The therapist's role is to provide the best conditions for clients to be able to heal themselves. By Play Therapy UK Parents can learn from Play Therapists. At the very heart of Play Therapists’ work is the belief that our clients have a natural biological tendency towards healing, health and well-being – not just physically but psychologically as well. The power to change resides within the child and is not mainly a result of direction, advice or information that a practitioner or parent might have to offer. The therapist’s, role is to provide the best conditions for clients to be able to heal themselves. Parents can do this as well. Most important of all is to establish an empathetic therapeutic relationship between client and therapist. Although parents should not be therapists to their own children they can apply some of their principles. Play Therapists trained to Play Therapy UK standards use Axline's principles of non-directive play therapy, where the child chooses what they want to play with. The therapist then communicates with the child using the ‘medium’ such as drawing, sand tray worlds, clay, music, puppets etc.
But how do therapists share their true selves with their clients while remaining non-directive and maintaining the boundaries of a healthy therapeutic relationship? This is achieved through the state of being present in the room. This includes bringing one's whole self into the engagement with clients by being completely in the moment on multiple levels: physically, emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually, being fully immersed in the moment, without judgement or expectation, being with and for the client. The therapist is totally open to the client, while also remaining separate and aware of their own thoughts and feelings. Parents can engage in a similar relationship with their children by letting them choose how they want to play and being fully with them when playing and focusing closely upon them. Try it and see what a difference it makes. When present we are sensitively attuned to what is said by and the bodily expressions of the children as well as being attuned with ourselves.
Could you become a Play Therapist to help many other children? There’s a big need in the West Midlands. (Over 400 in Birmingham alone). Find out by attending a one day introductory course at the Beeches Training Centre, Bournville, Birmingham.