Monday, August 4, 2014

More Play Therapy!

I was so jazzed about the play therapy workshop I took this winter, I decided to take an introduction to play therapy class at a local university in my neighborhood this summer. It was awesome! I learned SO much in just a few short weeks.  The class confirmed my decision to work towards becoming a registered play therapist.

I thought I would share some of the basic skills I learned. 

1. Tracking-Narrating the child's actions with the toys. 

For example, if a child picks up a doll and places it in the doll house, the therapist would track the child by saying, "You are picking up the doll and placing it in the house". 

2. Reflecting Feeling-Stating the emotion the child is displaying.

For example, if the child is playing out a scene where the doll is yelling, the counselor would reflect the feeling by saying, "the doll is very angry".

3. Returning Responsibility- the therapist empowers the child to make his or hers own decisions.

For example, if a child picks up a doll and says "what is this?", the therapist would return responsibility to the child by replying, "in here it can be whatever you want it to be".

Although these skills are basic, they are effective! I have been working with young students for over five years now. With the implementation of a few new toys and these basic skills I saw an increase in the quality of counseling I was able to provide to my students. Additionally, if you work with elementary age children you know that just talking does not work. Play therapy gives you a structured way to engage young children effectively. Gary Landreth, author of Play Therapy The Art of The Relationship, models these skills in this short video below:

I highly encourage you add Play Therapy The Art of The Relationship by Gary Landreth and Dibs In Search of Self by Virgina Axline to your summer reading list. Also, be sure to check out The Association for Play Therapy newly designed website if you haven't already. There are a ton of great resources for you available on this site!