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The Healing Power of Play - Page 8

The rest of the family and the other dogs began romping again in the clear water again. For the next two sessions, the play within the water continued, and in the following session, the eighth, Bobby put the dog back in the water and he began to play with the others.

We had one more water-play session, and then, in the tenth session, Bobby began to explore the room and became interested in the other toys for the first time. The compelling need to rework the trauma event was behind him. He played with the fire truck, the ambulance, the rescue trucks, all of which were likely related to the trauma experience, but he did so without evident anxiety. Later in the session, he played with the dinosaurs and building blocks.

We decided to space sessions out to make sure the gains were solid. The parents reported no further PTSD symptoms after one month and then at another follow-up session three months later. At that time, the parents said, "We have our little boy back."

I followed up by phone a year later, and Bobby's mother reported that they hadn't observed any residual effects of the experience that had terrified both their son and them. The magical powers of play facilitated Bobby's healing, drawing on the only language (symbols and fun) available to him at the time.

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