Brief Overview of Play Therapy

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A Brief Overview of Play Therapy
Rebecca Maxwell
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
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With roots in the psychoanalytic framework, play therapy has gone in several different directions, but with similar assumptions about children. Even though there are many theoretical bases from which to approach play therapy, there are still some basic constructs from which play therapy operates. According to Landreth (2002), there are ten tenets for relating with children: 1. Children are not miniature adults, and the therapist does not respond as if they are. 2. Children are people, capable of experiencing deep emotional pain and joy. 3. Children are unique and worthy of respect. The therapists prizes the uniqueness and respects the person the child is. 4. Children are resilient; they possess a tremendous capacity to overcome obstacles. 5. Children have an inherent tendency toward growth and maturity. 6. Children are capable of positive self-direction. 7. Children’s natural language is play, and this is a medium of self-expression with which they are most comfortable. 8. Children have a right to remain silent. 9. Children will take the therapeutic relationship where they need to be. 10. Children’s growth cannot be sped up. The therapist must recognize the child’s developmental process.
Play not only helps a therapist understand a child’s word and how they perceive it, but it can also be self-healing for the child to
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