Home' Belonging Early Years Journal : Volume 4 No 3 Contents 18 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • VOLUME 4 NUMBER 3 • 2015
educational resources, programs + planning
Play is an enjoyable experience whose therapeutic
powers facilitate or mediate change.
'...the play actually helps produce the change and
is not just a medium for applying other change agents,
nor does it just moderate the strength or direction of
therapeutic change' (Schaefer & Drewes, 2014).
Schaefer and Drewes (2014) identify the 20 core
therapeutic powers of play within four categories:
1 . It allows for self-expression, access to the
unconscious, direct teaching and indirect
teaching. Play promotes and facilitates
2 . It fosters emotional wellness through the
development of a better awareness of, and control
over, distressing feelings, while also experiencing
the positive effects of positive emotions.
3 . Play and the therapeutic relationship enhance
social relationships through attachment, social
competence and empathy, while increasing the
personal strengths of the child.
4 . It provides the child with opportunities to explore
their creative problem-solving skills, resiliency, moral
development, self-regulation and self-esteem.
The incredible and vast capacity for play and
play therapy to help children facilitate change
requires 'holding' within the therapeutic relationship.
Psychological holding is only possible when someone
has an understanding of the theories, practices and
techniques involved in a thorough understanding of
play as therapy. A registered play therapist is required
to be educated appropriately, and have undergone
supervision, personal therapy and approval from a
regulating body, such as the Australasia Paci c Play
Therapy Association (APPTA).This will ensure that the
training of the therapist meets the minimum standards
in the eld.
Having an understanding of the bene ts of play
therapy and the children that would bene t from
it reveals the ideal circumstances for referral. Once
a play therapist receives a referral from a parent,
para-professional or professional, the therapeutic
process begins.This involves an intake session with the
team consisting of the child and the child's parents,
teachers, carers, and other health professionals.
The therapist gathers information about the
developmental history of the child, and the child's
background in family and school structures. An initial
session is organised to demonstrate the play space to
the child and provide an opportunity to ask questions.
The child will then have a speci c number of sessions,
with a speci c duration and frequency, decided in
consultation with the child's guardian and the therapist.
It is not always possible to place a time frame on the
requirements of a child; rather, the therapist monitors the
journey of the child and communicates with everyone
when preparing for an ending.
About the authors
Laura West: Higher Degree Research candidate
Deakin University, Play Therapist -- Children at play.
Dr Judi Parson: Lecturer in Mental Health, Child Play
Therapy, Deakin University.
Bratton, S. & Ray, D. (2000). 'What the research shows about play therapy.
Journal of Play Therapy, 9(1), 47-88.
Fromberg D.P & Bergen, D. (2006) Play from birth to twelve: contexts,
perspectives and meanings (2nd edition). New York, NY. Routledge.
Landreth, G. (2012). Play therapy: The art of the relationship (3rd ed.).
New York, NY: Routledge.
Landreth, G., Homeyer, L., & Morrison, M. (2006) 'Play as a language of
children's feelings'. Play from birth to twelve: contexts, perspectives and
meanings (2nd edition: 47-62) New York, NY. Routledge.
Parson, J & West, L.(2015) 'Play therapy.
' Belonging Early Years Journal,
Ray, D., Bratton, S., Rhine,T. & Jones, L. (2001). 'The effectiveness of play
therapy: responding to the critics.
' International Journal of Play Therapy,
Schaefer, C., & Drewes, A. (2014) The Therapeutic Powers of Play: 20 Core
Agents of Change, (2nd edition). New Jersey, NJ. Wiley
A registered play therapist is required to be educated
appropriately, and have undergone supervision, personal
therapy and approval from a regulating body, such as the
Australasia Pacific Play Therapy Association (APPTA)
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