Utilizing the Energy of Play Remedy to Free a Frightened Youngster


Play is the kid’s language and toys are their phrases

Garry Landreth   

Play remedy hasn’t all the time been taken severely in educational and scientific settings. In any case, it has play in its title. Nonetheless, those that commonly use it of their scientific work and/or are skilled as registered play therapists absolutely perceive its therapeutic energy. I’ve all the time been interested in play as a pure medium for self-expression through which the kid can deal with and work by way of complicated and sometimes painful emotions, conflicts, and experiences in a spot of security and safety, freed from judgement and strain. I’ve been significantly drawn to the non-directive strategy to play remedy pioneered by Virginia Axline and later Garry Landreth, which depends on constructing a trusting therapeutic relationship with the therapist and letting the kid lead the play with out grownup path.


4-year-old Jasmin* was referred for play remedy to the youngsters’s hospital outpatient clinic in Dubai, United Arab Emirates the place I work. She was combating extreme anxiousness and was unable to tolerate being round different individuals, together with members of the family. She skilled panic assaults if somebody spoke to her and was unable to play in crowded areas. Jasmin’s mom was deeply involved that, as a result of her daughter had missed her likelihood to begin faculty, she wouldn’t have the ability to dwell a traditional life or have buddies.

I gathered from her historical past that Jasmin’s life journey had begun within the shadow of extreme separation anxiousness. Her dad and mom had been immigrants from a neighboring Arab nation and had prolonged household residing close by, in the end settling down in Dubai the place Jasmin was born. Jasmin skilled many medical problems straight after her start: she spent nearly 4 months within the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), with solely in the future out of 100 with skin-to-skin contact. Jasmin’s mom turned extremely protecting of her fragile toddler daughter, shielding her from different individuals and giving her something she wished. This was possible associated to guilt from the expertise that they shared ever since Jasmin’s start.

In our earliest play remedy session, Jasmin’s mom was fearful and pessimistic that her daughter might be helped to beat her — or maybe I ought to say “their” anxiousness and fears. Jasmin arrived for that session crying, screaming, and saying she wished to go house whereas hiding her face and clutching her mom in intense concern. She didn’t settle for any direct communication from me.

Within the coming weeks I maintained a consistency in my quiet and affected person presence, with hopes of lowering Jasmin’s concern and offering a predictable atmosphere for her. Ultimately her crying stopped, and Jasmin appeared extra snug in my presence, displaying a burgeoning curiosity in a few of the toys and supplies within the playroom. Maybe the seeds of belief had been being sown.

Within the following 5 to 10 classes, she as soon as once more started hiding her face and regressed to avoiding any direct speech on my half, as a substitute selecting to carry on to her mom. I’m undecided what modified this early course of “progress” for the higher, however after a couple of extra classes through which I used to be constant, respectful of her have to withdraw, and validating in small verbal and non-verbal methods, Jasmin as soon as once more shared eye contact with me. Nonetheless, she continued to solely talk non-verbally regardless of this progress.

After a couple of dozen classes — which can seem to be rather a lot to those that haven’t relied solely on a non-directive strategy — there was a breakthrough. Jasmin spoke! She appeared to slowly settle for my presence, engaged in play, grew extra visibly snug in our relationship. From that session onwards, she laughed, giggled, requested me to attract, commented on my drawings, and shared her toys with me. She started talking brazenly about her ideas and emotions, and at one level, even gave me a excessive 5! But, whereas these had been certainly enormous steps for Jasmin, she was nonetheless talking solely by way of her mom, telling her what she wished to play as a substitute of asking me straight. It’s necessary to notice that in the course of the preliminary classes, Jasmin used the sand tray to discover and specific her ideas and emotions.

My Play Remedy Room


Musical Devices

As our time collectively went on, Jasmin slowly solidified her confidence, utilizing puppets to talk for her in order that she would possibly preserve a protected distance from her issues. Equally, she turned more and more snug utilizing the inventive arts supplies, paint, and messy play to work by way of the tough emotions she was experiencing, principally round concern. After 4 months of attending play remedy, Jasmin felt protected sufficient to bodily separate from her mom and be part of me unaccompanied. She was testing the boundaries of her coping expertise and taking a courageous step in the direction of a brand new degree of safety and developmentally acceptable autonomy. In direction of the very finish of our work collectively, Jasmin used the infant doll to position play the nurturing mom, whereas additionally addressing her emotions round friendships by way of parallel enactments of shared play within the playground/faculty yard.  

Jasmin now attends our classes and sometimes proclaims that she is the trainer, stating that “it’s now time for a music lesson!” She performs the devices, sings, dances, and performs with confidence. It has been such an unimaginable transformation! Firstly of this journey, Jasmin’s mom didn’t suppose it was attainable for her daughter to vary or dwell a traditional life. However with the proper atmosphere, belief within the course of, and utilizing play as a medium to convey us collectively, alongside clear communication and teamwork between the dad or mum and baby, such seemingly unattainable objectives turned achievable. 


Jasmin’s mom wished me to share some phrases about her expertise of play remedy:

“Play remedy merely took me out of the darkness into the sunshine. Firstly of the journey, I used to be not fully certain that I’d attain my purpose and that my solely daughter can be like the remainder of the kids. However I had religion in Allah that made me take the danger. In my first assembly, I noticed all the pieces that was mentioned like a dream that was tough to attain. The therapist instructed me that in a 12 months from now, Jasmin might be at school. I muttered to myself ‘only a dream. Allah, please assist me to attain it.’ My baby was recognized with extreme anxiousness.

The following day, the journey started with the therapist, Gemma. After I regarded into her eyes, my eyes crammed with tears. I waited for her to verify what the physician had mentioned; that the analysis was anxiousness and never one thing else. Gemma greeted me with a smile that gave me hope that my daughter can be cured of that anxiousness. Every single day whereas she was assuring me that we might arrive at that purpose, my endurance was examined.

On our every day journey for the entire 12 months, I noticed the sunshine coming from a small hole, and that hole began to widen extra, and I noticed that mild rising stronger. It was a problem attending to the classes day by day at 9 within the morning, on time and in the identical chair awaiting victory.

I believed in play remedy. I caught to it, as a toddler clings to her mom, and I held onto it with all my power. Gemma’s whispers of confidence by no means left me. Her help, clarification and understanding had been so necessary. Whereas she was treating my baby, she didn’t understand that she was doing so in a really culturally delicate and skilled method, embracing the mom and baby collectively.

Sure, there have been many challenges, with these many moments of Jasmin closing her eyes and crying when she noticed Gemma (therapist), ending along with her working in the direction of Gemma. Sure, it is play remedy however do not underestimate the phrase. It’s a brand new hope for each baby who’s struggling.

And now, after a 12 months, I’m wanting on the finish, precisely as they promised me. My baby is now coming into her first faculty 12 months. It’s an incredible therapy that isn’t primarily based on the usage of chemical medicines, particularly with such younger flowers.”   

*Names have been modified for anonymity  

File beneath:
The Artwork of Psychotherapy,
Youngster & Adolescent Remedy



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