An Introduction to Adlerian Play Therapy
Lori Fairgrieve, PhD
Chair, Department of Counselor Supervision, Northwest Nazarene University
Past President, Idaho Counseling Association (2009-2010)
This preconference is an introduction to Adlerian Play Therapy (AdPT). AdPT combines the concepts of Alfred Adler’s theory with the principles and practices of play therapy. AdPT applies Adler’s concepts through directive and nondirective play interventions facilitating positive change in clients in fun ways for play therapists and for clients.
Adlerian Play Therapy (AdPT) allows children to engage in a therapeutic process that values them as creative, resourceful, and whole. AdPT combines the concepts of Alfred Adler’s theory with the principles and practices of play therapy and allows play therapists to develop their own style in the playroom. Fundamental assumptions underlying AdPT include: (a) people are socially embedded and have a need to belong; (b) children develop feelings of inferiority and strive to overcome these inferiority feelings their whole lives; (c) people are creative and self-determining; (d) all behavior has a purpose; and (e) reality is perceived subjectively. Adlerians believe people are best understood in their social context. So, in AdPT, the therapist considers the ways clients find to belong and gain significance in all of their ecosystems. In AdPT, the therapist assesses clients’ social interest and devises ways to support the development of community feeling and social skills in play therapy sessions and through consultation with parents and teachers. Progress unfolds through the four phases of Adlerian therapy, and Adlerian play therapists combine non-directive skills with directive strategies according to the phase of counseling and clients’ specific needs. In general, the goals of Adlerian play therapy are for clients to (a) feel more connected and be able to interact with others in prosocial ways; (b) develop and practice more positive ways for belonging and gaining significance; (c) learn to cope with feelings of discouragement and inferiority in healthier ways; (d) recognize patterns of self-defeating beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors and shift to more constructive patterns; and (e) notice when they are stuck in feeling inferior and develop helpful coping strategies. This workshop is an overview of AdPT and its application of Adlerian principles through fun directive and nondirective play interventions which facilitates positive change for both clients and play therapists.
• The participant should be able to describe the fundamental assumptions underlying AdPT.
• The participant should be able to identify the four phases of AdPT.
• The participant should be able to recognize various lifestyle elements in AdPT.
• The participant should be able to illustrate how to use AdPT tools to conceptualize and develop effective treatment plans for their clients.
The Idaho Counseling Association is a Branch of the American Counseling Association
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Boise, ID 83701
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