Let’s Play! Counselling Professionals’ Perspectives of Using Play Interventions in Clinical Practices
Counselling professionals often incorporate play interventions when providing therapeutic support to children experiencing adverse circumstances (e.g., family crisis, illness, living in poverty, foster care etc.). It has been suggested that play enhances emotional (i.e. recognizing feelings of sadness, happiness, etc.) and cognitive development (i.e., improving memory, abstract thinking, self-awareness) (Hong & Mason, 2016; Vygotsky, 1973). Play has been found to have a positive effect on improving children’s self-regulation in therapeutic settings (Kenney & Young, 2015; Marcelo & Yates, 2014; Pearson et al., 2007). Teaching children strategies of how to function under hardship can help them become more resilient individuals (Slingman, 1999). Currently there is limited information available that highlights specific skills and strategies counselling professionals are using in play-based interventions to foster improvement and help children learn positive adaption (Baggerly & Parker, 2005; Marcelo & Yates, 2014; Pattison, 2006; Shaefer & Drewes, 2012). This study sought to better understand counselling professionals’ perspectives, specific techniques, and strategies used in play-based interventions. Data was collected through interviews with four counselling psychologists, and analyzed inductively to identify three themes across the data set (Braun & Clarke, 2006; Merriam, 2009): (1) Learn The Steps: Teaching The Prerequisites of Self-Regulation; (2) Build Your Skills: Enhancing Self-Awareness and Resiliency Through Play; and (3) Change Takes Time: Trusting the Play Process. These findings highlighted how meaningful play can help children build self-awareness skills, which can lead to positive adaption. These initial findings can be used as a starting point to assist helping professionals, such as counsellors, to better support their child clients using play.
Resilience, play, self-regulation, self-awareness, counselling professionals
Master of Education (M.Ed.)
Educational Psychology and Special Education
School and Counselling Psychology