BC Counsellor - Winter 2009 - (Page 23)

PLAYFUL HEALING Co-written by Susie Lang-Gould & Anne McLeod Vancouver School Board Area Counsellors The importance of professional development cannot be over emphasized, especially in the counselling field. In order to be accountable and effective in our practice, it is important that we are up to date on the latest research, techniques and knowledge of our profession. As Area Counsellors, we participate in a variety of professional development throughout the year including workshops, guest speakers and/or intensive training in a relevant theory, such as play therapy. All of these professional development opportunities are in place to help us improve our skills in the important work we do with children. As a group, there is no doubt that professional development greatly enhances the quality of counselling services we offer in elementary schools today. Each year, we collaboratively and democratically decide what focus of intensive professional development would most contribute to our current work in schools. For the year 2008, play therapy was chosen. Many counsellors showed interest and therefore two groups of eight and nine counsellors were created and all committed to meeting once a month for a year. Under the experienced facilitation of Mary-Ann Pare, for 12 two-hour sessions, we were enveloped in the theoretical and experiential understanding of play therapy. Each meeting we were engaged in activities and discussions that outlined the significance of play therapy in healing children. Children’s natural language is play. They explore and make meaning of their life and experiences through play. Play therapy creates a dynamic interpersonal relationship between the child and the therapist. As children play with a trained therapist, they are able to establish a safe and trusting relationship where the child is able to self-guide and self-heal. Play therapy is a therapeutic approach that enables children to “play out” their experiences and to express their feelings. Additionally, play can bridge the gap between the concrete and abstract for children. Play is an important medium for a child to communicate, a way in which the child is able to be heard and understood. It is through play therapy that children are able to express themselves, gain a sense of control, learn coping skills and build social competence. There could be no better space to learn about play therapy than in Mary-Anne Pare’s child-centred playroom. Through the play therapist lens, we were given the opportunity to witness and experience the process of change. We were told about the history of play therapy, and discussed how healing occurs both from a theoretical standpoint and by putting specific techniques into practice. We discovered the limitless possibilities of play in a well-equipped, organized and interactive playroom. Through this experience, many Area Counsellors were inspired to update their toy and art collections in their own offices. Sand trays, costumes, puppets, dollhouses and clay are just a few of the items that can be used with children in play therapy. It is often during professional development experiences that Area Counsellors get a chance to really get to know their colleagues. In play therapy, we explored how to respond to children and families through the analysis of case studies and through the sharing and discussion of various ideas and approaches to the case. Through our active participation in guided experiential activities, we were encouraged to be both open and honest in the same kind of confidential and supportive environment created in our practice. In the participation of play therapy activities, we became more engaged in the play therapist role but we also gained greater understanding of the role of the child. It really is quite amazing to feel awarenesses awaken within yourself through the magical and enjoyable experience of play. It may be a rare circumstance, as an adult, at work, to be asked to just “play.” But in the context of this particular professional development, play preceded healing, which is what is asked of us everyday, in our work as Area Counsellors. We consider ourselves fortunate to be Area Counsellors in a district that honors and affords us professional development opportunities. It is through professional development experiences like this intensive play therapy training that allows us to grow both professionally and personally. We feel more confident as therapists, inspired to continue the significant role we play in schools and motivated to create an environment where playful healing can occur. BC Counsellor | Winter 2009 | www.bcschoolcounsellor.com 23 http://www.bcschoolcounsellor.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of BC Counsellor - Winter 2009

BC Counsellor - Winter 2009
President's Message
The Fine Print
Wanderers and Strangers
Internet Intimidation: Cyberbullying Affects an Alarming Number of Students
Raising the Alert on Cyber Bullying
Playful Healing
School Counselling Across Canada: Nova Scotia
Book Reviews
Index to Advertisers

BC Counsellor - Winter 2009