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Axline's Principles of Non-Directive Play Therapy


Much of current play therapy practice is based upon Virginia Axline’s work. Her set of principles of non-directive play therapy were based on the person-centred approach of psychologist Carl Rogers

The therapist:

  • Must develop a warm and friendly relationship with the child.

  • Accepts the child as she or he is.

  • Establishes a feeling of permission in the relationship so that the child feels free to express his or her feelings completely.

  • Is alert to recognise the feelings the child is expressing and reflects these feelings back in such a manner that the child gains insight into his/her behaviour.

  • Maintains a deep respect for the child’s ability to solve his/her problems and gives the child the opportunity to do so. The responsibility to make choices and to institute change is the child’s.

  • Does not attempt to direct the child’s actions or conversations in any manner. The child leads the way, the therapist follows.

  • Does not hurry the therapy along. It is a gradual process and must be recognised as such by the therapist.

  • Only establishes those limitations necessary to anchor the therapy to the world of reality and to make the child aware of his/her responsibility in the relationship.



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