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[ Newsletter - Feb 2012 ]

By Kerry Acheson
Play therapy is an established children’s therapy where:

Acceptance, affirmation and emotional safety are experienced in the relationship with the play therapist.
Bereavement, trauma, social difficulties and emotional problems are addressed and worked through using the non-threatening medium of play.
Children aged 4 and up can confront their problems through play, which is their primary language.
Distance is put between Problem and Self through play, which makes difficulties easier to tackle.
Emotional, behavioural and social development occurs through play, at the child’s own pace.
Freely expressed emotions, choices and ideas are validated in play therapy, which build the child’s sense of confidence and competence.
Games, playdough, teddies, dolls, paint and figurines become vehicles for the child’s self-expression.
Holistic integration of body, emotions, thoughts and behaviours is facilitated.
Involving the parents and teachers in supporting the child speeds up the process.
Joy, humour and fun are often present when play is creatively used to overcome problems.
Kindness, respect, undivided attention and understanding are required in order for a play therapist to build a therapeutic relationship.
Little acorns are encouraged to fulfil their potential as oak trees in the context of the safe, affirming play therapy environment.
Mountains are made into molehills through playing big problems into a more manageable size.
Not good enough, not smart enough, not fast enough, not good looking enough are negative self-statements that start to be left outside of the room as self-esteem is nurtured.
Once a week, for 50 minutes, child and play therapist meet.
Play themes are verbally reflected back to the child. This helps them to describe their experiences in words and increase their self-awareness.
Quiet or loud, subtle or dramatic, focused or all over the place, each child’s play style is accepted and connected with.
Resolution of internal conflicts occurs through play. Repetitively enacting a problem through play ultimately leads to mastery.
Self-control, self-acceptance, self-confidence and self-esteem are fostered through play therapy.
The play themes that emerge form the basis of useful recommendations for parents and teachers.
Unconscious conflicts and difficulties are projected onto the play, rendering them more accessible.
Venting anger and aggressive energy in the session can make it easier for the child to manage these feelings outside of the room 
What is needed to address unfolds in each unique play therapy process.
Xtra nurturing is given, according to the child’s particular emotional needs.
Young children don’t feel too little to be heard, understood and taken seriously.
Zero’s learn to see themselves as heroes, and all other negative labels are challenged and undermined.

Kerry is passionate about children and offers play therapy as one of her services at our Claremont Practice. For more of Kerry’s thoughts on play therapy, go to

Recommended Reading:

For Parents: Dibs, In Search of Self by Virginia Axline
For Play therapists: Art of the Relationship by Garry Landreth

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