Non-directive and directive play therapy defined
Nondirective play therapy is a therapy method in which therapists are taught to have a hands-off approach to play therapy with their clients. The children direct their own play, rather than the therapist directing the child’s activities during the therapy sessions. This allows the child to play at their leisure and necessitates that the therapist become ensconced in the child’s self-directed imaginative play, rather than the child adhering to the therapist’s direction, which may be beyond the child’s comprehension. (Kenney-Noziska, et al., 2012). In a nondirective play setting, there are many toys of varying styles, sizes, colors, shapes, etc., that a child can use to personify and exhibit their emotions without the discomfort of having to talk about what is troubling them. The ways in which they play with or position their toys communicates to the therapist what the child is thinking or feeling. During the course of therapy, therapists can detect trends, patterns, and can develop insight as to what the child is saying without the use of words. (Schaeffer, 2011). Nondirective play therapy differs from directive play therapy in that the child is given the freedom and autonomy to direct their own play, independent of therapist control. Children are often seen as incompetent and are bossed by surrounding adults, they are often shunned or their opinions are dismisses or disregarded (Cattanach, 2003). Nondirective play methods, coupled with an understanding and competent therapist, creates an ambiance in which the child feels safe and feels freedom to express their emotions in a protected atmosphere. In this manner, the child has the chance to work through their anxieties, past hurts, and experiences, without having to verbalize them, which can be scary and daunting to a child (Schaeffer, 2011). During nondirective play therapy, children are allowed to freely express themselves and develop a sentiment of security in the therapy sessions. Many times, children will act out during therapy sessions in an attempt to show the therapist their feelings about their circumstances, because they do not have the verbal capacity to speak about their problems (Baber, 2008). Children who are severely damaged due to abuse, neglect or other traumas are most suitable for nondirective play therapy, because in many cases they are simply not used to structure so they are unable or unwilling to follow rules or directions. (Cattanach, 2003). Directive play therapy
The use of directive play therapy dictates that the therapist plays an active role in directing play than in nondirective play therapy sessions. For example, a therapist might suggest games, choose which toys, games or activities the child will play with, or play with the child directly (Harter, 1977). The therapist will observe the child’s play tactics, ask open-ended questions with regard to the client’s play, and may also ask the client to play with specific toys to then interpret the their actions with the toys. While this method of play therapy may be appropriate for some children who have undergone trauma, such as sexual abuse, directive approach may not be appropriate for a younger child who lacks the cognitive skills or demonstrative capacity to heal and grasp traumatic experiences on their own (Rasmussen & Cunningham, 1995). Problems during child development
Play therapy, nondirective and directive, has been touted as a successful and developmentally suitable method for working with children contending with many types of social and emotional issues, including but not limited to foster/adoptive children and children who have otherwise been separated from their families (Baber, 2008). Additionally, children with depression, ADHD, speech delays, trauma, learning disabilities, anxiety, abuse, neglect, aggression, acting out, spectrum disorders, and physical disabilities are also prime candidates for play therapy (Cattanach,...
References: Australian Institute of Professional Counselors. (2010). Directive vs. non-directive play therapy. Retrieved from https://www.aipc.net.au/articles/directive-vs-non-directive-play-therapy/
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