play therapy with traumaI hear a lot of therapists asking for resources for using play therapy with trauma. I decided to do some deep digging into my files and I had conversations with several of my revered colleagues who specialize in working with trauma. While this short resource list is hardly comprehensive, you’ll find some real treasures here. Eliana Gil and Paris Goodyear-Brown are my top go-to experts when it comes to using play therapy with trauma. Below you will find three books I highly recommend you add to your library.

(The links in this article are partnership affiliate links which simply means if you should decide to purchase an item from these links your price is the same but our company receives compensation. All items we recommend via these links are vetted by Wonders Counseling and endorses as excellent resources). 

Play Therapy Resources for Children Who have Experienced Trauma

1.Posttraumatic Play in Children: What Clinicians Need to Know by Eilana Gil

This book provides child therapists with valuable information and tools for evaluating and working with post-traumatic play. This play is very different from other kinds of play we see with other children in our play room. The book helps therapist to be able to determine what is happening with the child and provide effective intervention. The book provides case review and information on how trauma impacts development and ways to facilitate children’s innate capacities to heal and repair. The book provides an assessment checklist for therapists to utilize in order to differentiate between useful and harmful post-traumatic play.

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2.Trauma and Play Therapy: Helping Children Heal by Paris Goodyear-Brown

This book provides a blending of the newest developments in the study of trauma recovery in children to help therapists to utilize play therapy with other tools to support the needs of children who have experienced trauma. The TraumaPlayTM model, formerly known as Flexibly Sequential Play Therapy, provides therapists a way to adapt aspects of play therapy in a way that helps children tell their stories while relieving the harm of traumatic experiences. Goodyear-Brown  provides a look at the neurobiological and developmental underpinnings of play therapy as well as specific ways to navigate children’s trauma including sensory integration, symbolism and humor. She provides rich case samples and practical tools for therapists.

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3. Helping Abused and Traumatized Children: Integrating Directive and Nondirective Approaches by Eliana Gil

Gil provides an integrative model for treating traumatized children, combining play with creative and expressive therapies along with techniques drawn from cognitive-behavioral and family therapy. This book shows therapists how to design a treatment plan to match the needs of each individual child by using both directive and non-directive approaches. There are ways to address trauma-related symptoms while also assisting children to be able to process difficult emotions and memories when it is hard to find words to express them. The book provides four case studies that bring richly illustrate the scenario each child and family experiences, the therapist’s process of strategically designing and implementing a treatment plan along with  applications of developmentally informed and effective interventions.

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I recommend to therapists that  it is always wise to access at least three solid resources provided by reputable experts on a topic in addition to specific training and supervision in order to support professional development and competency.  When working with children who have experienced trauma it is important to have thorough preparation that includes neurobiological training, excellent supervision with a trauma expert and plenty of resource support. Both Eliana Gil and Paris Goodyear-Brown offer consultation and supervision.