I was once about 2-3 minutes late for a session. I was embarrassed because I didn't start at the session time. My almost 4-year-old client said almost with tears in his eyes: "You're the one who doesn't live here !" his reaction was not only an expression of concern about my absence. It was also an expression of the fact that he expects to be stable, ready and always there when he is.
In my experience, a child's sense of security is built on feelings of stability, immutability and predictability. Predictability gives a sense of control, or an attitude of "I know", "I understand". This, in turn, gives a sense of empowerment "I can".
Stability must therefore be about both the materials and the therapist ..and the rules.
Stability of the materials concerns both their presence, i.e. the child has access to the same materials at each session. It also concerns the location of the materials in the Play Room: their place is the same in each session. It is interesting to note that in the UK approach, toys are only bought once a year: at Christmas. Throughout the year they are the same and unchanging. When something breaks it is worth fixing it as soon as possible. If you can't fix it, you have to buy identical ones. Here I am reminded of a client who, after two years out of therapy, came back and at the first session asked: "where are the ponies I always played with?". I might add that he was the only client who used these ponies.
The stability of the therapist's attitudes, the predictability of his/her behaviour for the child are the basis of a secure therapeutic relationship, and it is a secure and trusting therapeutic relationship that is the basis of any therapeutic process. Without this, there is no progression in the therapeutic process. As the therapeutic relationship develops, the child opens up to new ways of seeing his or her problems, trying effective as well as ineffective ways of solving them. Child decides-child takes responsibility-child changes-child decides-and the circle goes on until the right solution is found.
Stability of rules - it is
always the same Virginia Axline's non-directive therapy rules, the same rules regarding boundaries, the safety of the child and the therapist. Here, nothing changes and boundaries are introduced as soon as a situation arises that requires them to be reminded.
Stability is something that, in the eyes of the child, sets Play Therapy apart from other activities in life.
As adults, we do not even realise how much the world changes every day in the eyes of a child. Often we ourselves make changes that ruin a child's sense of security. The result is withdrawal in some children and aggression in others.
Through stability in Play Therapy, the child regains control of themselves, regains a sense of being in control of their life. The child becomes a person and not a tool in the hands of other people.