Mastering Limit Setting in Child-Centered Play Therapy: A Deep Dive

Apr 16, 2024

In this episode, we take a pause from my planned curriculum to address a crucial skill that many therapists find challenging: limit setting in child-centered play therapy. Over the next two weeks, we will explore this topic in depth, aiming to refine and enhance your limit-setting techniques.

Limit setting in therapy sessions is a multifaceted skill that integrates the ability to reflect feelings, communicate limits neutrally, and provide viable choices. Despite its complexity, mastering this skill is vital for effective therapy, especially as it is less frequently practiced compared to other techniques like reflecting feelings or encouraging children. This rarity can make each instance of limit setting feel urgent and high-pressure, particularly in situations where immediate behavioral management is required.

Today’s discussion unpacks the reasons why therapists often struggle with this skill and suggests practical strategies to improve. We delve into the importance of practicing empowerment choices—simple decisions given to children that enhance their sense of control. This practice not only boosts children’s confidence but also helps therapists become more adept at the seamless integration of choices into limit-setting scenarios.

Join me as I lay the groundwork for next week’s continuation of this topic, where we will focus more on practicing and refining the specific steps involved in effective limit setting. This series aims to provide you with the tools and confidence needed to tackle one of the more complex aspects of child-centered play therapy, ensuring that you can support your young clients in the most effective manner possible.

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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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