In the process of growing up, child’s problems are frequently compounded by the inability of adults in their lives to understand or to respond correctly to what children are feeling and attempting to communicate. This “communication gap” is increased as a result of adults’ demand that children adopt that means of expression commonly used by adults. Endeavor to communicate with children on an exclusive verbal level presume the presence of a well-developed facility for expression through speech and thus confine children to a medium that is usually awkward and unnecessarily restrictive. Play is to the child as verbalization is to the adult. It is a medium for expressing feelings, describing experiences, exploring relationships, disclosing wishes, and self-fulfillment. The troubles children experience do not exist apart from the persons they are. Here, play therapy matches the dynamic inner structure of the child with an equally dynamic approach.
What to expect?
A major role of play in play therapy is the changing of what is difficult to manage in reality to manageable situations by symbolic representation, which bestow children opportunities for learning to cope.
How does it work?
The play therapy process can be seen as a relationship between the therapist and the child in which the child uses play to explore his or her personal world and also to communicate with the therapist in a way that is safe for the child.
Although desirable, a fully equipped playroom is not must for children to express themselves. It is important that children have access to play materials selected and essential for the purpose of encouraging expression. All toys and materials do not mechanically encourage children’s expression or exploration of their desires, feelings, and experiences. Therefore, toys should be selected rationally, not collected. Play therapy is not used as a pass time activity or to get ready to do something else. The purpose is not only to engage the child’s hands while trying to elicit some verbal expression from the child’s mouth. Implicating, careful attention should be given to selecting play materials that aid in the following: Expression of a wide range of feelings, Exploration of real life experiences, Expressive and exploratory play, Testing of limits, Exploration and expression without verbalization, and success without prescribed structure. Landreth (1991) has provided a list of specific toys and materials.
When it is used?
Play therapy has been found to be an effective therapeutic approach for a various problems faced by a child including, but definitely not limited to, the following areas:
abuse and neglect, attachment difficulties, autism, aggression and acting out, burn victims, deaf and physically challenged children, dissociation and schizophrenia, chronic illness, emotionally disturbed children, enuresis and encopresis problems.
Role of a play therapist:
Prospective play therapists requires to be adequately trained. Most play therapists posses a master’s degree in counseling, psychology, or social work, although other disciplines also are represented and found in the field. A master’s with emphasis on the clinical or counseling aspects of therapeutic relationships is a general prerequisite. In India therapist require RCI license to practice play therapy. Within or in addition to such a program, training should include the areas of child development and basic counseling skills incorporating acquisition of a theoretical approach and a rationale for any behavior change consistent with the play therapy approach utilized. The play therapist much posses extensive training in the area of play therapy and a supervised practicum experience in the conduction of play therapy.
L. (1991). Play therapy: The art of the relationship. Munice, IN: Accelerated Development.