Psychology and Allied Health Services

What is Play Therapy?

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than a year of conversation.”– Plato

At Minding Family we work with children and young teens using a combination of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and CBT Directed Play Therapy.

Play Therapy uses the child’s language – play – to communicate ideas and concepts in an age-appropriate way and provides an avenue for children to express themselves freely through a safe medium.  When integrated with Play Therapy, CBT can be adapted for use with children and adolescents to enhance problem solving and coping strategies as well as behavioural and emotional regulation.

Cognitive Behavioural based Play Therapy is also suitable for use in the treatment of anxiety, depression, aggression, adjustment problems, and differences associated with Autism Spectrum Conditions.  When working from this framework, behavioural interventions are usually introduced first with specific assistance and input from families and caregivers.

Subsequently, cognitive interventions are introduced to target thinking styles and promote long term positive coping skills.  Additionally, we involve parents and / or caregivers in the process through regular feedback, discussion of strategies, and review of progress.  Collaboration with other organizations, such as schools and allied health professionals, is also common.

As always, we look forward to continuing to offer a high standard of assessment and therapeutic excellence and honour and commit to the ethical and legal standards of our governing bodies (AHPRA; APS; PACFA).

Play Therapy

Play Therapy is working creatively with children using their principal mode of communication – play.  Virginia Axline (1989) is the founder of child-centred play therapy.

As Jacki Short, Director of Sydney Centre for Creative Change reiterates, play therapy is a powerful means of joining with the innate, nonverbal capacities of children, primarily to engage and then to help them work through their concerns therapeutically.

Play therapy is tailored to the individual’s developmental level and allows children to play out, sometimes literally but often imaginatively, their own experiences and perceptions of the difficulties they are living or have endured.  During play therapy, the child is able to express, regulate, communicate, and with CBT Directed play therapy, practice and master new skills as well as their emotional responses.

Highly recognised Developmental Psychologists such as Piaget and Vygotsky identify the critical pathways to healthy physical, cognitive and psychosocial growth.

Landreth (2012) defines play therapy as:

…..a dynamic interpersonal relationship between a child (or person of any age) and a therapist…who provides selected play materials and facilitates the development of a safe relationship for the child … to fully express and explore self (feelings, thoughts, experiences, and behaviours) through play, the child’s natural medium of communication, for optimal growth and development.

There are many forms of play therapy, however here at Minding Family, we tend to use a contemporary integrative approach that is developed depending on the presenting issue, individual child factors and stage of therapy.  It is also important to note, that while there is substantial evidence for the efficacy of play therapy, we will always evaluate from an evidence informed perspective whether this form of therapy is the most suitable for each child’s presentation.  Including the family will also be very important in most instances.

To best describe Minding Family’s approach, we lean more towards the stage-based model proposed by Geldard and Geldard (2008) that involves a different therapeutic focus at different therapy stages.  This model suggests initially using a client-centred approach to join with the child, followed by gestalt and narrative methods to gain awareness, experience and to release emotion in order to start to develop a new self-awareness.  In the final stages, cognitive behaviour and behaviour therapies are suggested to challenge unhelpful thinking and practice new behaviours.