The Handbook of Play Therapy and Therapeutic Play  book cover
2nd Edition

The Handbook of Play Therapy and Therapeutic Play

ISBN 9780415439428
Published March 3, 2009 by Routledge
296 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This completely revised and updated second edition provides a comprehensive introduction to using play to communicate with troubled or traumatized children and their families, and to heal emotional damage. The book gives examples of good practice in different settings and situations.

Drawing on psychodynamic, systemic and attachment theory, the book provides an integrated theory base for using play in therapeutic work with children. It emphasizes non-directive approaches to therapeutic play and play therapy, based on supporting the child’s developing self within the safe boundaries provided by the setting and the worker’s emotional holding and containment. Areas explored include:

  • children with disabilities and illnesses
  • daily living with abused and traumatized children
  • helping troubled families
  • difficulties in early years
  • children experiencing separation, loss and bereavement
  • children moving to new families.

The Handbook of Play Therapy and Therapeutic Play is an invaluable resource for all of those using play therapy with children and will appeal not only to play therapists but also to professionals working in the broader field of therapeutic play. It will be useful whether the readers are at the beginning of their training or are well-established and experienced practitioners and managers.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The State of Play. The Development of Play. Approaches to Therapeutic Play. The Process of Therapeutic Play and Play Therapy. Therapeutic Play in the Early Years. Play in Helping Troubled Families. Therapeutic Play for Children with Disabilities and Illness. Therapeutic Play for Children Experiencing Separation, Loss and Bereavement in Their Families. Therapeutic Play with Children who have Experienced Continual Trauma and Loss. Therapeutic Play in Daily Living with Abused and Traumatized Children. Play in Therapeutic Work with Children Moving to New Families.

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Linnet McMahon is a retired Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Reading, where she tutored and for some years led the MA in Therapeutic Child Care course. She has been a play therapist and supervisor, and now provides training and consultancy in therapeutic work with children.


"This book is pervaded by a sense of hope and an overriding belief in the 'healing power of play.' I was moved by the case examples and by McMahon's sense of compassion and empathy for the children whose stories are recorded in this book. I would highly recommend it to anyone considering play therapy as a career or to those already practicing." - Jackie Townsend, Counselling Children and Young People, September 2009

praise for the first edition:

"…essential reading for all those who purport to practice play therapy."British Journal of Occupational Therapy

"A Handbook like this is an excellent idea for other workers who want to help disturbed children but don’t know where to start." Nicholas Tucker, The Times Educational Supplement