Integrating Play Therapy in the Home-Based Setting Module

Module Sections:

Kottman's 4 C's

Kottman (1999) suggests that every behavior has a purpose and children must master each of the four Crucial C's: courage, connect, capable, and count.

Courage: willingness to face life's tasks and take risks even when they do not know if they can succeed. When children have courage they feel hopeful, are resilient, and believe they can handle challenging situations; without courage they feel inferior and inadequate;, may give up without trying, and avoid challenges.

Connect: need to connect with others. When children feel connected they feel secure, are able to cooperate, can reach out and make friends, and feel they belong; without this sense of connection children feel isolated and insecure, and may seek attention (often negative attention) to have a place to belong.

Capable: need to feel they are competent and capable of caring for themselves. Children who feel capable have a sense of competence, self-control and self-discipline; they are self-reliant and can assume responsibility for themselves and their behavior; they believe they can do whatever they set their mind to; without this capable feeling children feel inadequate, frequently try to control others or let others know they cannot be controlled or become dependent on others or seek to overpower others.

Count: need to feel they are significant. Children who feel that they count, believe they can make a difference in the world and contribute to others around them; they feel valuable and valued and believe they matter; without this they feel insignificant, hurt, and may react to their feelings by trying to hurt others; they develop poor self-esteem, give up, try to intimidate others, or overcompensate by acting superior.

Kottman (1999) asserts that children need to achieve mastery in these areas and play helps them to do this. Oleander (1978) explains that her "goal is to help the child become aware of herself and her existence in the world. The process of work with the child is a gentle, flowing one – an organic event. What goes on inside you, the therapist, and what goes on inside the child in any one session is a gentle merging" (p. 53). As the therapist presents an environment that is free of interpretation and judgment, secure for the child to express self, the child will work through the issues that plague them and reclaim themselves.

Write a Journal Entry

Take time to reflect, then write in your HBFT journal about the following topic.

Consider some of the families you are working with and how these Crucial C's are evident or missing within those families.

Adults often suppress their ability to play thus negatively impacting the interactions in their child's world. For adults, play is often educational. Think about how often the adult asks a child what color a toy is rather than simply engaging with the child in play. Play therapy can provide an opportunity for the parent and therapist to be truly present with a child because they enter the child's problem solving process. A parent and the therapist will also learn about self through the play therapy process. One cannot participate in the play therapy process without being impacted. Play therapy provides an opportunity for self-discovery and self-growth. Moustakas (1981 in Landreth, 1991) states:

"the challenge of therapy is to serve, to wait with interest and concern for the child to activate the will and to choose to act, to dare to pursue what is present in the way of interest and desire. This calls for unusual patience and an unshakable belief in the child's capacity to find the way, to come to terms with the restraints and tensions of living, a belief in the child's powers to listen inwardly and to make choices that are self-enhancing" (p. 60).

The play therapist believes in the inherent ability of the child to move the process in the direction it needs to go and to be able to resolve the issues when provided with the means to do so, the safe and secure environment that includes the resources the child needs.

Audio Companion: Integrating Play Therapy