Play-Based Interventions for Childhood Anxieties, Fears, and Phobias

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Athena Drewes, Charles Schaefer

  • Play-Based Interventions for Childhood Anxieties, Fears, and Phobias

276 pages
Age Range: 3 to 12
ISBN: 9781462534708

Illustrating the power of play for helping children overcome a wide variety of worries, fears, and phobias, this book provides a toolkit of play therapy approaches and techniques. Coverage encompasses everyday fears and worries in 3- to 12-year-olds as well as anxiety disorders and post-traumatic problems. Leading practitioners describe their approaches step by step and share vivid illustrative case material. Each chapter also summarises the research base for the interventions discussed. Key topics include adapting therapy to each child's developmental level, engaging reluctant or less communicative clients, and involving parents in treatment.

A practical resource for clinicians working with 3- to 12-year-olds, including art, play, and other creative therapists; child clinical psychologists; social workers; counsellors; and child psychiatrists.

Table of Contents


  1. Play-Based Approaches for Treating Childhood Anxieties: Basic Concepts and Practices, Charles E. Schaefer & Athena A. Drewes

I. Common Childhood Fears and Anxieties

  1. Anxiety and the Hospitalized Child: Best Practices for Guiding Therapeutic Play, Donna Koller
  2. Play Interventions for Children’s Nighttime Fears, Julie Blundon Nash
  3. Play Therapy Practices with Children Experiencing Nightmares, Deborah Armstrong
  4. Play-Based Treatment for School-Related Fears and Phobias of Children, Clair Mellenthin
  5. Release Play Interventions for Children Who Experienced Stressful Life Events, Heidi Gerard Kaduson

II. Specific Anxiety Disorders

  1. Integrating Play and Cognitive-Behavioral Interventions to Treat Childhood Worries and Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Taming Worry Dragons, Sandra L. Clark & E. Jane Garland
  2. Theraplay as a Treatment for Children with Selective Mutism: Integrating the Polyvagal Theory, Attachment Theory and Social Communication, Lydia C. Glibota, Sandra Lindaman, & A. Rand Coleman
  3. Integrating Play Therapy into Treatment of Children with Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder, Eric Green & Amie C. Myrick
  4. Play Therapy for Separation Anxiety in Children, Paris Goodyear-Brown & Elizabeth Andersen
  5. Effective Play-Based Interventions for Social Anxiety Disorder, Vicente E. Caballo, Isabel C. Salazar, & Thomas H. Ollendick
  6. Integrating Play Therapy into Single-Session Behavioral Treatment for Preschool Children with Specific Phobias, Erinn N. Munro Lee, Helen Kershaw, & Lara J. Farrell

III. Posttraumatic Anxieties

  1. Play-Based Interventions for Children Traumatized by Dealing with Natural and Human-Made Disasters, Akiko J. Ohnogi
  2. Helping Sexually Abused Children Overcome Anxiety: A Play-Based Integrative Approach, Andrea Driggs McLeod

Appendix: Helpful Bibliotherapy Books


"Provides a plethora of thoughtful and effective techniques to incorporate into play therapy practice. As a play therapy supervisor and trainer, I recommend this book as a go-to manual to expand therapists' understanding of how anxiety manifests in children and what play-based interventions are most helpful. Of particular interest are the multiple ways in which parents are included as an integral part of the interventions. This book will have a prominent place in my play therapy library."
- Susan M. Carter, PhD, LP, RPT-S, private practice, Kalamazoo, Michigan

"With fear, anxiety, and phobias so prevalent in the lives of children, this volume is welcome and timely. Drewes and Schaefer have brought together seasoned international experts and have structured their chapters along a helpful continuum, from developmentally normative fears to more intensive and complex anxiety disorders and posttraumatic issues. The detailed case studies foreground the individual styles and coping strategies of children and families and remind us of the critical role of parent involvement in treatment success. This valuable resource hones in on how to support children in learning to tolerate and move around or through their emotional distress."
- Mary Anne Peabody, EdD, LCSW, RPT-S, Social and Behavioral Sciences Program, University of Southern Maine

"This wonderful book enables the clinician to engage fearful children, conceptualize the roots of their distress, and provide age-appropriate play-based interventions. The benefits of early intervention and an understanding of neurobiology are highlighted. As a training provider, I was delighted to find simple techniques that parents can be taught, as well as cohesive approaches for implementation by psychotherapists. The book emphasizes the need for informed, integrated clinical decision making rather than reliance on random techniques or a single model when treating children with complex mental health issues. It should be read and referred to regularly by all play therapists and play therapy trainees."
- Eileen Prendiville, ECP, Course Director, The Children’s Therapy Centre, Ireland