Childswork/Childsplay is the leading provider of proprietary child therapy resources in the United States, focusing on therapeutic tools used by counselors and family/child therapists to address the social and emotional needs of children and adolescents, ages 3 – 18.
Childswork/Childsplay was started in 1985 by Dr. Lawrence Shapiro, Ph.D. The company quickly became, and continues to be, a leader in publishing therapeutic board games, card games, puzzles, and therapy boards. Currently owned and operated by The Guidance Group, Childswork/Childsplay also offers a variety of resources focused on play therapy: play therapy supplies for schools, play therapy games, and child play therapy toys. These products help children and teens to achieve clarity and to better understand and deal with the emotional issues that they face.
Our products are designed to teach children and teens new emotional intelligence skills to help them overcome or cope with such diverse topics as: ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome, anxiety disorders, behavioral problems, dealing with divorce, impulse control, and many more.
Childswork/Childsplay manufactures and distributes the original and most popular psychotherapy board game, The Talking, Feeling, & Doing Game. Created in 1973 by Dr. Richard Gardner, The Talking, Feeling, & Doing Game is still considered today to be THE GAME to have for professionals. Based on the technique of mutual storytelling, it helps to elicit responses from kids for meaningful psychotherapeutic exchanges.
Childswork/Childsplay’s wide array of therapeutic games, toys, books, and many other resources, can be found and purchased through the company’s website: www.childswork.com
Child play therapy has a long history, going back thousands of years. “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Plato (429 - 347 B.C.).
Sigmund Freud, known as the father of modern psychology, is credited with the first documented case describing the therapeutic use of play. In 1909, Freud published his analysis of Little Hans, a five-year-old child with a severe phobia. Freud worked with Little Hans once, and then corresponded regularly with the boy’s father, recommending that he take note of Hans’ play to gain insight into the source of the phobia.
It was Anna Freud (Sigmund Freud's daughter) who formally recognized that a therapist could actually gain access to a child’s inner emotional world when they are playing, and therefore, that children needed a different method of therapy than the traditional adult therapy. By 1928, she began using play therapy and play therapy activities to replace free association (talk therapy).
In the 1930s, Britain became fertile ground for the development of child play therapy. The psychiatrist Margaret Lowenfeld was influenced by H.G. Wells’ book Floor Games (1911), in which he described playing with his children using a variety of small toys and objects to create imaginary worlds. Lowenfeld adapted this play technique for use with the sandboxes in her London child therapy clinic, and called it World Technique. World Technique was analyzed and praised by noted psychiatrist Carl Jung, and soon recognized and adopted by the psychiatric community.
During the same time period, David Levy introduced a technique he called Release Therapy. His theory was that using certain toys in a structured play therapy setting could help children reenact and release the negative emotions caused by traumatic events they had experienced. Gove Hambidge expanded on Levy‘s work in 1955 with Structured Play Therapy, which was more direct in introducing the stress-inducing situations to play sessions, followed by the use of free play to recover.
In the early 1930s, Jesse Taft and Frederick Allen introduced an approach they called Relationship Therapy, emphasizing the emotional relationship between the therapist and the child. A decade later, Carl Rogers expanded on this concept with Non-directive Therapy, which later became known as Client-centered Therapy. This focus on the relationship between client and therapist, believed to be a catalyst to induce healing, became central to child therapy practice.
During the following decades, many other therapists advocated and expanded on the benefits of child play therapy. Among them was Virginia Axline, who developed and defined the basic principles of therapeutic relationships to help play therapists work with their young clients. Her principles continue to guide much of current play therapy practice.
Bernard and Louise Guerney brought a new innovation, called Filial Therapy, to the field in the 1960’s, introducing a training program to teach parents and caregivers to use child-centered play therapy techniques at home.
As therapists and counselors used and embraced child play therapy, it began to expand from the private sector into schools. Proponents such as Muro, Landreth, and Alexander encouraged school counselors to start using play therapy to help treat and prevent emotional issues among students. Garry Landreth, a current leader in the field of play therapy, wrote Play Therapy: The Art of the Relationship, considered by many to be the “bible of play therapy.” He is a follower and promoter of the non-directive play therapy approach.
Parents are now trained and encouraged to use play therapy at home while the child continues in weekly sessions with their therapist.
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The Guidance Group -- through their websites Childswork.com and CourageToChange.com -- provides many play therapy resources, including games, activities, books, and interactive tools. We present this history of child play therapy as a resource only, and do not advocate using these or other tools to bypass seeking the assistance of professionals. While play therapy can be used, in part, to better connect with children, we do not suggest that it can be used by parents and/or school counselors to resolve all emotional issues children and teens struggle with. Professional counselors should always be consulted first.
Center for Play Therapy: University of North Texas. Accessed 2/5/15.
Famous Psychologists.org. “Anna Freud.” Accessed 2/5/15.
Homeyer, Linda E., and Morrison, Mary O. 2008. “Play Therapy Practice, Issues, and Trends.” American Journal of Play.org. Accessed 2/10/15.
Levin, Tara, Psy.D. “Play Therapy and Theraplay.” Accessed 2/5/15.
Play Therapy United Kingdom.org. “Axline Principles.” Accessed 2/5/15.
Sandplay Therapists of America.org. “The History and Development of Sandplay Therapy.” Accessed 2/5/15.