Therapeutic Use of Play

In childhood, play is a major means of communication. The direct and indirect (reactive) effects of a physical illness can interfere with the child's ability to play, and restoration of the ability to play may indicate improvement in illness or response to psychotherapy. Play provides a medium in which the experience of the child's illness can be more easily understood and mastered. Play materials may include stuffed animals or dolls, art materials, and medical supplies. There are also a growing number of resources available using fictional illness stories to help children work through illness-related conflicts using displacement (Crohn's and Colitis Foun dation of America 2007; Thomson 2005). Actual medical objects may be introduced to help desensitize the child and provide a sense of mastery. Sourkes (1998) described several play therapy techniques that can be used with physically ill children.

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