Contemporary Theories and Therapies

Play Therapy

Client- Centered Therapy
Gestalt Therapy
Transactional Analysis
Reality Therapy
Rational Therapy
Behavior Therapy
Sex Counseling Therapy
Neuro- Lingustic Programming
Milieu Therapy
Muscle Relaxation Approaches
Parental Education/ Effectivness
Hypnosis and Self Hypnosis
Deep Breathing and Imagery Relaxation
Play Therapy
Crisis Intervention
Task- Centered Practice


Founders: Amester(1943), Axine (1969) and Moustakas (1953)

Definition/ Description: The systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development."

Therapeutic Goal: Play theory serves many purposes: making a diagnosis, forming a relationship, venting feelings, working through unwanted emotions, teaching desired new behaviors, or modeling alternative behavior.

Research has found Play Therapy  to be an effective therapeutic approach for a variety of children's difficulties including:

 Adjusting to family changes such as separation and divorce.            

  Making friend

 Excessive anger, fear, sadness, worry & shyness

 Aggression & acting out

 School difficulties


 Abuse & neglect

 Social adjustment issues

 Sleeping and eating difficulties

 Self concept & self esteem Trauma Grief & loss

 Autism (in cases other than severe autism) Chronic illness / hospitalization   

 Physical symptoms without medical cause


Treatment Techniques:

Play Therapy sessions are usually held in a playroom that has a range of carefully selected toys and

materials.  In special circumstances, Play Therapy sessions can also be offered in other settings such as home and in hospital. In the playroom, the child can express feelings, thoughts, experiences and behaviours through play. Toys are used like words and become the child’s natural language.

Analysis: Play therapy is used widely in the social work prctice. When working with children, there are very few therapies that apply. Play therapy is used the most when working with children ages 12 and under.

  • The Practice of Social Work: Applications of Generalist and Advanced Content  Charles H. Zastrow  7th Edition  pg466

Sowk 355 Jermaine Williams  Fall 2005
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