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The Healing Power of Play - Page 10


His willingness to be "a complete fool" for Bobby is a good idea, not just for children, but for the parents, too. Whenever preadolescent children are part of a family session in my practice, at least 15 to 20 minutes of the time is spent playing as a family. This helps offset the worst (and most accurate) criticism a child might make of therapy: that it's "boring." At the same time, I don't feel the parents or I must entertain the children all the time, or that treatment must always be fun.

Anyway, Bobby gets better rather quickly, and at 10 sessions, the frequency of the treatment is tapered off. I remember a long time ago someone smart telling me that "people get into trouble when they make a big deal of a little thing or don't pay attention to a big deal." I think most of us would agree that falling into a well when you're 2 is a rather big deal and requires some attention. However, I'm not really sure that Bobby might not have gotten better with a session for the parents and the first visit as described by Crenshaw. Providing less in-session directed play and giving the family a bit more time between visits might have worked just as well.

There's a lot of healing that goes on in families when the parents can be reassured and given some simple strategies of engagement and limits with children this young. I know there's an inherent belief about the vulnerability of children that runs strongly through the play therapy literature. The trick is finding the balance between supporting the child and family through play and advising the parents, while not making the trauma the central event defining the rest of the kid's life. In this case, although Crenshaw seems to do everything right, I'm just not sure all of what he did was necessary.

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