Social worker uses play therapy to help children


Staff writer

A wonderful woman lived in a shoe.

She had so many children

She knew exactly what to do.

She held them.

She rocked them.

And tucked them in bed.

"I love you, I love you,"

Is what she said.

This new take on a familiar Mother Goose rhyme is an example of positive play therapy.

Mothers naturally have played with their children for years, but now a structured, theoretically- based approach to therapy has been developed for social workers that builds on the normal communicative and learning processes of children.

Cheri Ochs-Wheeler of Marion is an employee of Prairie View and also is president of the Kansas Association of Play Therapy, a non-profit organization.

At Friday's Interagency meeting in Marion, she explained the work she does with children and the various resources she uses to teach them skills in dealing with emotional and behavioral problems.

One of her sources is "I Love You Rituals," by Becky Bailey, which provides activities parents and other caregivers can do with children to help them feel connected and loved.

Play therapy is especially useful for children who are facing stressful situations such as divorce, death, relocation, hospitalization, chronic illness, and domestic violence.

Play therapy is being used in school systems and family courts, as well.