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Therapeutic Play Continuum - Principles

There are three basic principles behind the Therapeutic Play Continuum:
Children have a spectrum of needs requiring different levels of skill to enable their potential, solve emotional and behaviour problems and alleviate mental health difficulties. A child suffering the loss of a pet has different needs to one who bullies other children, to one who is homeless, to one who has been persistently sexually abused, to one who has severe personality problems, as examples. However although children (the clients) are the main beneficiaries of play and creative arts therapies they are not the only ones who benefit from the service. There are also the carers/parents, referrers, commisioners and funders. Each of these categories has different needs - some clinical, some not. Unless they are adequately taken care of the therapists will not get very far with the children.

To match the spectrum of needs there are a number of levels of overlapping applications of play to deal with the needs - see table below and also the diagram in the Therapeutic Play Continuum.

The Applications of Play Covered by the Therapeutic Play Continuum
  1. Play

  2. Play Work

  3. Therapeutic Play Work

  4. Therapeutic Play

  5. Filial Play

  6. Play Therapy

  7. Child Psychotherapy, Clinical Psychology, Psychiatry

In order to clearly distinguish between each of these applications there is a need for defining variables based upon the attributes of each application. These are factors that are common to most applications but where there is a different set of values for most of the factors for each. For example the type of security needed for pure play is different to that required for play therapy. Parents encouraging their children to play do not require clinical supervision. Someone using therapeutic play skills as an adjunct to their main job as a Teacher requires a different level of supervision to that of a Play Therapist.

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