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Play and mental health

Play can act as a powerful tool for protecting our mental health - at any age! Find out more below about PEDAL’s projects which focus on the relationship between play and mental health.

Play therapy and children's mental health

Sydney’s PhD project is working to tell a story of three different intersections of the topics of child-centred play therapy, trauma, and excluded perspectives. Each project works with different methods, different populations, and utilises her expertise as a play therapist in her academic work.

1) Child-Centred Play Therapy & Trauma, a systematic review 

This systematic review evaluates how individual child-centred play therapy has been used to support trauma healing across the globe. A small number of studies exist, allowing a critical analysis to support creating a strong foundation for future play therapy research.

2) Child-Centred Play Therapy & Children’s Perspectives, a sand tray study

This creative methods study plans to explore the perspective of children who have experienced trauma and been in play therapy. It seeks to hear, from children themselves, why play therapy ‘works’, using a sand tray. This method allows children to engage in research in a developmentally appropriate way using play.

3) Trauma & Play Therapists’ Perspectives, a digital survey

Following the world’s renewed attention towards children’s play during the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent lockdowns, this study seeks the perspectives of a subset mental health professionals who have unique insights into play: play therapists.

It will explore how the pandemic has changed play therapy playrooms, the impact of surviving an ongoing pandemic on children’s mental health from their professional perspective, and if this group of professionals views the COVID-19 pandemic as a collective traumatic event.

  • To learn more about Sydney’s work, visit her website
  • Read Sydney’s first playful engagement with publishing in academia, titled Encanto and Intergenerational Trauma, here