Symbolic play is the process of inventing imaginary situations or re-enactments in the safety of the relationship, in which a story unfolds revealing the child’s inner world and developmental readiness to engage in their emotional life. In therapy, symbolic play tells a collective story emerging from the reciprocal relationships between the minds and hearts of children, parents and therapists. This creates shared emotions and mental states that give meaning, and open the children’s potential for resolution, growth and advancing development. The first day of the Conference plenary sessions will examine the role of symbolic play in treating early trauma, emotional difficulties such as anxiety, attachment, depression, sadness, anger and behavioral disruptions, divorce and parent alienation, as well as the role of symbolic play in the treatment of ASD and other developmental challenges. The emotional challenges and anxieties that are an expected part of development will also be emphasized. A round table discussion will address the similarities and differences among play methodologies for trauma, emotionally based difficulties and developmental differences. The second day of the Conference will address how related disciplines such as mental health, creative arts, education, family therapists, occupational, speech and language as well as mental health therapists employ symbolic play and process in their interventions. Small group, case-based, breakout sessions will reflect on understanding the impact of neuro-biological individual differences across trauma, emotional difficulties, and developmental differences. It will enrich each discipline’s recognition of the underlying complexity of symbolic capacity and how different disciplines working independently or together can deepen the therapeutic process and outcomes.
- Describe the benefits of using symbolic play in the treatment of trauma, emotionally based difficulties and developmental differences.
- Explain the reasons for different approaches to working with parents in these groups.
- Compare the differences and similarities in how anxiety is manifest in these groups.
- Describe the underlying complexity of symbolic capacity related to neurobiology, psychodynamics, and developmental readiness