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Psychiatry Edgemont ;5 Series Editor Paulette M. Abstract Play therapy is a treatment modality in which the therapist engages in play with the child. Its use has been documented in a variety of settings and with a variety of diagnoses.
Treating within the context of play brings the therapist and the therapy to the level of the child. By way of an introduction to this approach, a case is presented of a six-year-old boy with oppositional defiant disorder. The presentation focuses on the events and interactions of a typical session with an established patient.
The primary issues of the session are aggression, self worth, and self efficacy. The therapist then reflects these back to the child while gently encouraging the child toward more positive play.
Though the example is one of nondirective play therapy, a wide range of variation exists under the heading of play therapy. More and more, we are identifying and appreciating childhood mental disorders and how they pull children away from normal functioning.
This can affect their home lives, academic performances, as well as their play with peers. Studies have shown the effective use of play therapy in children with different psychiatric diagnoses. Using pre-test, post-test comparison design to evaluate 11 patients in an experimental group and 10 in the control group, Danger, et al.
The tracked symptom was migraine frequency, which had increased with his anxiety. Through play and art he was able to accomplish a resolution of his fears by bringing them to the surface, directly and indirectly in the content of his play and art projects.
As his play and art became less dark and fearful, both his subjective anxiety and migraines decreased. In a related case, play therapy was used as treatment for a four-year-old boy with a psychosomatic postural symptom that resolved quickly over a course of play therapy.
He also had marked regression in speech and increasingly needy or clingy behavior. The head tilt, along with the regressive behaviors served as attention-seeking behavior. Also, as much of his play involved things being broken, needing to be fixed, and the idea of punishment by being hit on the head, the therapist was able to extrapolate that the symptoms also served as self punishment.
By repeating these themes in the face of safe, gentle correction by the therapist, all symptoms resolved for the most part within four sessions. The other case was that of a six-year-old boy showing regressive behavior in imitation of and perhaps competition with his younger, disabled brother.
Achenbach and Craig Edelbrock so that the authors could track the course of behavioral outcomes. The authors tracked the themes present in play from session one to session six based on a standard format. Of note was that changes in play themes in therapy were paralleled by changes in behavior at home.
Outside of the context of specific psychiatric diagnoses, play therapy has been used in a variety of other settings. However, their findings showed only mixed support for the use of play therapy in this setting.
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