April 27, 2012

Play Therapy with Children Who Have Experienced Trauma and Loss

Nancy Boyd Webb, D.S.W., LICSW, RPT-S

Because children are often ill equipped to express feelings through words, play therapy enables them to demonstrate their feelings in non-verbal symbolic ways. Children are able to engage in play that not only brings cathartic relief, but also permits them to try out various solutions that help them feel better. This is especially true when they are bereaved as a result of traumatic circumstances.  Traumatized children are often in pain, but are unable to verbally express  their thoughts and feelings. Often, they can express their feelings of grief and work through their trauma by playing out their stories in non-verbal symbolic ways within the safe context of the therapeutic helping relationship. This workshop presents a number of play therapy methods useful in helping traumatized and bereaved children express and process their feelings of grief. These methods will be illustrated through in-depth case examples that demonstrate the use of play therapy both with the child alone and in conjoint therapy with the child and mother. The methods include the entire range of play therapy methods, such as drawing activities, the use of puppets, dolls and doll houses as well as blocks and toy vehicles such as school buses, ambulances and police cars.

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