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Child-Centered Group Play Therapy

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Charaya Upton

on 22 May 2015

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Transcript of Child-Centered Group Play Therapy

Child-Centered Theory
Child-Centered Group Play Therapy
Therapeutic Limit Setting
Group Structure and Logistics
Rationale For Utilizing Group Play Therapy
(Case Example in book)
When setting limits in a play group, you want to do it when needed, and not in the beginning. If you set the limits in the beginning it is just going to increase the desire to break them.
Setting limits is essential to the therapeutic processes in that it helps provide an element of structure and consistency. You will want to avoid setting too many limits in that children still need the freedom to learn on grow at their own pace.
Also, when setting limits it needs to be specific, total, and enforceable in order to prevent confusion or power struggles.
Typically setting limits are similar to the rules of confidentiality in they they need to be set for the following reasons listed in the book:
Basically, the structure of a group play session is dependent upon the children as they get to lead the direction for which the session goes. The changes that occur within the group are contingent on the relationships within the group members.
"Group play therapy can give children the kinds of experiences that help them learn to function effectively, to explore their behavior, to develop tolerance to stress and anxiety, and to find satisfaction in working and living with others" (G. Landreth, 2001).
Chapter 12
By Charaya Upton
Child-Centered Play Therapy
Diagnosis and Treatment Planning
Thank You!
Landreth, G. L. (2001). Innovations in play therapy: Issues, process, and special populations. New York, NY, US: Brunner-Routledge.
The Organism
Phenomenal Field
This approach is meant for the therapist to really 'be with the child' and let them lead.
It allows the child to create a world of their own that the therapist is invited into as compared to the therapist taking lead.
The child is the organism. The way the child is physically, mentally (in thoughts and feelings), and with their behaviors are all components that are a part of a very complex system for which the child lives.
Recognizing this helps therapists better understand that the child is "existing" as the book puts it in an always changing world.
How the child interacts with the world and perceives themselves is a constant growing way of self actualizing and learning about the positive ways to function and grow.
This is basically how the child views the world.
It covers internal and external factors as to how the child feels, behaves, thinks, and all his experiences.
This is important for therapist to look at because it is often the case that the child will behave based on his own reality; even if it's not the same reality others see.
For the child-centered approach it is very important to enter their world to better grasp how they see things.
This part of the construct is basically how the child views him or herself through the evaluation of their interactions with others.
This sense of self starts as early as infants in how they are perceived in negative and positive ways, thus shaping their self image.
"Child-centered group play therapy combines the distinct advantages of child-centered play therapy with the recognized benifits of group process." (G. Landreth, 2001)
This type of play therapy is where the main focus is not on the presenting problem, but rather it's all about the child and who they are on the inside.
By focusing on the play rather than the presenting problem and diagnosis it makes it possible for the therapist to really focus on the child and not get caught up in other things.
With this style of therapy the therapist is able to better understand the child from their inner world views which ultimately leads to a trusting relationship and more positive therapeutic success.
The child is able to lead the sessions bringing them to the present feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.
For child-centered play therapy the focus is not on the diagnosis or treatment planning.
For billing purposes, it may be necessary, but when working with the child it is important not to make it the central topic as it may potentially be damaging towards the child.
Therapist are able to create a therapeutic environment without ever bringing up the presenting issue.
In a group setting the therapist should be able to recognize any incongruent behaviors between the child's self thoughts and behaviors.
The treatment plan style for this type of therapy is more of a continuously growing and changing plan for which the child leads towards better self understanding of others and their actions. The goals would be ultimately to help the child find their ways to self actualization and independence.
Harmful/dangerous behavior
Disruptive behavior towards the process
Destruction of Materials
Taking toys from playroom
Socially unacceptable behaviors
Inappropriate displays of behaviors
Reasons from the book to use this type of therapy:

Less threatening
More children= greater desire for a relationship with therapist
Less tension and more activity and participation
More spontaneity
Children can be givers as well as receiving help
Lets children see better the permissiveness of the setting
Children have to see how to re-evaluate their behaviors due to how their peers react to them
More opportunity to experiment and discover different ways of relating with peers
Having more children in the room creates a world like reality
Opportunity for vicariousness and direct learning
Therapist can let the child know how the child might be looked at in the real world
Group Selection and Size
Group Playroom and Materials
Length, Frequency, and Duration of Sessions
Group selection is very important in that you don't want too many or too few. Younger kids have fewer group members, maybe 2 or 3. You want the right mixes, ages, and you want to look at their developmental levels for the group with initial session screening.
You have to be sure the types of problems the children have won't be disruptive to the process. For example, if the child has accelerated sexual drives, or steal a lot would most likely need more individual therapy as they are more likely to disrupt the flow of a group.
Gender isn't much of an issue until they are 9 years or older at which you might not want to mix the two.
Group Play
The size of the room matters
If it's too small it could cause frustration
If it's too big it could prevent the interaction with others and building the relationships needed
allow for creative and emotional expression
are engaging
allow for expressive and exploratory play
let them talk without words
let them succeed without structure
Don't require commitment.
The materials needed are the same of those listed in the other book:
Play Therapy Basics and Beyond by Kottman, T 2nd edition 2011
Typically the length of the session is decided based on the age of the group members
Younger children have shorter attention spans so a shorter time frame of about 30-45 minutes would be considered
The circumstances that bring the child in for therapy can also determine the amount of times for meetings
A week for a child is very different compared to a week for an adult, so that will need to be a consideration as well
Some of these groups would do well to meet more than once a week, but is flexible.
It allows the child to live in a smaller world in which they can see how their peers react, see how the therapist interacts without judgment, and learn that others are struggling too.
Using a group to conduct a child-centered play therapy approach has shown to be very beneficial.
Takes the pressure of the presenting issue and allows freedom for the child to grow on their terms and at their pace.
Basically you want toys that:
Empirical Evidence
There is evidence in two different sections of the book where child-centered play therapy and child-centered group play therapy showed to have positive results in short term (12 sessions in 2 weeks) therapy was effective for children who witnessed domestic violence and were living in women's shelters.

It reported that in this study that the treatment group showed a great increase in actualizing, self-concept and internalizing behavior problems while having a decrease in aggression, depression, and anxieties.
Some strengths of this research support that if the presenting problem is more intense, more intense sessions could be very beneficial. On the downside of this, it may be more challenging for those living in shelters or other unstable circumstances to be able to come in for the amount of time needed. They may struggle with transportation issues or other personal issues. The study supports a consistency for these groups for the positive results.
This helps provide the time to build rapport, process, and time to prepare for termination
Typically there are intensive short term groups that range from 10-12 sessions depending on the children.
For example, a traumatized child may need to be seen several times through out the week compared to a child with a less intense issue.
Theoretical Positions
Some problems may require more intense care such as with trauma or abuse while others may be more beneficial to stretch the sessions out over a longer amount of time.
Theoretically, each session length should vary depending on the presenting problems and location.
There would be more research on the different types of specific problems verses the the length of the therapy sessions to really determine whether more sessions or less sessions are appropriate for the different presenting problems.
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