Play therapy with children who have been abused or neglected

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Milgrom, Claire
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Children who have been abused or neglected are at risk of compromised development physically, emotionally, cognitively, sexually and socially. Compromised development can negatively affect their ability as children, adolescents and adults to function positively and effectively in their environments. The focus of this practicum was the provision of play therapy for children who had experienced abuse or neglect. The practicum experience included working with four children under the age of 12 on a weekly basis for approximately one year. A review of the literature regarding the definition of play, play therapy models and techniques, abuse and neglect of children, and issues of working with children in care, is provided. Two case examples are described including an evaluation of the outcomes using standardized measures. Clinical themes relevant to play therapy with children who have been abused or neglected are discussed and include the therapeutic relationship; transference; loyalty to parents; anger, anxiety and aggression; developmental issues; and systemic issues.