded early this year by Crane, a nine-year veteran of the LWC faculty, the center’s goal is to help educate and train mental-health professionals and others who work with children about the benefits of play therapy. “The center makes it possible to train greater numbers of people in how to use play therapy,” Crane said. “Otherwise, it’s sort of hit or miss as to where that training can be found in this region of the United States.” And Landreth said he was “very impressed” with the center’s first conference.
Play therapy pioneer Garry L. Landreth (left) chats with LWC graduate student Aaron Meriwether of Columbia at the Appalachian Center for Play Therapy conference, held June 3-4 at the Center for Rural Development.
“It took me longer to get to where Jodi is now than it has taken her to get where she is today,” he said. “In less than 10 years, she has started a play therapy program, is building a center for play therapy and has held a conference for play therapy. That’s very impressive, and it also speaks of the tremendous need this region has, as evidenced by the fact that it attracted professionals from seven states.”
Connie Stallard of Clintwood, Va., was among those who attended the conference and hopes to become a licensed play therapist. A 30-year veteran of special education, Stallard said she sees numerous possibilities for integrating play therapy into her work. “I’ve seen such a need for this service in helping young people,” she said.
Professor Raises Awareness About Sexual Assault
FRANKFORT, Ky. – A Lindsey Wilson College professor was honored last spring for efforts to raise awareness about and prevent sexual assault in Kentucky. Assistant Professor of Human Services & Counseling Tammy Hatfield received the Sexual Assault Awareness Month Award – also known as a SAAMy –from the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs. Hatfield – who was one of four Kentucky residents recognized with a SAAMy – was honored for her efforts to promote education and awareness about sexual assault. Since joining the faculty of the Lindsey Wilson School of Professional Counseling in 2006, Hatfield has encouraged students to develop skills that will improve their understanding and service to victims of sexual violence. “This is an issue that should be important to all of us because it affects all of us in the commonwealth of Kentucky,” said Hatfield, who is also a licensed clinical psychologist. To raise awareness about sexual assault, KASAP promoted the “Green Dot Initiative.” Every act of sexual violence – such as stalking, partner violence, rape, child abuse – is considered a “red dot.” Conversely, a “green dot” represents a single incident that supports sexual-violence victims or decreases the incidents of sexual assault. Hatfield said the “Green Dot Initiative” encourages “all of us to take steps that can intervene and prevent sexual assault from occurring.” “It can even be simple steps, such as calling attention to sexist jokes when they are told,” she said.
LWC alumnae Maja Cupac (left), Heather Hurt-Klepper (center) and LWC Assistant Professor of Human Services & Counseling Tammy Hatfield display a green dot that promotes Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Kentucky.
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