Initially developed in the turn of the 20th century, today play therapy refers to a large number of treatment methods, all applying the therapeutic benefits of play. Play therapy differs from regular play in that the therapist helps children to address and resolve their own problems. 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).
Tweens and Teens
This population requires a lot of creativity and activity in therapy. They do not feel comfortable with open-ended questions or nebulous hypotheticals (“What do you think about that”?). Teens do well with specific directives where they are able to complete a given task and then discuss it. We often use creative projects such as art or therapeutic games to deal with emotions, family, friends and more.
Individuals and Families
When doing family therapy, we tend to be more interested in what goes on between individuals rather than within one or more individuals. In a family therapy session, we typically see that clients frequently mirror habitual interaction patterns at home, even though the therapist is now incorporated into the family system. Therapy interventions usually focus on relationship patterns rather than on analyzing impulses of the unconscious mind or early childhood trauma of individuals.
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