Working With Parents in Child-Centered Play Therapy: Applying the Discrimination Model to Caregiver Support

Working With Parents in Child-Centered Play Therapy: Applying the Discrimination Model to Caregiver Support

Kristy A. Brumfield (Immaculata University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4628-4.ch009
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Abstract

Oftentimes individuals providing counseling for child clients struggle with how to effectively incorporate parents in the process. This is particularly important in Child Centered Play Therapy when the parent or caregiver is not in the room for the intervention. In this chapter, the author addresses the current best practices for supporting parents/caregivers including cultural considerations and issues related to practice settings. Specific resources this clinician offers parents and interventions utilized in the consultation, counseling, and teaching process are reviewed. Finally, the chapter addresses strategies for supporting supervisees in the process of parent and caregiver consultation.
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Introduction

Parents are important; so important that play therapy innovator, Virginia Axline dedicated her two most read texts Dibs in Search of Self (1964) and Play Therapy (1974) to her own parents. Oftentimes individuals providing counseling for child clients struggle with how to effectively incorporate parents in the process (Cates et al., 2006; Haslam & Harris, 2011; Kottman & Meany-Walen, 2018; Lee & Ray, 2020, McGuire & McGuire, 2001). This is particularly important in child-centered play therapy when the parent is not in the room for the intervention. In this chapter the author will address the current best practices for parent/caregiver consultation including cultural considerations and issues related to practice settings. Additionally, the author will share strategies for supporting supervisees in the process of caregiver consultation and provide a list of specific resources and interventions utilized to support parents and caregivers.

According to the Association for Play Therapy (2020a) website, “Play Therapy is an effective mental health approach, regardless of age, gender, or the nature of the problem, and works best when a parent, family member, or caretaker is actively involved in the treatment process.” Working with parents and caretakers is often the cause of some anxiety for novice play therapists and occasionally it continues to be a concern for even the most seasoned clinicians. In child-centered play therapy, a central goal is the creation of “self” and an essential component of this self-creation is integration of both parental and cultural norms, values, and mores (Ray, 2011a). In this specific intervention neither work with parents nor counseling for parents are required (Axline, 1974; Kottman, 2011; Kottman & Meany-Walen, 2018; Landreth, 2012, Lee & Ray, 2020), however an overwhelming amount of literature, and the above cited definition recommends working with parents and indicate that working with parents improves outcomes (Axline, 1974; Bratton & Ray, 2000; Bratton et al., 2005; Brumfield & Christensen, 2011; Bornsheuer & Watts, 2012; Campbell et al., 2000; Cates et al., 2006; Kottman, 2011, Kottman & Ashby, 1999; Kottman & Meany-Walen, 2018; Leblanc & Ritchie, 2001, Lee & Ray, 2020; Lin & Bratton, 2015; McGuire & McGuire, 2001; Post et al., 2012; Ray, 2011a, Schottelkorb et al., 2015; Shaw & Magnuson, 2006; Stulmaker & Jayne, 2018; Sweeney & Landreth, 2011; Timberlake & Cutler, 2001, VanFleet, 2000; VanFleet et al., 2010). Further, it can be asserted that when parents are supportive of treatment, there is less resistance and increased compliance (VanFleet, 2000). Parents are frequently the deciding factor on even the logistics of a child continuing participation in play therapy since they often must provide transportation, and they are typically responsible for any fees associated with services. A parent who is not on board with the treatment is more likely to miss sessions or terminate contact prematurely (Bornsheuer & Watts, 2012; Campbell et al., 2000; Cates et al., 2006; Kottman, 2011).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Parent: Primary adult responsible for caretaking for the child or adolescent client. This term may refer to a biological, adoptive, or foster parent; a legal guardian; a grandparent or other family member; or any other person with whom the counselor, therapist, or clinician regularly consults regarding the child client’s treatment. Used interchangeably with “caregiver.”

Child-Centered Play Therapy: A nondirective approach to play therapy in which the counselor trusts the child to lead the process.

Caregiver: Primary adult responsible for caretaking for the child or adolescent client. This term may refer to a biological, adoptive, or foster parent; a legal guardian; a grandparent or other family member; or any other person with whom the counselor, therapist, or clinician regularly consults regarding the child client’s treatment. Used interchangeably with “parent.”

Play Therapy Caregiver Consultant (PTCC): The competent play therapist must include the caregiver in the play therapy process via consistent consultations. These consultations allow an alliance to form, offer support and parenting assistance to the parent, and ultimately help adjust the system, as needed to a more functional form.

Play Therapist: Person who is training in play therapy and practices working with children and their families. This person understands that children communicate through play and use toys to express themselves.

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