The greatest thing in style
is to have a command of metaphor.
-Aristotle, 4th Century BC
Play therapy differs from art therapy in that acting, drama, role playing, and metaphor are much more involved. In Lynne’s office she has two huge wicker trunks. One is filled with plush animals, a lot of puppets, and an array of dolls. The other is filled with toy emergency vehicles, doctor kits, appropriate toy weapons, airplanes, and much, much more...like all fun and meaningful play trunks should be. She also has a big dollhouse with all the furnishings and several families of all races. Limits are non-existent and possibility abounds.
These actions allow patients to redo or re-live the traumatic event in a safe environment. The patient can then cope with the anxiety, flashbacks, and any other symptoms. This is clinically referred to as having mastery and developing resilience over a traumatic event.
Children that have been abused or who have witnessed domestic violence can use puppet shows where there are victims, perpetrators and police puppets, all of whose “characters” get involved to create the outcome that the child wants. This is an important experience because children leave the sessions with a sense of empowerment and mastery. Lynne also finds that in these puppet shows she gets important information about what is going on within the inner-life of a child, similar to dollhouse play. These discoveries point to areas of needed work and are important in parent guidance sessions. In family sessions, Lynne often teaches parents how to play with their children. Play is fun, but also the work of healing.
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