Decreasing Childhood Anxiety with Play Therapy and CBT
Andrea Driggs McLeod
The goal of this workshop is to provide participants with information about how to successfully implement play therapy and playful Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approaches with children experiencing anxiety. Play Therapy is relationship-based and provides children with 1) the opportunity to self-direct; 2) the experience of control and mastery; and 3) the experience of a permissive environment and relationship in which they can access natural healing mechanisms such as post-trauma play. Children who suffer from anxiety can benefit from opportunities to work with clinicians who are able to gain an understanding of the child’s perspective, experiences, and triggers. Clinicians who learn to utilize effective play therapy and playful CBT skills, are better able to both allow and encourage children to express and release affect, explore alternative coping skills to gain understanding and become more regulated, and begin to manage thoughts and emotions that can feel overwhelming or frightening. This workshop will serve to develop and enhance participants’ skills to integrate and implement an integrated approach highlighting play therapy and CBT in their settings and amplify children’s exploration of the material they externalize, within a safe, predictable environment. This program will teach participants the benefits of adding play therapy to their CBT services and vice versa, exploring how a fully integrated approach provides flexibility and playfulness while giving children useful strategies for coping with difficult thoughts, emotions, or behaviors.