Why Play Therapy

Why Play Therapy
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Why Do Play Therapy?

Play therapy can be used to 1) address specific problems and also to 2) help facilitate positive developmental progress ('getting development back on track"). It is best seen as attending to both of theses areas, not just one or the other.

  • The child uses play and activity as authentic modes of expression.
  • We can understand (usually) such play as symbolic communication, reflecting
  • The child’s specific history (of actual events, of expectations within relationships and developmental level), and
  • Which vary within a developmental sequence. (Variable cognitive styles.)
  • Most play therapists assume play communication include unconscious elements (those the child can not simply talk out), and
  • Within therapy key conflicts or events will be enacted in play on a repetitive basis.
  • Such re-enactment can be used to aid understanding, mastery and developmental progress.
  • Play therapy emphasizes the child’s autonomous viewpoint, not those of parents or collaterals.
  • Thus it is empowering of the child as an agent of change, effective action.
  • Changes in play therapy are assumed to generalize to other areas of life.
  • But - play therapy is becoming less "popular" in an culture emphasizing symptomatic improvement and cost.

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© James Drisko, PhD
last updated 2/21/01