What is Play Therapy?
According to the Association for Play Therapy, play therapy is defined as “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained Play Therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.”
In play therapy, there is no expectation that the child has to talk about their thoughts or feelings. In play therapy, the play is the communication!
In the world of play therapy, there are many different models or theories of play therapy that a therapist may utilize. Adlerian play therapy is just one of over thirty different types of those theories or models.
What is Adlerian Play Therapy?
Adlerian Play Therapy is a model of play therapy, developed by Dr. Terry Kottman and based upon Alfred Adler’s model of psychology, that “allows children to engage in a therapeutic process that values them as creative, resourceful, and whole.”
One thing that makes Adlerian play therapy different from the other types of play therapy is that it uses a holistic approach. Adlerian play therapists look at each individual child as well as the settings and relationships in which that child lives. With this, Adlerian play therapy includes working with parents and teachers as well as with the child directly, which means that as a trained Adlerian Play Therapist, I may ask you, as the parent/caregiver, to participate in sessions.
What Can I Expect for Myself or My Child from Participating in Adlerian Play Therapy?
Adlerian therapists focus in learning about your child’s lifestyle. “Lifestyle” is the Adlerian term for a person’s subjective view of the world and how he or she fits within that world. Adlerians believe that lifestyles are formed as young children in reaction to both positive and negative experiences. Through individual lifestyles, it is hypothesized that people want to repeat the good things and avoid the negative things that occur in life. Sometimes, lifestyles can lead to difficult emotional and behavioral patterns that are problematic to the child, as well as those around the child.
Adlerian play therapists work with you and your child see problematic patterns of thoughts, feelings, and/or behaviors and help you and your child to learn new skills to make changes. I will work with you and your child to set therapeutic goals to help your child to learn skills to develop into their best self.
Adlerian play therapy allows for therapists to individualize treatment to each person’s unique needs. Adlerian play therapy allows me to work people of all ages in ways to build on each individual person’s assets and interests. In Adlerian play therapy, I am able to provide a child, teen, and even adults with a variety of ways to communicate using many different techniques including free play, therapist–directed play, games, art techniques, metaphorical storytelling, therapy utilizing books, sand tray activities, movement and dance, music, and more.
What Does the Adlerian Play Therapy Process Look Like?
The Adlerian play therapy process is comprised of four phases of treatment:
The first phase is focused on the therapist building a relationship with mutual trust and respect with your child. During this phase, the child learns that therapy will be a place where responsibility and power are shared.
The second phase involves the therapist using play therapy techniques to gather more information about your child and the different aspects of your child’s lifestyle.
The third phase uses play techniques to help your child to gain insight and awareness into their lifestyle and to shift patterns of behavior within the playroom.
The final phase involves problem–solving and teaching your child ways to begin to practice skills to use outside of the playroom to help them to lead a more fulfilling and satisfying life. This process will look different for each individual as each child has different needs and goals along their therapy journey.
How Do Children React to Adlerian Play Therapy?
If your child leaves therapy with me and tells you that all we did was play, I have done my job correctly! Adlerian Play Therapy is an enjoyable process for children because it values the child for who they are and utilizes playful means of interaction, which provides for a very enjoyable yet therapeutic environment for you child.
You will not have to force your child to engage in therapy once the Adlerian Play Therapy process begins, but you may have to deal with frequent questions from your child about they can return to the playroom again!
While I look forward to working with your child, I also look forward to working with you as caregivers to better explain and involve you in this process and to help you to help your child. If you are ready to get started with Adlerian Play Therapy, call our office at (605) 275-0009 to set up your first appointment.