Play Therapy Influences

Virgiania Axline was influenced by the person centred approach of Carl Rogers and is recognised as the originator of non-directive Play Therapy. Axline recognised that individuals have within themselves a basic drive towards health and better functioning, and that they possess the ability to solve their problems satisfactorily if offered the opportunity and the right climate in which to do so. Axline in turn influenced Violet Oaklander who added a gestalt therapy approach to play therapy and extended the ‘tool-kit’ concept as described in her book ‘Hidden Treasure’.

Axline’s Eight Principles of non-directive Play Therapy can be summarised as follows:

  1. The therapist develops a warm and friendly rapport with the client.
  2. The therapist accepts the client as he/she is.
  3. The therapist establishes a feeling of permission and builds up trust with the client.
  4. The therapist reflects back feelings so that the client hears and can gain and insight into what he/she is saying.
  5. The therapist allows the client responsibility to make choices.
  6. The client leads; the therapist follows.
  7. The therapist does not hurry the therapy. This refers to the process not the actual time of the session.
  8. The therapist applies few limitations which are anchored in reality to make the child aware of responsibilities.

Axline’s principles emphasise the development of trusting relationships between practitioners and children together with an acceptance that children choose the direction sessions are to go in.