Play Therapy Techniques - Professional Psychology: Research...

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Fifteen Effective Play Therapy Techniques Tara M. Hall Fairleigh Dickinson University Heidi Gerard Kaduson Play Therapy Training Institute Charles E. Schaefer Fairleigh Dickinson University A plethora of innovative play therapy techniques have been developed in recent years to implement the therapeutic powers of play. The purpose of this article is to concisely describe 15 techniques that are effective, enjoyable, inexpensive, and easy to implement. Included in the description of each technique are the therapeutic rationale, materials needed, step-by-step implementation guide, and applications. The techniques selected are appropriate for 4–12-year-old children and cover an extensive array of play approaches (e.g., art, fantasy, sensorimotor, and game play). The chosen techniques address several pertinent presenting problems such as anxiety, depression, impulsivity, distractibility, and noncompliance. For over 60 years, play therapy has been a well-established and popular mode of child treatment in clinical practice. One reason play therapy has proven to be a particularly useful approach with children is that they have not yet developed the abstract reasoning abilities and verbal skills needed to adequately articulate their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. For children, toys are their words, and play is their conversation. Play therapy can be defined as an interpersonal process wherein a trained therapist systematically applies the curative powers of play (e.g., relationship enhancement, role-playing, abreaction, communication, mastery, catharsis, attachment formation, etc.) to help the clients resolve their current psychological difficulties and help prevent future ones. Play therapy techniques specify how to use the play materials so as to effectively implement the therapeu- tic powers of play (Schaefer, 1993). The purpose of this article is to describe 15 clinically useful play therapy techniques. Previously published reports have been sim- plified and condensed so as to highlight practical “how-to” infor- mation in a clear, concise format. A more complete description of each technique is found in the original publications. The selection of techniques for this article was guided by three main criteria: (a) to include an extensive variety of play ap- proaches (e.g., sensorimotor, art, fantasy, and game play), (b) to focus on techniques appropriate for 4–12-year-old children, and (c) to present techniques that are enjoyable, inexpensive, and easy to implement. The goals of the chosen techniques include helping children become aware of and express their feelings; manage anger; improve self-control; reduce fear, anxiety, and depression; increase empowerment; and enhance problem-solving skills. We do not intend this article to be viewed as a “cookbook”
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Play Therapy Techniques - Professional Psychology: Research...

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