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|Mental Health Conditions & Concerns|
Control of anger has become an increasingly prominent issue in recent years. We see this lack of control acted out in school shootings and an increase in bullying in school (Sandhu, 2001). Many children struggle to express their emotion in healthy ways and without causing injury to other children. Play therapy can help children to work through their anger and find more appropriate ways to express the angry emotions that can lead to acting out (McGuire, 2001; Ogawa, 2004).
Grief and Loss
Children, like adults experience many losses ranging from death of a loved one or family pet to relocating to a new town and losing secure connections; children react in multifarious ways (Elliott & Place; 1998). Behaviors and symptoms include anger, biting, withdrawal, prolonged sadness, despondency, lower grades in school and much more (Ayyash-Abo, 2001; Gil, 1991). Play therapy is a helpful intervention that helps children sort out feelings and develop healthier adaptations (LeVieux, 1994; Webb, 2003).
Divorce and Family Dissolution
When a family falls apart, whatever shape of from the family takes, children feel the loss deeply (Kramer & Smith, 1998). When this loss goes unrecognized symptoms can exacerbate. Symptoms match the child's developmental level and have a broad range (Ayyash-Abo, 2001). Children often blame themselves; Younger children often believe the parent who has left the home may never come back (Elliott & Place, 1998). Older children may react with violence and anger issues. Whatever the behaviors and feeling, Play Therapy assists by providing an environment for the child to explore the feelings and pain that are bottled up inside (Pedro-Carroll & Reddy, 2005).
Crisis and Trauma
Children react to Trauma in a multitude of ways and the impact of trauma on the children depends on many factors including resiliency levels and culture (Gil & Drewes, 2004; Ogawa, 2004). Traumatic events can be individual to the child (such as witnessing an animal being killed by an automobile), the entire family (the families home might have been burglarized) and an entire community (the community may have been impacted by a tornado). These events, while happening every day, have devastating effects upon children, especially when they go unprocessed (Ayyash-Abo, 2001). Children need opportunities to make sense of bad things that happen. Play therapy provides that opportunity and enhances the child's ability to gain mastery very fearful events (Ogawa, 2004; Tyndall-Lind, 2001).