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Therapies Principles

The Principles of Play Therapy

Play therapy is a way of helping troubled children cope with distress from an event or a continuous situation in their life.  Using play as the medium of communication between child and therapist the method is based on the central assumption that play is the place where children first recognise the separateness of what is ‘me’ and ‘not me’ and begin to develop a relationship with the world beyond the self.

‘It is the child’s way of making contact with their environment, creating a fictional world to make sense of their own‘. Ann Cattanach.

The general principles of Play Therapy are based on Carl Rogers (1951, 1955) model of psychotherapy - client centred therapy with emphasis placed upon the relationship between therapist and client based upon genuineness, acceptance and trust. Largely influenced by this person centred approach, Axline (1969, 1971) developed a new therapeutic approach for working with children – non directive Play Therapy. Utilising the person centred theoretical foundations, Axline devised a clear and succinct Play Therapy theory and method and her eight principles of the therapeutic relationship are used today by PTUK trained Play Therapists.

These principles are extended into Creative Play for older children. This predominately non-directive approach allows the teenager to be them self in a safe and non-judgmental environment. Through the use of different creative mediums the young person can work through their internalised conflict whilst being fully supported.


Who can play therapy help?


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

·       Abuse and neglect
·       ADHD and ADD
·       Adjusting to family changes
·       Aggression and acting out behaviours
·       Autism (other than severe autism)
·       Bonding and Attachment
·       Bullying (victim and bullies)
·       Chronic illness/hospitalisation/surgery
·       Confidence and self-esteem
·       Excessive anger, fear, sadness, worry and shyness
·       Foster, adoption and identity issues
·       Grief and loss
·       Making friends
·       Near death experiences
·       Physical symptoms without any medical cause, such as soiling
·       Physical disabilities
·       Prenatal and birth trauma
·       School difficulties
·       Selective mutism
·       Separation anxiety
·       Sexual Abuse
·       Sleeping and eating difficulties
·       Social adjustment issues
·       Trauma




Referrals will be accepted from parents (or carers), GP’s, teachers, social workers and other professionals.


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