The Healthcare Play Specialist provides age appropriate medical play opportunities to the client in the play therapy setting to support children in understanding the challenging and difficult experiences they may face while attending hospital/clinic appointments or dealing with a newly diagnosed condition. The Play Therapy environment allows children and adolescents to explore aspects of medical play that may be unfamiliar and frightening to them in a safe non-clinical setting. The Healthcare Play Specialist will assist a child or adolescent to gain a sense of mastery and control, which in turn can alleviate misconceptions about medical situations. The Healthcare Play Specialist can also help a child who has had a prior traumatic experience and, although the memories of the trauma cannot be erased, with time new memories can be fostered and stimulated.
"So what therapeutic tools can be introduced?"
The Healthcare Play Specialist may assist the child in making a 'pretend' patient out of one of the child’s dolls or teddies. Here the child can tailor the doll to address their particular fear or condition. Creating their own dolls/patient allows children to have a certain degree of control over their situation. Some other types of medical equipment used for working through specific procedures would include alcohol wipes, cotton balls, band aid, blood pressure cuff, stethoscope, needle, syringe, IV tubing, tourniquet, gauze, tape, surgical masks, scrub attire, and anaesthesia masks/head cover.
As with Play Therapy, one of the first and most important features of my practice is a parent information meeting in which a complete history of the child/family circumstances is attained. This parental meeting allows the parent to become familiar with the therapist and voice any queries. The meeting also allows the parent to see the Play Therapy room/practice and discuss any medical equipment that may be required. Based on the information acquired an appropriate Play Therapy/treatment plan is chosen.
"So how many sessions are needed?"
The amount of sessions required will be determined at the initial interview and will depend on severity of the medical condition, phobia or worries presented. Because children are unique and their circumstances are diverse, the individual length of sessions may vary.