Basic Principles of Child-Centered Play Therapy (Axline)

These principles are directly quoted from Virginia Axline (1969) Play Therapy. They are the long-standing essentials of non-directive play therapy, however the word “therapist” in each statement could easily be changed to “parent” or “teacher” to help children grow to be psychological and emotionally healthy.

  1. The therapist must develop a warm, friendly relationship with the child, in which good rapport is established as soon as possible.
  2. The therapist accepts the child exactly as he is.
  3. The therapist establishes a feeling a permissiveness in the relationship so that the child feels free to express his feelings completely.
  4. The therapist is alert to recognize the feelings the child is expressing and reflects those feelings back to him in such a manner that he gains insight into his behavior.
  5. The therapist maintains a deep respect for the child’s ability to solve his own problems if given an opportunity to do so. The responsibility to make choices and institute change is the child’s.
  6. The therapist does not attempt to direct the child’s actions or conversation in any manner. The child leads the way; the therapist follows.
  7. The therapist does not attempt to hurry the therapy along. It is a gradual process and is recognized as such by the therapist.
  8. The therapist establishes only those limitations that are necessary to anchor the therapy to the world of reality and to make the child aware of his responsibility in the relationship.
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Laura Hutchison

Laura Hutchison (aka PlayDrMom) is a chubby kid turned competitive figure skater tween turned high school pom pon girl turned MSU Spartan turned grad student turned Mrs. HutcH turned Dr. turned Mom. She adores living in the Mitten, is addicted to Diet Coke, and firmly believes that ice cream is a main food group.

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Comments
  1. Robert Willhite

    I am a student at John Brown University majoring in clinical and mental health counseling with an emphasis on play therapy. I am also the father of five children (two of whom have different forms of Autism). I found your article while researching information for one of my play therapy classes and thought that I would attempt to strike up a conversation with you.

  2. Laura Hutchison

    Wonderful, Robert! I’d be happy to speak with you. You can email me at playdr@gmail.com Also, be sure to check my website for play therapy training. http://www.playtherapyacademy.com

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