What is Play Therapy?
Through play, therapists can help children learn more adaptive behaviour in situations where the child presents emotional, or social deficits.

Step-by-step therapy

Starting therapy


Starting therapy

The start of therapy is preceded by a meeting with the parents and the child, which lasts 45-60 minutes. The aim of this meeting is to assess the child's position in the family, to familiarise the child with the ways of communicating in the family.
This is followed by 1-2 meetings between the therapist and the parents. The aim of these meetings is to interview the parents, find out about the child's difficulties experienced by his/her parents, fill in the SDQ, sign the therapeutic contract together with the planned number of therapy sessions and evaluation meetings with the parents .
The therapist's next meeting is with the child and is an introductory session. It usually lasts about 30 minutes. During this meeting, the therapist introduces the Play Room and its equipment to the child and makes initial contact with the child.
After the introductory session, the child's core therapy begins.

Proceedings of the session

The session begins in a fixed way by identifying the child's emotional state.
During the 45-minute therapy session, the child independently selects and actively uses the materials available in the playroom. The child's use of varied materials such as sand and water, paints, glue, miniatures of human figures, animals, trees - gives free rein and space for the child's imagination.
Creating a world in sand, for example, gives the child the opportunity to experience himself in action and develops a sense of agency and control in his world. The atmosphere of unconditional acceptance, so characteristic of Play Therapy, and the safe relationship- created between therapist and child, form the basis of the therapeutic process.
The session ends in a fixed way, by informing the child of the end, which takes place 5 minutes before the end of the session and after 45 minutes of the session.

Proceedings of the session

Time + materials

One therapy session with a child lasts 45 minutes.

In exceptional cases (e.g. young children around 3 years old, children with ADHD), sessions start with 30 minutes and are gradually extended to 45 minutes. Usually, after the first session, the children request an extension. So, without any problem, the next session can already last the full length of the Play Therapy session, i.e. 45 minutes.
The materials in the Play Room are definitely different from other therapy rooms. The child in the Play Therapy Room has the following types of materials to choose from:
- a sandbox with a bottom and side walls in blue
- a set of figures to play in the sandbox, representing human characters, domestic animals and wild animals, in addition buildings, plants
- positive and negative fairy tale characters, insects, crystals, stones, etc.
- Puppets of human figures, animals - 2 of each type
- Musical instruments - 2 of each type
- Costumes and masks
- Materials for movement expression, e.g. pompoms, sashes, ropes, ribbons, blankets
- Materials for creative activities, e.g. paints, crayons, markers, clay, pastry, papers.
- Therapeutic stories and creative visualisations are created by the therapist individually for each child.

Creative visualization   Understanding and thinking
Therapeutic storytelling   Spiritual and moral development
Drama Social   Relations
Puppets and masks   Self-care
Materiały kreatywne   Creativity and sense of aesthetics
Musical instruments   Communication
Dance and movement   Physical skills
Sandbox /Sand   Play Emotional skills

Completion of therapy

The decision to terminate therapy is made during a joint conversation and exchange of information between the therapist and parents.
Usually, termination of therapy takes place when the therapy goals set by the parents in the initial interview have been achieved.
The number of therapy sessions depends on the severity of the child's difficulties. For minor difficulties 6 weekly meetings are suggested. For major difficulties- 12 sessions. For severe difficulties the therapy lasts 6-12 months.

Effects of Play Therapy

- the development of a more positive self-image,
- the child taking more responsibility for himself/herself,
- an increased capacity for self-direction,
- increased self-acceptance,
- increased self-reliance,
- the child's independent decision-making,
- the experience of a sense of control,
- the development of his/her own internal source of judgement.

During play, the child integrates his or her experience. This process requires the presence of a trusted therapist who accepts the communication and sufficiently reflects it. In such extremely specific conditions, the individual can integrate and exist as a whole, and this process is an expression of the sense that I AM, I am alive, I am myself (D. Winnicot).
The effect of Play Therapy is to create in the child a representation of a secure relationship with an adult as a result of experiencing a secure bond with the therapist. In this way, the child can develop his/her social competence by transferring the new pattern of relationship with the therapist to others in his/her environment.

Play Therapy enables a child to pay attention to their own feelings and look at their own feelings in a safe, accepting environment.
This helps children learn:
- that experiencing all feelings is normal, accepted,
- to deal with their feelings in a safe and constructive way.

Play Therapy helps the child to engage and develop their own inner strength. It helps the child to recognise the sources of this strength. It helps the child to feel in control of his/her own life in an atmosphere of acceptance.
Effects of Play Therapy

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