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Play Therapy

By: MARY BARRY

Wednesday 06 May 2020

“Enter into children's play and you will find the place where their minds, hearts, and souls meet.” Virginia Axline

Play therapy is an effective form of therapy for children with a wide range of emotional and behavioural difficulties including anxiety, aggression, depression and issues relating to difficult life experiences such as abuse, bereavement and loss, family breakdown/separation, domestic violence and trauma.

We know that children use play as a form of communication in everyday life. In play therapy children use play -their natural medium of expression- to express themselves and learn how to gain control over difficult feelings, memories and reactions. Garry L. Landreth, another renowned play therapist states that “play is the child’s symbolic language of self-expression and can reveal:

(a) what the child has experienced;
(b) reactions to what was experienced;
(c) feelings about what was experienced;
(d) what the child wishes, wants, or needs; and 
(e) the child’s perception of self” in his book Play Therapy: The Art of the Relationship.

Research suggests play therapy is an effective mental health approach, regardless of age, gender, or the nature of the problem, and works best when a parent, family member, or caretaker is actively involved in the treatment process. It is a suitable intervention for children aged between three and twelve years.

In brief, play therapy helps by:
• providing children with emotional support.
• allowing children make sense of life experiences by playing them out at their own pace.
• helping children to deal with conflict/angry feelings in more appropriate ways.
• helping children develop confidence and positive self-esteem.
• helping children find healthier ways of communicating and promote resilience and coping.
• Helping the parent/carer to understand their child’s world.

This work is challenging, rewarding, mystical, and fascinating. My experiences as a play therapist have thought me that each individual child who crosses my playroom door brings their own personal story and play expression to the room. Ultimately the human spirit in all of us strives to survive and heal, this is no less in our children. My job is to facilitate and share in this healing journey with each one of those amazing children I have had the privilege to work with.

The wisdom and benefit of play has been with us since ancient times as noted by Plato: “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” - Plato (Greek philosopher 427–347 BC)

For further information link to www.ipta.ie

 

BIO:

Mary Barry is a long-time practitioner, working with children since those long-ago eighties when I qualified as a bright new shiny Montessori teacher.Mary's passion has always been to work with children in a supportive, facilitative manner, enabling them to use the curiosity, drive, fun and spontaneous traits that support their optimum learning and development.
Mary  first trained as a Montessori teacher, and has evolved into a play therapist on her career path. The tenets of both these disciplines fulfil that early passion and satisfy the working drive.

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