Hugs And I Love You’s: Responding to Children’s Affection

Dec 14, 2023

In this episode of the Play Therapy Podcast, I address a significant question from Tammy in rural British Columbia and I received a similar question from listener Katarina. Both inquire about how to respond when children express love or seek hugs during therapy sessions. Exploring this, I highlight the therapist’s personality and comfort with touch, stressing the importance of considering alternatives if physical touch isn’t within one’s comfort zone. I delve into the ethics surrounding physical affection, discussing how personal boundaries and professionalism play a role. I emphasize the significance of intention behind the child’s actions, underscoring the need to understand why they seek affection. Responding to these expressions of love, I share insights into potential responses, considering the child’s needs and the therapeutic relationship. Ultimately, the goal remains understanding and meeting the child’s needs in a child-centered approach.

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  • 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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