1st Edition

Posttraumatic Play in Children
What Clinicians Need to Know

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ISBN 9781462528820
Published March 6, 2017 by Guilford Press
210 Pages

USD $25.00

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Book Description

From leading expert Eliana Gil, this book provides child clinicians with essential knowledge and tools for evaluating and working with posttraumatic play. Such play, which is often repetitive and disturbing, may help resolve traumatic experiences--but can also become toxic. The book guides the clinician to determine what is going on with a given child and intervene sensitively and effectively. Evocative case material is interwoven with up-to-date information on the developmental impact of trauma and ways to facilitate children's natural reparative capacities. A reproducible assessment checklist to help clinicians differentiate between useful and dangerous posttraumatic play can be downloaded and printed in a convenient 8 1/2" x 11" size.

Table of Contents

I. Understanding Posttraumatic Play
1. Introduction to Posttraumatic Play in Children and Youth
2. Types, Forms, and Phases of Posttraumatic Play
3. Evaluating Posttraumatic Play and Intervening When It Is Toxic
4. Manifestations of Posttraumatic Play in Natural Settings and in the Therapy Office      
5. The Larger Treatment Context: A Systemic Approach to Posttraumatic Play
II. Clinical Illustrations
6. The Car Crash
7. “When Mommy Comes Back”
8. “Daddy Hits Me When I’m Really Bad!”
9. When Posttraumatic Play Doesn’t Emerge Naturally
10. Burn Injuries
11. Chronic Sexual Abuse
12. The Terror of Bullying
13. “I Will Come Out by Myself”
14. Conjoint Narrative Sharing
Appendix. Checklist for Posttraumatic Play

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Eliana Gil, PhD, is founding partner in a private group practice, the Gil Institute for Trauma Recovery and Education, in Fairfax, Virginia. She is also Director of Starbright Training Institute for Child and Family Play Therapy. Dr. Gil has worked in the field of child abuse prevention and treatment since 1973. A licensed marriage, family, and child counselor; an approved marriage and family therapy supervisor; a registered art therapist; and a registered play therapy supervisor, she is a former President of the Association for Play Therapy, which honored her with its Lifetime Achievement Award. She is the author of The Healing Power of Play, Helping Abused and Traumatized Children, and Play in Family Therapy, Second Edition, among many other publications. Originally from Guayaquil, Ecuador, Dr. Gil is bilingual and bicultural.


"This groundbreaking contribution by one of the preeminent leaders in the child trauma field is practical, highly accessible, and invaluable. Gil’s extensive knowledge and experience are evident throughout, especially in the detailed case illustrations that demonstrate specific, innovative techniques and systemic interventions for addressing posttraumatic play. The book comprehensively explores important issues such as pacing, clinical directiveness, and enhancement of the therapeutic relationship. It should be required reading for all therapists who work with traumatized young children."--Cheryl Lanktree, PhD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California

"Therapists will treasure this remarkable book from a remarkable play therapist. Gil brilliantly conceptualizes posttraumatic play and its treatment. This work is sorely needed, given that many available therapies are ill suited for children with these types of developmental challenges. Gil points to the convergence of research (including neuroscience) informing us of the core elements of trauma treatment. The book discusses how to use play, art, and other expressive techniques in a relationally rich context to support a child's recovery in mind, body, and spirit."--Richard L. Gaskill, EdD, LCP, RPT-S, Sumner Mental Health Center, Wellington, Kansas

"This jewel of a book devotes much-needed attention to posttraumatic play, an underexplored but relatively common issue among traumatized children. It features clear, compelling descriptions and clinical tools. Gil's wise guidance, case examples, and practical strategies make this book an essential reference that will benefit experienced child-focused therapists as well as students."--Janine Shelby, PhD, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles