Anatomy of a Play Theme: Helping Supervisees Work With Themes in Play Therapy

Anatomy of a Play Theme: Helping Supervisees Work With Themes in Play Therapy

Ryan P. Holliman (Tarleton State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4628-4.ch010
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Working with themes in play therapy is not only a difficult skill to master, but it is often discussed in very vague and abstract terms. This chapter outlines some practical ways of thinking about and working with themes in play therapy. The chapter focuses on three domains of play themes: current systems of organizing themes, a new way of working with themes that includes identification and implementation in sessions and parent consultations, and how to examine potential biases in theme work. The focus on this chapter is to provide supervisees and supervisors practical, concrete methods of working with themes to help improve their clinical work. The chapter also provides pertinent cases to help illustrate basic concepts in theme work.
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Review Of Proposed Models For Play Themes

Many of the authors have proposed new frameworks for themes in play therapy (Benedict, 2004; Hillmann, 2014; Levin, 1992; Ray, 2004; Ryan & Edge, 2012). I believe it is neither necessary nor even possible to establish a definitive canon of play therapy themes. However, the aforementioned authors contributed important conceptual work that forms the current understanding of themes in play therapy. The three models to be discussed will include: Non-Directive Play Therapy, Child-Centered Play Therapy (CCPT), and the Benedict Play Theme Analysis System. Supervisors need an understanding of these different theme systems to help their supervisees. With this knowledge, supervisors will be prepared to notice themes in their intern’s work and educate them about different approaches to themes.

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