CCPT is a Way of Being, Not a Technique: Wisdom from Art of The Relationship

Jun 11, 2024

In this episode, I dive into the true essence of Child-Centered Play Therapy (CCPT) by sharing powerful excerpts from Garry Landreth’s seminal book “Art of The Relationship”. Landreth emphasizes that CCPT is not just a set of techniques, but a way of being and a philosophy for living one’s life in relationships with children. It requires internalizing a deep belief in children’s innate capacity for growth, self-direction, and resiliency.

As I reflect on this, I discuss how the heart of CCPT lies in embodying this philosophy in every interaction, allowing it to transform not just our therapy but our relationships and communication in all areas of life. I caution against getting caught up in skills and knowledge at the expense of the true essence of CCPT – a way of being with children, seeing through their eyes, and patiently understanding their struggles. Ultimately, CCPT is about the healing power of the relationship and unwavering faith in the child’s inner wisdom.

I hope this episode grounds you in the foundations of classical CCPT and inspires you to embrace this way of being.

References from this episode:
Landreth, G. L. (2023). Play therapy: The art of the relationship (4th ed.). Routledge.

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The Essence of Child-Centered Play Therapy: Insights from Garry Landreth’s “Art of The Relationship”

In this episode of the Play Therapy Podcast, we explore the true nature of Child-Centered Play Therapy (CCPT) through excerpts from Garry Landreth’s book “Art of The Relationship” 4th edition. We discover that CCPT is more than a set of techniques; it is a philosophy and way of being that influences our lives and relationships with children.

CCPT: A Philosophy for Living

Landreth states that CCPT is “an encompassing philosophy for living one’s life in relationships with children – not a cloak of techniques.”(Landreth, 2023, p. 53). It is a way of being that comes from a belief in children’s capacity for growth, self-direction, and resilience. “Child-centered play therapy is a complete therapeutic system, not just the application of a few rapport building techniques, and is based on a deep and abiding belief in the capacity and resiliency of children to be constructively self-directing.” (Landreth, 2023, p. 53).

Embodying CCPT: Transforming Therapy and Life

The more we embody CCPT, the more it influences every interaction we have, not just in the playroom but in all areas of our lives. Embracing the CCPT philosophy can transform our relationships and communication. We don’t merely practice CCPT; we become CCPT.

Trusting the Child’s Inner Wisdom

CCPT is founded on trust in the child’s “innate inner directional, constructive, forward moving, creative, self-healing movement toward growth.” (Landreth, 2023, p. 53). When we embody this belief in the playroom, we empower children and unleash their capabilities for self-exploration and self-discovery, leading to change.

Being With, Not Doing To

Landreth reminds us that “CCPT is an attitude, a philosophy, and a way of being with children rather than a way of doing something to or for children.” (Landreth, 2023, p. 54). Being with a child requires seeing the world through their eyes, understanding their struggles, and embracing the unknown. It is about cultivating a relationship that nurtures growth and fosters the child’s belief in themselves.

Returning to the Essence of CCPT

In our journey to become skilled child-centered play therapists, we must not get lost in the pursuit of techniques. While these aspects are important, they must not overshadow the essence of CCPT – the being. As we ground ourselves in the foundational texts and wisdom of pioneers like Garry Landreth, we reconnect with the heart of what makes CCPT powerful.

Finally, I encourage you to reflect on how you can embody the CCPT philosophy more fully in your life and work. CCPT is not a hat we put on and take off; it is who we are. By embracing this way of being, we support the children we work with and cultivate more authentic relationships in all aspects of our lives. Let us remain rooted in the essence of CCPT and trust in the power of being with children.

Landreth, G. L. (2023). Play therapy: The art of the relationship (4th ed.). Routledge.


  • Cochran, N., Nordling, W., & Cochran, J. (2010). Child-Centered Play Therapy (1st ed.). Wiley.
  • VanFleet, R., Sywulak, A. E., & Sniscak, C. C. (2010). Child-centered play therapy. Guilford Press.
  • Landreth, G. L. (2002). Play therapy: The art of the relationship (2nd ed.). Brunner-Routledge.
  • Bratton, S. C., Landreth, G. L., Kellam, T., & Blackard, S. R. (2006). Child parent relationship therapy (CPRT) treatment manual: A 10-session filial therapy model for training parents. Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.
  • Benedict, Helen. Themes in Play Therapy. Used with permission to Heartland Play Therapy Institute.
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