- CHILDREN PLAY THERAPY
- Play therapy is a type of therapy that uses play to help children express and work through their feelings and emotions. Play therapy can be used with children who are experiencing a range of emotional and behavioral difficulties, such as anxiety, depression, trauma, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Understanding how children develop physically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially ( child development)
- Physical development –one must understand physical development because it influences the child’s ability to engage in play and their overall well-being. Play therapists need to understand how physical development affects a child’s ability to engage in different play activities and how certain physical conditions can impact their behavior and emotions.
- Cognitive development – refers to how children think, reason, and understand the world around them. Play therapists need to have a solid understanding of cognitive development to help children process their experiences and emotions in a developmentally appropriate way. Play therapy activities can help children develop their cognitive skills, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and memory.
- Emotional development- involves the ability to recognize, understand and manage emotions. Play therapists need to understand how emotional development impacts a child’s behavior and ability to communicate their feelings. Play therapy can help children learn to express and regulate their emotions in a safe and supportive environment.
- Social development – refers child’s ability to interact with others and build relationships. Play therapists need to understand how social development influences a child’s behavior and emotions. Play therapy can help children develop social skills such as communication, sharing, taking turns, and building positive relationships with others.
TECHNIQUES AND APPROACHES USED IN PLAY THERAPY WITH CHILDREN
- Non-directive play therapy –allows children to lead the therapy session and express themselves freely through play. The therapist may observe and reflect on what the child is doing or saying, but will not provide direction or interpret the play.
- Directive play – in this approach the therapist guides the child’s play by providing specific materials or activities.
- Sand play therapy –involves the use of a tray of sand and miniature figurines. The child can create scenes in the sand using figurines, which can provide a safe way to explore difficult emotions and experiences.
- Theraplay –is a type of play therapy that focuses on building attachment and strengthening the parent-child relationship through playful activities. The therapist may engage in games and activities with both the parent and the child together.
- Expressive arts therapy – uses a variety of creative mediums for example drawing, painting, music, and dance) to help children express themselves and process their emotions.
- Play therapy with storytelling- approach involves using stories and narrative therapy to help children explore their experiences and emotions. The therapist may read stories to the child, or help the child create their own stories.
- Play therapy with mindfulness –it incorporates mindfulness techniques e.g. breathing exercises, body awareness) into play therapy sessions to help children learn to regulate their emotions and manage stress.
STEPS INVOLVED IN PLAY THERAPY
- Initial assessment – this is done to gather information about the child’s presenting issues, developmental level, and family dynamics. You may use a variety of assessment tools such as observation, interviews, and standardized measures to gather the information.
- Treatment planning –this is done based on the information gathered in the assessment, the therapist will develop a treatment plan outlining the goals of therapy and specific techniques and interventions that will be used to achieve these goals.
- Building rapport – it is very crucial to build a strong therapeutic relationship with the child. The therapist will work to establish trust and create a safe and supportive environment where the child feels comfortable expressing themselves through play.
- Play observation – during play therapy sessions, the therapist will observe the child’s play and interactions with toys and materials. The therapist may make comments or ask questions to encourage the child to express their feelings and explore their experiences.
- Intervention- based on the child’s needs and goals of therapy, the therapist will use a variety of play-based interventions to help the child process their emotions, develop coping skills and work through any issues or challenges they may be facing. These interventions may include art activities, sand tray play, and storytelling.
- Parent or caregiver involvement – depending on the child’s needs and goals of therapy, the therapist may involve the child’s parents or caregivers in the therapy process. This may involve providing feedback, psych education, or involving them in joint play sessions with the child.
- Evaluation and termination –as therapy progresses, the therapist will regularly evaluate the child’s progress toward their goals and adjust the treatment plan as needed. When the goals of therapy have been achieved, the therapist will work with the child and their family to prepare for termination the of therapy and create a plan for ongoing support if necessary.
ETHICS AND BEST PRACTICES IN PLAY THERAPY
- Informed consent – play therapists must obtain informed consent from the child’s parents or guardians before beginning therapy. This includes informing them of the therapeutic process, the goals of therapy, and the potential risks and benefits.
- Confidentiality –play therapists are bound to confidentiality and must take steps to protect the privacy of the child and their family. Exceptions may occur if the child is at risk of harm or if the child is at risk of harm or if required by law.
- Competence- play therapists should have the necessary training and experience to provide effective and evidence-based interventions. They should also regularly engage in continuing education to stay up to date on new research and techniques.
- Cultural competence – play therapists should be aware of and sensitive to cultural differences and how they may impact therapy. They should strive to provide culturally responsive care and respect the diversity of their clients.
- Boundaries- play therapists should maintain appropriate boundaries with their clients and avoid dual relationships that may compromise their objectivity or therapeutic effectiveness.
- Record keeping – play therapists should maintain accurate and timely records of therapy sessions, assessments, and progress notes. These records should be stored securely and kept confidential.