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Mary Spickelmier, LSCSW


Play therapy treatment plans have been utilized as the primary intervention or as an adjunctive therapy for multiple Mental Health Conditions and Concerns (Gil & Drewes, 2004; Landreth, Sweeney, Ray, Homeyer, & Glover, 2005), e.g. anger management, grief and loss, divorce and family dissolution, and crisis and trauma, and for modification of Behavioral Disorders (Landreth, 2002), e.g. anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), autism or pervasive developmental, academic and social developmental, physical and learning disabilities, and conduct disorders (Bratton, Ray, & Rhine, 2005).

Research supports the effectiveness of play therapy with children experiencing a wide variety of social, emotional, behavioral, and learning problems, including: children whose problems are related to life stressors, such as divorce, death, relocation, hospitalization, chronic illness, assimilate stressful experiences, physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and natural disasters (Reddy, Files-Hall, & Schaefer, 2005). Play therapy helps children:

○  Become more responsible for behaviors and develop more successful strategies.

○  Develop new and creative solutions to problems.

○  Develop respect and acceptance of self and others.

○  Learn to experience and express emotion.

○  Cultivate empathy and respect for thoughts and feelings of others.

○  Learn new social skills and relational skills with family.

○  Develop self-efficacy and thus a better assuredness about their abilities.