I know a little boy who just recently started receiving help through Theraplay. I had heard about it before but never knew too much about it. His mom and I talk about it alot and she has been very helpful to me in understanding what it is. However, I was still a little unclear in my understanding of this modality of instruction. She sent me this link to find out more information. I hate to admit it but she sent me the link a month ago. I have looked at the site numerous times since then and I am just now starting to grasp the theory behind Theraplay.
I found this article by Janet Mullen to be very helpful in helping me gain more understanding. One specific quote from the article was particularly interesting...
"...simplicity is necessary so that the child does not focus on learning a complex new game -- it is not about cognitive learning. Rather, the simplicity allows the full impact of the process to be felt by the child. Theraplay activities aim at creating a feeling of closeness between the child and parent, which is attained through activities in which the child experiences the adult as creating the structure (the rules, etc.) and also nurturing the child. The goal of therapy is that the child be more at ease with adults and other children, have less of a need to stay in charge, and be more spontaneously able to experience and express her feelings."
Another article, How Theraplay® Differs from Non-Directive,or Child-Centered, Play Therapy, really made the concept more concrete in my mind. Being able to read about how Theraplay differs from other therapies was incredibly helpful. It states that theraplay is at a pre-verbal and pre-symbolic level. I found this very interesting. Instead of focusing on the child communicating needs or the child understanding the therapist, it focuses on creating an environment which encourages the child "to engage more actively with the world around him or respond more appropriately to structured situations." This type of approach must be such a blessing to those children who have had unsuccessful experiences with more traditional forms of therapy.
I am happy that I now have a greater understanding of Theraplay. There is still so much more to learn but I am happy that I had the time today to sit down and sort out all the information in my own brain. I know that when the day comes that I return to teaching, I will be cognisant of this modality of instruction because I know that there are a lot of kids who could benefit from the nurturing environment found within this type of program.