Play therapy is one of the most natural and effective forms of child therapy. This therapeutic approach is implemented to help children in overcoming multiple psychological issues and emotionally traumatic experiences through the process of play. Moreover, the therapy helps to eliminate and reduce the behavioral problems, as well as the complications in cognitive, physiological, and social-emotional development (Crenshaw & Stewart, 2015).
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Throughout the course of the therapy, a child learns to understand own feelings, develops the communicative skills and the skills of decision-making. Play therapy helps to build child’s self-esteem and confidence which are important for the development of sound individual social and self-identity.
To understand a child and find an adequate approach to the young client, a therapist should evaluate him/her from an emotional point of view. To reduce the child’s negative attitude to therapy, it is important to show the interested in his/her personality and attempt to build warm and trustful relationships with the client. At the same time, therapists’ attitude to children should remain unconditional and unprejudiced – teachers do not criticize children and do not demand any personal changes in them (Crenshaw & Stewart, 2015).
In this way, a teacher may create a sense of security and permissibility which support child’s freedom of exploration and self-expression.
The sensitivity to the emotional experiences of a child may help to overcome the severe attitude problems. Moreover, it is important to grant a child with a right to take a lead in all dimensions of therapeutic relationships (Crenshaw & Stewart, 2015). In play therapy, a child should be the one who initiates the games and conversations while the main responsibility of therapists is understanding of child’s feelings and delicate reflection of his/her emotions in a way that assists him/her in reaching self-comprehension.
The parental involvement into the course of play therapy can be useful as well because it can help to identify the extent of caregiver’s influence on the occurrence of early developmental issues. The parents’ education and consultation are recommended to improve the environmental conditions at home and consolidate the positive and supportive role of parents in the process of recovery.
It is observed that the development of individual self, including the patterns of communication and behavior, are largely affected by the early perceptions of social evaluations, and especially parental ones (Crenshaw & Stewart, 2015). While growing up, a child contacts with parents and other adults, and the attitudes of those adults substantially impact the formation of child’s self-esteem. In the attempts to preserve the positive self-identity, children may distort communication and other social experiences and disrupt interpersonal interactions (Crenshaw & Stewart, 2015).
The findings emphasize the importance of parenting style in childhood development and, and they make it clear that the correction of caregivers’ attitudes and communicative habits may impact child’s psychological state in a positive way and contribute to the occurrence of secure psychological attachment to parents.
The education of parents through the direct involvement in the process of play helps them to build the psychologically competent parent-child relationships aimed at resolving and prevention of social, emotional, and behavioral problems in children. During the course of education, a therapist provides the supervisory support and assists parents in the application of the accumulated therapeutic experience at home.
The researchers believe that social, emotional, and behavioral problems in children occur primarily due to the lack of caregivers’ knowledge and inadequate parenting skills (Crenshaw & Stewart, 2015). Thus, play therapy may serve as the educational model for the establishment of sound parent-child relations which can reduce the major risk factors for the development of multiple developmental issues in children.
Crenshaw, D., & Stewart, A. (2015). Play therapy: A comprehensive guide to theory. New York, NY: Guilford.