What is play Therapy?

Play therapy is a treatment modality used by specifically trained professionals with children who suffer from emotional and behavioral difficulties, who are adjusting to new circumstances or who are undergoing life-altering changes. Play therapy utilizes the child’s innate impulse to play out their fears, worries, and conflicts and in fact their whole inner landscape. When presented with a safe and therapeutic environment containing toys that invite the imagination, most children will immediately begin to play. The trained play therapist can observe the play, interpret its possible meanings, reflect the feelings expressed back to the child without judgment and in this moment, both play therapist and child can communicate through the metaphor the child’s inner truth. Children can then engage in a process or series of appointments with the play therapist in which the conflicts are expressed and brought to resolution through play.

Play therapy has a long and proud tradition stemming from Sigmund Freud. He was the first person to recommend using play and art to assist a five year old boy with his fears. His student, Hermine Hug-Hellmuth, and later Anna Freud and Melanie Klein applied Freud’s theories to their work with children through play. Since then, many other approaches to play therapy have been developed.

There are numerous types of play therapy from very structured and directive to child-centered or child-directed. Play therapy is not in itself a theoretical base, but a modality that can be applied to many different theoretical frameworks. There are cognitive-behavioral play therapists, psychoanalytic play therapists, Adlerian play therapists and relationship-based play therapists. The skilled play therapist can tailor the intervention to meet the needs of each child. Play Therapy is the most developmentally appropriate modality for the young child with emotional problems as it meets the child at the child’s level of communication: play.

The play therapist needs to be trained in a mental health discipline, at least at the Master’s degree level. Play therapy is used by many different kinds of child therapists from psychiatrists to psychologists to social workers, marriage and family counselors, school counselors and child psychiatric nurses. There are university-level play therapy trainings in the United States and many workshops and conferences throughout the country. Here in Hawaii, I offer on-going trainings in play therapy from beginning to advanced. Click here to see the next training. **

Play therapists can pass the requirements to become a Registered Play Therapist or Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor through the Association for Play Therapy. This registration process indicates that the play therapist has a strong knowledge base related to play therapy and has received extensive training and supervision in this area. For a list of RPT’s or RPT-S’s in your area or to read the requirements for registration, visit the A.P.T. website at www.a4pt.org.

Please visit our local organisation www.hawaiiplaytherapy.net

What is Sandplay Therapy?

Sandplay therapy was created by Dora Kalff, a Jungian analyst who attended the Jung Institute in Zurich, collaborated with Dr. Carl Jung and was encouraged by him to study psychology and to work with children.

In 1954, while still studying at the Jung Institute, Kalff attended a lecture by Dr. Margaret Lowenfeld. Lowenfeld presented a lecture and slide show of The World Technique, in which children at her clinic were invited to create their “worlds” in a sand tray. Dora Kalff was quite impressed with this presentation and discussed it with Dr. Jung. He also remembered seeing Dr. Lowenfeld present at a Paris conference in 1937. He encouraged Kalff to pursue studies with Lowenfeld. In 1956, Kalff moved to London and studied with Lowenfeld at her clinic for one year. She returned to Switzerland and over the next several years integrated her understanding of Jungian theory with the Lowenfeld technique and her long-standing study of Buddhism. In 1966 she finally published her book Sandspiel in German or Sandplay in English.

Today Sandplay is practiced the world over by clinicians of varying disciplines: psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and psychiatric nurses. It requires learning a unique body of knowledge and applying it to work with adults and children. The client is invited to create a scene in a tray of sand. The client creates a Sandplay in the outer world which reflects the situation of his or her inner world. In this way, the inner and outer worlds are bridged. Creating a series of Sandplays over time facilitates the integration of the personality. The presence of a trained Sandplay therapist promotes this psychological healing.

Training leading to becoming certified as a Sandplay therapist is available throughout the U.S., Europe and Japan. For trainings and workshops in Hawaii, click on Sandplay Trainings. For more information about Sandplay Therapists of America visit www.sandplay.org to learn about the Journal of Sandplay Therapy, biannual conferences and regional trainings. For further reading, see Sandplay Past, Present and Future by Rie Rogers Mitchell and Harriet S. Friedman.

Our local organization: www.hawaiiplaytherapy.net


315 Uluniu Street, Suite 207, Kailua, Hawaii 96734    *    Phone: 808-261-0066    *    Fax: 808-261-0096    *    carlasharp@hawaii.rr.com