Play Therapy Today

Play Therapy Today

Contemporary practice with individuals, groups and carers

Edited by Eileen Prendiville and Justine Howard

Published by Routledge UK 2014 ISBN 978 0 415 85506 8

Reviewed by Ursula Somerville MIAHIP, MIJSTA

Play Therapy Today is a book which does exactly

“what it says on the tin”

there are 11 chapters written by practitioners and academics of Play and Play Therapy in an easy to read book which incorporates many methods of play therapy being used today. It is written in plain English and I really like the chapters which are written from the first person point of view.  In particular I was struck by the first chapter on The Therapeutic Touchstone as written by one of the editors Eileen Prendiville.  How wonderfully Eileen sets about using Rogers theory which includes congruence in meeting the client.  Here she sets out how she informs the child client what she already knows about her/him and how she found out also as a way of “building trust” which is so often damaged.  This really breaks down any questions for the child of how much does she know and how did she find out. She explains how she does this by means of creating a story of the child’s life so far using information gathered at the intake session.  This story is delivered using toys and play which, of course, is the language of the child and is directed to be age appropriate. This chapter really sets the tone of the book as the reader is guided through the many different and diverse ways of working therapeutically with vulnerable clients with the use of play.

Another chapter which I found most useful in my work was the one by Theresa Fraser “How Neuroscience can inform play therapy practice with parents and carers” Theresa explores the already much talked about effect of life in utero as having “lifelong consequences” (p 179) and the impact on the developing brain.  She speaks of the developmental difficulties when trauma is part of the client’s story. With the preciseness of Theresa’s understanding explained in this chapter I feel this book will be useful for adult psychotherapists also as they meet their clients with long held trauma effects which may have started at early stages in the client’s life, including life in the womb and at conception.

Each segment of the book finishes with “Key Points” which I believe will give the reader a good sense of what is covered within the pages at a glance. This also makes it very accessible to both professionals and parents/carers when they want an understanding of a particular model of practice being used for their child. The wealth of experience throughout the book is refreshing and most insightful. 

Another aspect of this book I particularly like is that the references,  which range from 1890 to 2014, used are tried and tested and then are current and therefore would be most useful to trainees studying psychotherapy in general and in particular to give an understanding of developmental work.

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it and I read it in almost one sitting!

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