The frequency and intensity of natural disasters, wars, terrorism, medical procedures, violence, car and airplane crashes, as well as, abuse are affecting the mental stability of our children. Traumatic events can be sudden in onset, and chaotic in the aftermath. Trauma may also be repeated events, as in the case of abuse. Green et al., (2014), states that: “complex trauma changes adolescents’ brain neural proliferation and causes physiological alterations in the brain structure, and function of key neural networks related to responses affiliated with stress.” How can we reach young children who are developmentally unable to process abstract thoughts, and struggle to speak about or make sense of their fears, and anxieties resulting from catastrophic events? “Since children ages two to ten are still in the cognitive developmental stage of pre-operations or concrete operations the most developmentally appropriate ways for children to express themselves is through play” (Jordan et al, 2013, p. 223).
The following study explores the efficacy of using play therapy with children exposed to childhood trauma to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Childhood trauma can be defined as, “an actual or perceived threat of danger which overwhelms a child’s ability to self regulate emotional reactions, and coping abilities” (Jordan et al, 2013, p. 219). These symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, aggressiveness, sleeplessness, withdraw, generalized fears, and disturbing thoughts. Prior research suggests that child-centered play therapy significantly decreases the symptoms of trauma in contrast to those receiving other traditional therapies. ...
... middle of paper ...
...sts of 89 comprehensive questions on an ordinal
scale of 0-3 (0-no evidence, 1-no direct effects, 2-affected, 3-directly affected),
developed by Cassandra Kisiel, Ph.D., John Lyons, Ph.D., Margaret Blaustein, Ph.D.,
Tracy Fehrenbach, Ph.D., Gene Griffin, Ph.D., Jamie Germain, Ph.D., Glenn Saxe, M.D.,
and Heidi Ellis, Ph.D. The assessment is designed for children ages 5 through 18 and
scores areas such as exposure to potentially traumatic/adverse experiences, symptoms
related to traumatic/adverse experiences, child strengths, life domain functioning,
acculturation, behavioral and emotional needs, child risk behaviors, in addition to
caregiver needs and strengths. The play therapy room was equipped with dolls, trucks,
cars, animals, building blocks, puppets, and other items. Also included are art supplies
and items relating to all five senses.
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