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Adlerian Play Therapy

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Kiersten Prochnow

on 27 October 2014

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Transcript of Adlerian Play Therapy

Adlerian Play

Fall 2014
Kiersten Prochnow

Why Play?
Play provides a developmentally responsive means for
expressing thoughts and feelings, exploring relationships, making
sense of experiences, disclosing wishes, and developing coping
“If we focus on the child then the problem will take care of itself.”
Play Therapy in Schools
Play Therapy has a history of over 6 decades of use in elementary schools
Since 2000, the number of publications regarding play therapy’s efficacy in schools has doubled
The majority of school-based play therapy research focused on the effects of child-centered play therapy (CCPT) for children referred by teachers or parents because of problem behaviors at school
An approach to communicating therapeutically with clients using toys, art materials, games, and other play media,
giving clients a safe and nurturing relationship
in which they can explore and express feelings,
gain insight
into their own motivation and into their interaction with others, and
learn and practice

socially appropriate behaviors
(Kottman, 2003)
Terry Kottman's Definition
(Meany-Walen, 2012)
(Landreth, 2002)
(Landreth, 2002)
Adlerian Play Therapy
counseling intervention

individual psychology
integrates nondirective and directive play techniques
Adlerian Personality Theory
Help children...
catch themselves at self-defeating behaviors
gain insight into their purposes
develop alternative methods of coping with life
open communication
active interactions
family constellation
early recollections
goal disclosure
tentative hypothesis
(Kottman et al., 1989)
• used to help build a relationship in which the child’s efforts at self-understanding and self-reliance are acknowledged and enhanced
Encouragement & Open Communication
Asking Questions & Actively Interacting
Act by the child's invitation
Act by your own instigation
1. State the limit

2. Reflect feeling & acknowledge desire

3. Encourage child to generate alternative behaviors

4. Encourage child to generate logical consequences
Phases of AdPT
Phase 1:
Democratic Relationship
(Kottman, 1989, 2003)
reflecting content
reflecting feeling
enhanced by attitude and wording when setting limits
Phase 2:
Explore the Life Style
family amosphere
family constellation
early recollections
shift from non-directive to more active and directive style
Phase 3:
goal disclosure
sharing of inferences
pointing out parallels
confront mistaken beliefs and goals using tentative hypothesese
Goals of AdPT
enhance social interest
overcome and reduce feelings of inferiority
make changes:
in life goals
and mistaken beliefs about self, others, and the world

Institute change in the family system
Phase 4:
generate alternatives
inclusion of parents in play therapy
teach and encourage child and caregivers to make changes in attitudes, thoughts, and beliefs in order to solidify gains made in therapy
Play therapy provides children a
means of expression that also
crosses language and cultural barriers
(Meany-Walen, 2012)
"Effects of AdPT on Reducing Students' Disruptive Behaviors"
(Meany-Walen, 2012)
Research Study
AdPT is especially appropriate for children who:
have an increased need for power and control
have experienced a traumatic event
have a poor self-concept
are discouraged
or have poor cooperation skills
and/or weak social skills
Kottman, 2003
1 out of 5 children
experience distressing emotional problems
and less than one-third of those children
receive the help they need
(Mental Health America, 2009, cited in Meany-Walen, 2014)
The most common reason for student referral is disruptive classroom behavior
can lead to the development of serious problems across child's lifespan
(Abidin & Robinson, 2002, cited in Meany-Walen, 2014)
58 K-3 participants qualified and completed study
experimental + "active" control group w/ teachers blinded to group assignment
30-minute sessions, twice a week, for an average of 16 sessions
teachers reported a statistically significant decrease in stress in the teacher–child relationship from pretest to posttest
AdPT demonstrated a large treatment effect on students’ disruptive classroom behaviors
teachers whose students participated in AdPT reported a 9-point mean reduction in stress, whereas teachers whose students were in the active control group reported a mean increase in stress of over 8 points
As the children who received AdPT experienced a sense of power and control and were given encouragement and support from their counselor, they no longer felt the need to act out in the classroom to get their needs met
Cultural Implications
67% of participants in the study representing low-income, racial/ethnic minority populations, so AdPT offers hope as a culturally responsive counseling intervention for underserved populations of children
Sandtrays & Early Recollection
Early Recollections
a past memory that reflects current view of self, others, and the world
influence the developing life style
express inner worlds through symbol and metaphor
promotes insight and awareness through experiential processing
Phases of Sandtray Play
Scene Creation
"Make a scene in the sand of something you remember..."
Provide ample time for the child to create the scene without interruption
if asked for help, therapist can stay with the flow of play by using minimal tracking, reflection of thought/feeling/activity, or returning responsibility
Label only what the child has
“If you’d like, show me how your figures were feeling in your memory scene.”
Create the Scene
Process the Scene
"Tell me about your memory in the sand."
metaphor creates a safe distance
facilitate the experiencing of feelings and stay present
Goal of Processing
the therapist and child collaborate in investigating the lifestyle, gaining insight into the child's private logic, and reorienting through encouragement toward more functional and adaptive thought and behavior patterns
(Even, 2011)
process emotional experience contained metaphorically in memory
Child may display figures that suggest conflicting wants, needs, and behaviors
The memory is often a polarity itself
• if processing each part of polarity, “Which part feels stronger or most like you right now?”
• focus on the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors with respect to each part

the child receives empathy, learns to accept all feelings, experiences; and thoughts, and releases creativity for constructing alternative life style scripts
Through Sandtray Play...
“Tell me what that’s like for you right now.”

“Tell me what you feel when you talk about that figure.”

Create a title!
Four Goals of Misbehavior


Display of inadequacy
All behavior reveals attempts to gain significance in relationships
Children misbehave from a sense of discouragement
(Snow, 1999)
Even, T. A., & Armstrong, S. A. (2011). Sandtray for Early Recollections with Children in Adlerian Play Therapy. Journal Of Individual Psychology, 67(4), 391-407.
Kottman, T. (2003). Partners in play (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.
Kottman, T. T., & Warlick, J. (1989). Adlerian Play Therapy: Practical Considerations. Individual Psychology: The Journal Of Adlerian Theory, Research & Practice, 45(4), 433.
Landreth, G. L. (2002). Play therapy: The art of the relationship (3rd ed.). New York: Brunner-Routledge.
Meany-Walen, K. K., Bratton, S. C., & Kottman, T. (2012). Effects of Adlerian Play Therapy on Reducing Students' Disruptive Behaviors. Journal Of Counseling & Development, 92(1), 47-56. doi:10.1002/j.1556-6676.2014.00129.x
Snow, M. S., Buckley, M. R., & Williams, S. C. (1999). Case Study Using Adlerian Play Therapy. Journal Of Individual Psychology, 55(3), 328.

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