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Play Therapy Analysis & Recommendations.

Play Therapy Analysis & Recommendations.


Title: Play Therapy Analysis

Introduction: Play therapy is a crucial therapeutic approach for working with children. This assignment involves the analysis of a child-centered play therapy session conducted by an experienced practitioner. The aim is to understand the therapeutic strategies used to engage the child, interpret the child’s behavior and play, and suggest other expressive therapies that could complement the treatment.

I. Analyzing Therapeutic Strategies:

The practitioner in the Child-Centered Play Therapy video employed several effective strategies to engage and communicate with the child:

  1. Non-Directive Approach: The therapist allowed the child to lead the play, providing autonomy and control. This strategy fosters trust and empowerment, enabling the child to express themselves freely.
  2. Reflective Listening: The therapist frequently reflected the child’s statements and emotions. This active listening technique demonstrated empathy, validated the child’s feelings, and encouraged further self-expression.
  3. Unconditional Positive Regard: The therapist maintained a non-judgmental attitude throughout the session, accepting the child’s actions and emotions without criticism. This created a safe and supportive environment.
  4. Empathetic Responding: The therapist responded to the child’s emotional cues with empathy, acknowledging and validating the child’s feelings. This helped the child feel understood and supported.
  5. Play as Communication: The therapist recognized that play is the child’s language, and through play, the child could communicate their thoughts, feelings, and concerns. This approach allowed for a deeper understanding of the child’s inner world.

These strategies had a significant impact on the session by establishing a trusting therapeutic relationship. The child felt heard, accepted, and understood, which facilitated their ability to explore and process emotions through play.

II. Interpreting the Child’s Behavior and Play:

During the play therapy session, several themes and behaviors were observed:

  1. Aggression and Destruction: The child frequently engaged in aggressive and destructive play, such as smashing objects and creating chaos. This may indicate unresolved anger or frustration in the child’s life, possibly related to family or school experiences.
  2. Isolation and Withdrawal: At times, the child isolated themselves in a corner, avoiding interaction with the therapist. This behavior suggests the presence of emotional pain or social difficulties that the child may find challenging to express.
  3. Themes of Loss and Separation: The child incorporated themes of separation and loss in their play, including playing with figures representing family members. These themes might indicate underlying issues related to family dynamics or significant life changes.
  4. Symbolic Play: The child engaged in symbolic play, such as pretending to be a superhero or engaging in imaginary adventures. This suggests a desire to escape from real-life challenges or a need for empowerment and control.

In future sessions, the social worker could explore these themes further, using play as a tool for the child to process and express their emotions related to aggression, isolation, loss, and empowerment.

III. Other Expressive Therapies:

While play therapy is a valuable approach, other expressive therapies could complement the treatment for this client:

  1. Art Therapy: Incorporating art-making activities could help the child express emotions that are difficult to verbalize. Drawing, painting, or sculpting could provide additional avenues for self-expression.
  2. Music Therapy: Music can serve as a non-verbal form of expression. The child could use music to create songs, play instruments, or engage in rhythmic activities to communicate emotions.
  3. Sand Tray Therapy: This modality allows the child to create scenes in a tray filled with sand, using miniature figures and objects. It can help the child explore and process complex emotions and experiences symbolically.
  4. Drama Therapy: Engaging in dramatic play and role-playing can provide the child with a safe space to act out and explore their feelings, conflicts, and relationships.

In conclusion, play therapy is an effective approach for working with children, as demonstrated in the observed session. The therapist’s strategies, combined with a deeper exploration of the child’s behavior and play themes, can inform future sessions. Additionally, integrating other expressive therapies can offer diverse ways for the child to process and communicate their emotions, enhancing the therapeutic process.

Play Therapy Analysis & Recommendations.




“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”

—Fred Rogers

Play therapy is a key treatment modality in social work with children, but it may be less familiar to many mental health professionals. If a social worker has only been trained to conduct certain types of talk therapy geared toward adolescents or adults, it may be challenging to learn how to transfer and apply some of these therapeutic skills in a significantly different format like play therapy. Some of the typical strategies social workers use to engage and build rapport with older clients may look and feel different when conducting play therapy with a very young child. A social worker may feel unsure how to best utilize the session time or may wonder how to discern if play therapy sessions are yielding progress. One of the best ways to gain familiarity with any unfamiliar treatment modality is to observe and study sessions conducted by experts.

In this Assignment, you watch and analyze an experienced play therapist at work and consider how additional expressive therapies could supplement future work with the child.

To prepare:

Review the Learning Resources on play and expressive therapies.

Review the Child-Centered Play Therapy video by Routledgetherapy in the Learning Resources. As you watch the video, consider the strategies used to engage the child and themes drawn from the child’s behavior.

Submit a paper in which you:

  • Analyze the therapeutic strategies the practitioner used to engage and communicate with the child. Explain how these strategies impacted the session.
  • Describe the conclusions you would draw from elements of the child’s behavior and play. In your description, identify themes you observed, questions the child’s behavior raises, and topics the social worker could explore further in future sessions.

Identify other expressive therapies that the practitioner could also use with this client and explain how they could be beneficial.

References to utilize and cite.

Cohen Konrad, S. (2020). Child and family practice: A relational perspective (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press.

Chapter 7, “Play and Expressive Therapies” (pp. 171–208)

Glover, G., & Landreth, G. L. (2016). Child-centered play therapyLinks to an external site.. In K. J. O’Connor, C. E. Schaefer, & L. D. Braverman (Eds.),?Handbook of play therapy (2nd ed.)?(pp. 93–118). John Wiley & Sons.

Sarah, B., Parson, J., Renshaw, K., & Stagnitti, K. (2021). Can children’s play themes be assessed to inform play therapy practice?Links to an external site. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry,?26(1), 257–267.

Association for Play Therapy. (2011, January 29).?Play therapy works!Links to an external site.?[Video].      YouTube.?

Routledgetherapy. (2012, May 16). Child-centered play therapy DVD previewLinks to an external site. [Video]. YouTube.

Note: If you would prefer to view the full play therapy session,       see the Walden Library: Landreth, G. (Producer). (2012). Child-centered play therapy: A clinical sessionLinks to an external site. [Video]. Center       for Play Therapy.

Parker, M. M., Hergenrather, K., Smelser, Q.,      & Kelly, C. T. (2021). Exploring child-centered play      therapy and trauma: A systematic review of literatureLinks to an external site.. International      Journal of Play Therapy, 30(1), 2–13.      https://doi.org/10.1037/pla0000136.supp

Thomas, D. (n.d). Play therapy across the lifespanLinks to an external site..      https://www.playtherapypodcast.org/

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