07:02am Friday 10 July 2020

Act of play makes a difference to child's life

The simple act of play can make a profound difference to a child’s life according to a University of Tasmania academic.

Tomorrow (July 1 2013) is National Play Therapy Day and UTAS Rural Clinical School Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Judi Parson wants to raise public awareness of play therapy.

“In the past, play therapy hasn’t been given the voice or recognition about its success in helping children and young adults,” Dr Parson said.

“Play therapy is a therapeutic tool because kids do not have, or do not want to use, cognitive capabilities to talk through their hurts.

“Play gives them the language to express their desires, wishes and hurts.”

Dr Parson is the state’s only Registered Play Therapist – Supervisor and is based on the North West. She joins a small but growing group of practitioners across Australia.

She said play could be carried out across a number of different mediums including sand boxes, puppets and drawings, with play therapy used in hospitals, schools and community settings.

She has worked with children and young people dealing with issues including motor vehicle accidents, bereavements, anxiety, physical and sexual abuse and neglect.

“I see the child as the expert. Therapy, in the form of play, comes directly from the child and allows them to freely express their thoughts, feelings and emotions,” Dr Parson said.

Dr Parson began her career as a paediatric nurse before undertaking her PhD Integration of procedural play for children undergoing cystic fibrosis treatment: A nursing perspective.

Her studies have taken her abroad and she is currently one of the directors for the Australasia Pacific Play Therapy Association (APPTA).

“My research is unique because play therapy is really cutting edge in Australia,” Dr Parson said.

“There are very few tertiary qualified play therapists in the country. Therefore, my research supports a growing team in this emerging field, including three Higher Degree Research students.”

The Association will hold its annual conference, Diversity in Play Therapy, at Sea World, Queensland, in August.

University of Tasmania, Australia

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