What is …

What is Play Therapy?

Play Therapy is the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development (Schaefer, 2005).

Play Therapy differs from regular play in that the therapist helps children to address and resolve their own problems, using play materials a part of a therapeutic process. Play therapy builds on the natural way that children learn about themselves and their relationships in the world around them (Axline, 1947; Carmichael, 2006, Landreth, 2002). Play provides a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows expression of thoughts and feelings appropriate to their development. Through play therapy, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behaviour, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others.

Play Therapy often integrates with other therapeutic approaches such as solution focused therapy, TFCBT, CBT, EMDR, Gestalt, Adlerian, systemic family therapy, narrative therapy and/or psycho-educational approaches (to name a few). Play Therapists specifically work with families using well-published approaches such as Theraplay, DDP or Filial Therapy honouring attachment theory (Bowlby). Play Therapy can be used as a short-term or long term intervention. Play Therapy can be used in a variety of settings, such as Children’s Services, Community Agencies, Psychiatric Centres, Children’s Hospitals, Schools, and Women’s Shelters. Play Therapists work with children, teens, adults, groups and families.

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What is Dydadic Development Psychotherapy (DDP)?

DDP is based on and brings together attachment theory, what we understand about developmental trauma, the neurobiology of trauma, attachments and caregiving, inter-subjectivity theory and child development.

Troubled children may have had many changes in the people who look after them and find it hard to trust adults. They may believe that parents aren’t safe and can’t always be turned to for comfort and help. They may develop insecure attachments and try to stop their new parents from becoming emotionally close to them.

The therapy helps the children learn to trust. It is family-based and involves the child with his or her caregivers.

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What is Theraplay?

Theraplay is a child and family therapy for building and enhancing attachment, self-esteem, trust in others, and joyful engagement. It is based on the natural patterns of playful, healthy interaction between parent and child and is personal, physical and fun. Theraplay interactions focus on four essential qualities found in parent-child relationships: Structure, Engagement, Nurture, and Challenge. Theraplay sessions create an active, emotional connection between the child and parent or caregiver, resulting in a changed view of the self as worthy and lovable and of relationships as positive and rewarding.

In treatment, the Theraplay therapist guides the parent and child through playful, fun games, developmentally challenging activities, and tender, nurturing activities. The very act of engaging each other in this way helps the parent regulate the child’s behaviour and communicate love, joy, and safety to the child. It helps the child feel secure, cared for, connected and worthy. We call this “building relationships from the inside out.”

For further information on Theraplay, please click here.