The Play Therapist as a child’s “confident companion” into “the scary places of self-discovery”

When a problem is on the surface, talking, explaining and teaching the behaviour is often the best approach.  At other times, something deep inside the child’s interior life is the difficulty.

When this is the case, children may avoid facing thoughts and feelings if they have to do it by themselves.  Carl Rogers (1980) noted that our interior life can be bizarre and so it is for children too.  Like adults, it is sometimes necessary to go into scary places in the interior world before new, self-informed choices can be made.

In Child Centred Play Therapy, a deep connection develops between child and therapist.  The therapist becomes the child’s “confident companion” into the “internal world of the bizarre”.  The deep empathy that is present in the therapeutic relationship allows the child to feel safe.  The child becomes able to venture into previously scary territory in his/her interior life – places that would be previously avoided because they are too scary to face by themselves.

(from “Child Centred Play Therapy” by Cochran, Nordling & Cochran, 2010: see here).

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