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On their Turf: Play-based Group Counseling with Elementary School Boys

Presentation at ArCA Conference

Nick Cornett

on 8 January 2016

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Transcript of On their Turf: Play-based Group Counseling with Elementary School Boys

On their Turf:
Play-based Group Counseling with Elementary School Boys

"A therapeutic working relationship with children is best established through play, and the relationship is crucial to the activity we refer to as therapy" (Landreth, 2012, p. 12).
Play is intrinsically therapeutic for children.

Play is developmentally-appropriate for children.

Play is a powerful and dynamic medium for communication and connection for children.

Play maximizes the learning and growth of children.

"A major objective of using play therapy with children in an elementary school setting is to help children get ready to profit from the learning experiences offered " (Landreth, 2012, p. 35).
Why Play?
Navigating the Process of Play-Based Group Counseling
Ashby, J. S., Kottman, T., & DeGraaf, D. (2009).
Active interventions for kids and teens: Adding adventures and fun to counseling
. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.
Axline, V. M. (1969).
Play therapy.
New York, NY: Ballantine Books.
Baggerly, J. N., Ray, D. C., & Bratton, S. C. (Eds.).(2010).
Child-centered play therapy research: The evidence base for effective practice.
New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Blanco, P. J. (2010). Impact of school-based child-centered play therapy on academic achievement, self-concept, and teacher-child relationships. In J. Baggerly, D. C. Ray, & S. C. Bratton (Eds.),
Child-centered play therapy research: The evidence base for effective practice
(pp. 125-144). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Blanco, P. J., & Ray, D. C. (2011). Play therapy in elementary schools: A best practice for improving academic achievement.
Journal of Counseling & Development, 89
(2), 235-243.
Blanco, P. J., Ray, D. C., & Holliman, R. (2012). Long-term child centered play therapy and academic achievement of children: A follow-up study.
International Journal of Play Therapy, 21
(1), 1-13.
Duncan, B. L., Miller, S. D., Wampold, B. E., & Hubble, M. A. (Eds.) (2010).
The heart and soul of change: Delivering what works in therapy
(2nd ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Kaduson, H., & Schaefer, C. (Eds.). (1997).
101 favorite play therapy techniques
. Lanham, MD: Jason Aronson.
Jones, A. (1998).
104 activities that build
. Richland, WA: Rec Room Publishing.
Landreth. G. L. (2012).
Play therapy: The art of the relationship
(3rd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
Lowenstein, L. (1999).
Creative interventions for troubled children and youth
. Toronto, CA: Champion Press.
Ray, D. C. (2011).
Advanced play therapy
. New York, NY: Routledge.

Nick Cornett, PhD, LMFT, LPC, Registered Play Therapist
John Brown University Play Therapy Institute
Assistant Professor, Graduate Counseling

"Birds fly, fish swim, children play" - Garry Landreth
"Play is the concrete expression of the child and is the child's way of coping with her world" (Landreth, 2012, p. 10).
"Toys are used like words by children, and play is their language" (Landreth, 2012, p. 12).
"I am here."
"I hear you."
"I understand."
"I care."
(Landreth, 2012, pp. 209-210)
(see Duncan et al., 2010)
(see Baggerly, Ray, & Bratton, 2010; Blanco, 2010; Blanco & Ray, 2011; Blanco, Ray, & Holliman, 2012 ; Ray, 2011)
Axline's (1969) Principles of Play Therapy
The therapist...

(1) is genuinely interested in the child and develops a warm, caring relationship.

(2) experiences unqualified acceptance of the child and does not wish that the child were different in some way.

(3) creates a feeling of safety and permissiveness in the relationship, so the child feels free to explore and express herself completely.

(4) is always sensitive to the child's feelings and gently reflects those feelings in such a manner that the child develops self-understanding.

(5) believes deeply in the child's capacity to act responsibly, unwaveringly respects the child's ability to solve personal problems, and allows the child to do so.

(6) trusts the child's inner direction, allows the child to lead in all areas of the relationship, and resists the urge to direct the child's play or conversation.

(7) appreciates the gradual nature of the therapeutic process and does not attempt to hurry the process.

(8) establishes only those therapeutic limits necessary to anchor the session to reality and which help the child accept personal and appropriate relationship responsibility.

(Landreth, 2012, p. 80)
Guiding Framework
What is the nature of children?

What contributes to their problems?

How do they grow and change?
Selecting Activities
Facilitating Group Process
Evaluation and Reflection
What is going well that I can continue to do/do more of?

What is not working that lets me know I need to do something different?
Places to look:
Play therapy/expressive arts
101 Favorite Play Therapy Techniques
by Kaduson and Schaefer
Creative Interventions for Troubled Children and Youth
by Lowenstein
Active Interventions for Kids and Teens: Adding Adventures and Fun to Counseling
by Ashby, Kottman, and DeGraff
104 Activities that Build
by Jones
Your own creative imagination!
Remember: The activities themselves are not the primary mechanism of change! They are a medium for communication and connection!
Examples: Balloons, Minute to Win It, Make Your Own Stress Ball, Nuclear Waste
Essential Skills:
"I am here. I hear you. I understand. I care."
Tone of voice
Congruent expressions
Tracking behavior
"You're bouncing that up in the air.
"You're trying to work things out."
Reflecting content
"You did a lot with your family this weekend."
"You like being outside."
Reflecting feelings
"You're frustrated that you aren't doing as well as you'd like."
"You're enjoying this activity."
Reflecting meaning
"You want to be in charge. You like to be in control."
"When things get difficult, you want to give up."
Returning responsibility
"That's something you can do"
"In here, you can decide"
Facilitating decision-making
"You decided..."
"You have a plan..."
"You kept on trying, and you did it! "
"You're proud of how hard you tried. "
Therapeutic limit-setting
ACT Limit Setting (Landreth, 2012)
Acknowledge the feeling
: "I know you are frustrated with what he is doing...
Communicate the limit
: "...but people are not for yelling at..."
Target an alternative
: "You can choose to take some time by yourself when you are angry or you can choose to let me know."
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -- Maya Angelou
Other sources of evaluation:
Teacher report form
Direct observation
Discipline referrals
Full transcript