Counseling Children

Play Therapy

Play Therapy General Definition

form of action therapy that uses sand play, fairy tales, art, and puppetry to encourage communication in children who have inadequate or immature verbalization skills or who verbalize excessively due to defensiveness.

The Purpose of Play Therapy
 to

enable children to indirectly express inner thoughts, fears, anxieties, and feelings of rage and guilt  to help children accomplish developmental tasks through a protected modality in which they can learn to deal with difficulties in the here and now (playroom as sanctuary)  to help children reduce anxiety and resolve conflict

The Process of Play Therapy

expression of distressing events allows children to externalize and fantasize their pain so that they can more effectively control it and learn adaptive ways to cope with it.

Play Therapy

is a primary method for working with children ages 2 -12 because of limited cognitive development and limited ability to verbalize thoughts and feelings, and because it is an integral part of children’s lives as well as a natural mode of learning and relating.

Adlerian Play
 Uses

techniques to provide

 Encouragement  reveal

family constellation  encourage early recollections  reveal goals of child’s behavior  form tentative hypotheses about the child’s behavior  re-educate the child.

Gestalt Play

uses play techniques that focus on:

the relationship strengthening the child’s sense of self and self-support encouraging emotional expression teaching the child to nurture self.

Cognitive-Behavioral Play

focuses on:


thoughts, feelings, fantasies, and environment teach more adaptive behaviors through modeling, role-playing, and behavioral contingencies

Family Play
 (Busby

and Lufkin) discovers information about family relationships and identifies common themes.  Goals (Anderson) include:
 understanding

atmosphere  role expectations  self-images  structure.

the family’s emotional

Child-Centered Play

focuses on:

relationship and convey unconditional caring and acceptance, respect, and patience allowing children to lead the relationship and solve their own problems

The Role of Play

is the currency of children” Play is:
Pleasurable Spontaneous Voluntary

The Role of Play
 Play

has no goal, purpose, or task orientation  Play is a natural way for children to:
 Communicate  Act

out sensitive material  Gain security (imaginary friend)  Develop self-confidence (mastery)
 Play

allows children to experiment with new ways of thinking & behaving

Criteria for Play
Not literal  Pleasure  Intrinsic Motivation  Flexibility

Stages of Play
 Functional
 [0

(Sensorimotor): Repetition and exploration
- 2]

 Constructive/Productive
 [2-4]


 Dramatic/Reproductive
 [4-7]


 Games
 [7-12]

with Rules

Types of Materials
 Real-life

toys: doll house, telephone, etc.  Acting Out/Aggressive Release Toys: handcuffs, toy guns and knives, drums, etc.  Creative Expression/Emotional Release Toys: chalk, magic markers, scissors, paper, blocks, hand puppets, Play-Doh, etc.

Characteristics of Play
 Healthy
    


 Disturbed
 


Relate freely Conversational Spontaneous Direct & open Play alone or with you

  

Uncomfortable wants to be told what to do Questions or demands Aggressive Play alone or under your control

Characteristics of Play
 Healthy

 Disturbed
 

Play as exploration
feelings  temporary tensions  temporary conflicts

Play is intense Themes

are diffuse

are direct expression  able to express negative feelings, but also positive feelings about same person

Stages of the Therapeutic Process
 Open

and permissive atmosphere for relationship building, focusing on the feelings that play behavior evokes, open-ended questions, developing hypotheses  More directive play, testing hypotheses, exploration of feelings and behavior - active probing  Engagement of the child in more systematically structured play sequences related to the conflict; use of systematic desensitization

Play Techniques
 Play

interviews child during play

 Counselor

 Balloon
 helps

Bursting in Structured Play

inhibited children become more assertive

 Playhouses
 shows

home relationships  gives insight into child’s view of ideal home

Play Techniques
 Puppets
 may

be used to talk about difficult issues  a variety of 15-20 puppets recommended  counselor interviews the child after the story is told through the puppets
 Telephone
 children

may imitate parents on the phone or talk to an imaginary or lost friend or loved one

Play Techniques
 Sandplay

allows counselor access to child’s world while promoting understanding & self-discovery can be an outlet for releasing aggression or for relaxation counselor explores with child various reactions to food

 Waterplay

 Food

Play Techniques
 Finger
 can


help child express feelings, overcome inhibitions, reveal fantasies  child tells the story of the painting and the teacher asks for clarification and feelings  color chosen and how the picture is drawn may be of importance

Play Techniques
 Squiggle


 Counselor

draws a squiggle (straight, curved, or zigzag line) and asks child to complete a drawing  child tells a story about the squiggle with the Counselor asking for clarification  process is then reversed; the Counselor’s story may be interpretative or make suggestions

Play Techniques
 Art

and Music Therapy

 family

drawings are often helpful in understanding family dynamics  music can often reduce tension, stress, or anxiety
 The

Emotional Barometer

 child

is asked to give an indication of how he or she feels and how things are going

Play Techniques
 Role


 used

to act out situations or rehearse new learning  may help Counselor understand how child perceives the world and relates to others
 Family
 child

Word Association Game

draws a picture of family, friends, or school and selects a card with an adjective word on it to describe the person(s)

Play Techniques
 Magic
 may

be used to track relationship skills or promote awareness  involve the child in the magic, choosing the tricks carefully to achieve a specific goal
 Ventriloquism
 figures

may help in gathering information from resistant children, to teach social skills, or to explore ways for solving problems

Play Techniques


relationships promote emotional growth enhance communication help children with anxiety promote socialization

Play Techniques
 Competitive
 may


be therapeutic and help with socialization skills, but negative effects on esteem and attitude should be considered

 Group

Play Therapy

 children

with similar problems and/or similar backgrounds may benefit from group play by sharing experiences and benefiting from the role modeling of others

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