Child Centered Play Therapy is a heartful, humanistic form of counselling and psychotherapy for children from 2-10 year old. It offers a deeply respectful, evidence based and empathic form of early intervention for children and families.
Child Centered Play Therapy fosters the
child’s innate potential for inner growth and healing and supports the social, emotional, psychological, behavioural and developmental growth of the child. In non directive Child Centered Play Therapy, the Play Therapist enters the child's world and experience as fully as possible, following the child's lead and developing a relationship of safety and trust.
While adults tend to speak in counselling and psychotherapy sessions about what has happened to them, how things have impacted them and how they are feeling, children
often have difficulty putting these things into words. Child Centered Play Therapy offers
a beautiful way to work with children, with play being the child's natural language and where toys can be their words.
In this Play Therapy approach, we can work with very young children and non verbal children who have had challenging or traumatic early life experiences, as the child does
not need to talk to the therapist or answer questions. This is different to many other
Play Therapy and counselling approaches used with children.
Play Therapy sessions are usually held in a playroom that has a range of carefully selected toys and creative materials including art materials and musical instruments. In Child Centered Play Therapy the child selects the toys she/he wants to play with. The Play Therapist joins in the play or art activities at the child's invitation or direction if this is
felt to be therapeutically helpful.
We see themes emerge in the sessions and children often go through the following stages
in the Play Therapy process: Warm Up, Testing for Protection, Dependency/ Regressive
and Mastery /Therapeutic Growth. For some children they move through these stages sequentially and for others, there is a back and forth that happens between the stages.
In Child Centered Play Therapy, limits are set as and when needed. The limit setting approach used in Child Centered Play Therapy can be very effectively integrated into
a wide range of work roles and settings with children. It includes empathy and helps children make healthy choices and develop self responsibility.
Play Therapy sessions are generally held on a regular weekly basis and parents/carers
are an integral and important part of the Play Therapy process. The Play Therapist/
Mental Health Professional does an assessment before working with a child in Child Centered Play Therapy to ensure this Play Therapy approach is recommended linked
with the child's current situation and her/his history and family background.
It is a therapeutic modality that can be very effectively used in working with children
from complex and early trauma backgrounds and can also be used for trauma debriefing.
Child Centered Play Therapy is a beautiful, deeply empathic way to work with children
and can have a profound and very positive impact on the lives of children and families.
Research has found Child Centered Play Therapy to be an effective counselling and psychotherapy approach for children. Outlined are some of the areas Child Centered Play Therapy can help with:
For evidence based research on the effectiveness of Child Centered Play Therapy, the following book is available: Child Centered Play Therapy Research:
The Evidence Base for Effective Practice by Jennifer N. Baggerly (Author, Editor), Dee C. Ray (Author, Editor), Sue C. Bratton (Author, Editor).