Post University Play Therapy

DQ#1 Josseline R

RE: Groups with Children

Children are the least understood and most difficult to work with for most counselors since they do not communicate how most adults do (Berg, Fall, and Landreth, 2013). Children can be disruptive and even ignore what the facilitator has to offer, but they can also be the most alive, sensitively caring, and rewarding group (Berg et al., 2013). A rule of thumb to follow is the younger the children the shorter the session due to their attention span, therefore preschool and primary-grade children can do 30-45 minute sessions with some groups meeting twice a week (Berg et al., 2013). Additionally, if the children are younger, then smaller groups would be more beneficial; groups of 5-6 children are recommended up to age 9 (Berg et al., 2013).

A group therapy session that would be appropriate for children is group play therapy of 5 children ranging from ages 6-9 years old. The group therapy sessions for this group would be about 40 minutes. The group therapy would be held in a playroom that is designated for play therapy (Berg et al., 2013). The room will be big enough for the children to play in and also have privacy (Berg et al., 2013). The initial session would be reviewing the rules for group interactions and allowing the group to add additional rules so they can feel comfortable with participation. Group play therapy works for children under age 9 because of the developmental implications of reasoning and thinking that are not developed until the age of 10 or 11 (Berg et al., 2013). For children, play is their voice and the counselor can discover a lot of things through play (Berg et al., 2013).

For play therapy, it is recommended to select toys and material that facilitate the goals of the establishment of a positive relationship with a child; expression of a wide range of feelings; exploration of real-life experiences; testing of limits; development of a positive image; development of a self-understanding; and opportunity to redirect behaviors unacceptable to others (Berg et al., 2013). Toys that meet these goals could real-life toys (dolls, play dishes, airplane), aggressive-release toys (dart gun, toy soldiers, rubber knife), and toys for creative expression and emotional release (crayons, Play-Doh, hand puppets) (Berg et al., 2013).

References

Berg, R. C., Fall, K. A., & Landreth, G. L. (2013). Group Counseling : Concepts and Procedures: Vol. 5th ed. Routledge.

Lekeitha S.

RE: Groups with Children

Children have a natural ability to express themselves and resolve conflict through play; groups targeted at young children will incorporate various forms of the game into the session (Espejo, 2020). This may include spontaneous play or structured play activities such as role-playing, drawing, or board games (Espejo, 2020). Pre-adolescents and adolescents can express their emotions verbally and develop an interest in peer feedback and support. Group therapy targeting this age group will likely combine talk therapy and structured activities (Espejo, 2020).

Research indicates that group therapy is very effective for children. Mainly it shows that adolescents benefit significantly from group therapy (Espejo, 2020). There are many reasons why this is the case. Children in middle school and early high school have attained an excellent cognitive grasp of what emotions are and can distinguish subtle differences in feelings (Espejo, 2020). However, they also acquire the ability to think abstractly and think about their thought processes, which often leads to conflicting emotions; thus, feelings can be overwhelming for adolescents (Espejo, 2020).

Through group therapy, adolescents can communicate to normalize these feelings and experiences (Espejo, 2020). Adolescents can learn about themselves, the impact their behavior has on others and receive feedback from peers. It is developmentally appropriate for adolescents to prefer feedback from peers at this age than adults, which is why adolescents are often more open to this treatment modality (Espejo, 2020).

Berg, Fall, and Landreth (2013) discuss that the younger the children’s second rule of thumb, the more physical activities

should happen in the group therapy and the smaller the group should be. Group therapy is effective for young children. Children this age have a limited understanding of emotions and can often be very labile and reactive (Espejo, 2020). Guided interactions with peers can increase emotional intelligence and develop social skills that are critical developmental goals for this age group (Espejo, 2020).

References:

Berg, R., Landreth, G. L., & Fall, K. A. (2013). Group counseling: Concepts and procedures. New York: Routledge.

Espejo, K. (2020). The benefit of numbers: Group therapy for children and adolescents. Child and Family Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.childandfamilymentalhealth.com/the-benefit-of-numbers-group-therapy-for-children-and-adolescents/

DQ#2 Darren E

RE: Challenges

Hello class and Professor

These questions are sensitive to the writer and has him thinking hard about his response. Since the writer haven’t dealt

with children on a consistant basis, ever since his daughters were kids and now they are both in their mid 30s with their own

families. This type of practice will be very difficult for the writer to imagine this being the population he would think about working

with. The challenges that the writer will have is being able to have the patience it takes to work with children, especially because

their functioning level and comprehension level can be very challenging to work with. Unlike adults, children need to be understood

in a different way than most adults. Children who has suffered traumatic events are freshly scarred, which make them harder to work

with because of their trust level with unknown people. Not being able to effectively communicate with children due to the lack of

trust which make it harder to get the children to open up and participate in group or one on one therapy. Not being able to know what

the children need during the treatment process, because not knowing how to get them to open up would be one of the challenges that

the writer will be faced with. This is the main reason why the writer would not chose to work with children.

According to Berg, Landreth, & Fall, (2013) states that children are probably the least understood and the most difficult to work

with for most counselors. Adults and children communication ways are not recognized and understood. They seldom know how to

follow of courtesy and respect in group and are not inclined to be turned on insight-inducing self-exploration as most adults. They can

be blatantly disruptive and can ignore the best treatment plan the counselor will use. On the other hand children can become over

energized, very active, can not stay focused, and want to always participate in different playful things to ignore the issues that are

going on in their lives (Berg, Landreth, & Fall, 2013). This can make it quite difficult to hold back and not react as a group leader

to disruptive behaviors in group, this is something the writer does not have to worry about with adult groups. If an adult act out, at

worse the writer can remove them from the group. With children the writer will have a more challenging proceedure to remove a child

from group, that’s if the writer possibly can remove them at all. For example, if a child is being sexually abused at home and acting out

in the group, and not communicating with the counselor out of fear, then it can be very difficult to get that type of information to help

that child.

According to Landreth, (2012) states that play is the child’s symbolic language of self-expression and can reveal what the child

has gone through, reactions to what they have gone through, feelings about what they have gone through, what the child wishes,

wants, and needs, and the way they look at themselves. The counselor should gather a variety of toys to use in the group therapy and

can facilitate a wide range of feeling-oriented expressions by children. Thus, children are not restricted to discussing what happened;

rather, they live out at the moment of the play the past experiences and associated feelings. According to Hansen, (2016) states that

group intervention has the power to provide grounding experiences when children have not been provided with solid, stable

attachment figures early in life. Bowlby (1982) espoused that early attachment relationships set the stage for a child to develop mentally

capacities by means of a behavioral control system. In this process, the children seeks proximity to the attachment figure to help start

their emotional reactivity, particularity during time of stress and fear. It can become difficult to understand how to get children to

trust and open up to people if they have gone through some type of trauma. Being able to establish the correct activities for children

that will not open up can be very challenging and become unsuccessful during treatment.

According to AAC&AP, (2019) states that psychotherapy is a form of psychiatric treatment that involves therapeutic

conversations and interactions between a therapist and a child or family. It can help children and families to understand and resolve

problems, modify behavior, and make positive changes in their lives. The different type of psychotherapy that a counselor can use are:

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) helps a child to understand and accept their inner emotions.ACT therapists help children

and teens use their deeper understanding of their emotional struggles to commit to moving forward in a positive way. Cognitive

Behavior Therapy (CBT) helps improve a child’s moods, anxiety, and behavior by examining confused or distorted patterns of thinking.

CBT therapists teach children that thoughts cause feelings and moods which can influence behavior. Dialectical Behavior Therapy

(DBT) can be used to treat older adolescents who have chronic suicidal thoughts/feelings, engage in intentionally self-harmful

behaviors, or have Borderline Personality Disorders. Group Therapy is a form of psychotherapy where there are multiple patients

lead by one or more therapists to help resolve issues that the group members are dealing with.

Reference:

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF CHILD & ADOLESCENTS PSYCHIATRY, (2019). (2019). Psychotherapy for children and adolescents:

Different Types. https://www.ascap.org

Berg, R.,Landreth, G.L.,& Fall, K.A.(2013).Group counseling:concepts and procedures. New York: Routledge

Hansen, S. (2016). Kids together: A group therapy program for children using cognitive-behavioral play therapy interventions.

In A.A. Drewes, C.E. Schaefer,A.A. Drewes, C.E. Schaefer (Eds.). paly therapy in middle childhood (pp. 153-169). Washington,

DC, US: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/14776-009

Isabela R

RE: Challenges


Dr. Nichols and class,

According to Berg, Fall, & Landreth (2013), the role of the counselor is characterized as permissive and non-intervening—it can be described as “neutral” in describing the role of the counselor in activity group therapy. A potential challenge this writer would face would be deciding which type of play therapy to use with different age groups. For example, counselors can take a more direct and structured CBT and psychoeducative approach of play or use a more child-led play to the psychoanalytic approach. Choosing methods will be specific to personal preferences, training/supervision received and of course by the child’s age, level of development, preferences, and presenting issues (Short, 2017). This writer would respond to this challenge by taking into consideration the last factors addressed—children’s age levels, development, preferences and presenting issues. By addressing these factors, this writer will have a greater sense of what form of play therapy to use with each specific group.

Another potential challenge this writer will most likely face is interaction between parents and the expectations placed on the child. Parent’s knowledge of their child, presenting problems, and relevant history/context is critical to head before seeing the child (Short, 2017). However, it can become challenging to hold the hopes, fears, and expectations of parents in mind when first meeting the child and at the same time be genuinely present to the child keeping everyone else separate. Counselors must always hear parents and other significant adult concerns about the child, but also be able to separate this and hear the child as well.

This writer has experience working with autistic children in the public school system and she feels pretty comfortable addressing issues/concerns with parents/guardians. However, this was a different field, and she would work with the children based on their IEP needs. When it comes to other mental health concerns, she was not the one developing goals or treatment plans. Therefore, this writer still feels like she needs to learn more about this population and how to effectively treat them in order to become competent and proficient. In the future, this writer plans to specialize working with children, therefore it is very important that she continues to gain experience and focus her attention on this specific population.

References

Berg, R. C., Fall, K. A., & Landreth, G. L. (2013). Group Counseling : Concepts and Procedures: Vol. 5th ed. Routledge.

Short, J. (2017). Top seven challenges in counseling children. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/top-seven-challenges-counselling-children-jacki-short

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