March 28, 2011
From Piaget, we gain an understanding of the symbolism in child’s play. Play is central to the development of a child and can also teach us a great deal about their thoughts, feelings and experiences that they are not developmentally able to verbalize. With its foundations in psychoanalysis, play therapy stems from the work of Herminie von Hug-Hellmuth of Vienna. Along with her contemporaries, Hug-Hellmuth began developing the basis for play therapy as she engaged troubled children in talk and play. Even though there are now many theoretical perspectives for play therapy, there several main assumptions about children that span the varied approaches: children are resilient, they are oriented toward growth, they are worthy of respect, they people capable of experiencing both joy and pain, among others. Child-centered play therapy and cognitive-behavioral play therapy are two popular approaches that are discussed in this paper along with their respective theoretical bases and methodologies for treatment.
Brief Overview of Play Therapy “Play therapy is a way of helping troubled children cope with their distress, using play as the medium of communication between child and therapist” (Cattanach, 2003, p. 24). Play therapy is also a way of helping rectify problem behaviors in children. Play therapy can be used with any age, but the majority of play therapy is done with children under age 12. Piaget gave us an understanding of the symbolism of play and how it bridges concrete experience with abstract thought. Abstract thought does not develop in children until approximately age 11. “By engaging in the process of play, children learn to live in our symbolic world of meanings and values, at the same time exploring and experimenting and learning in their own individual ways” (Landreth, 2002, p.10) Another major focus for play therapy is the concept of control. Landreth says that “play
References: Carmichael, Karla D. (2006). Play therapy: an introduction. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc. Cattanach, Ann. (2003). Introduction to play therapy. New York, New York: Brunner Routledge. Landreth, Garry L. (2002). Play therapy: the art of the relationship. (2nd Ed). New York, New York: Brunner-Routledge. Schaefer, Charles E. (Ed.). (2003). Foundations of play therapy. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.