A case for child-centered play therapy with natural disaster and catastrophic event survivors


This article reviewed the literature regarding the use of child-centered play therapy with children who have experienced natural disasters and catastrophic events over the last 11 years. The frequency of natural disasters has increased over the last decade. Tsunamis, tornadoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes have ravaged towns, cities, and countries, leaving thousands dead. Beyond the physical injuries suffered, the survivors of these catastrophes, many of them children, often suffer emotional devastation, and profound losses of routines, friends and family, and a sense of security. Child-centered play therapy empowers children as they lead the play session with a trained adult, assisting them on their journey. This therapy modality allows the child to be in control, which is paramount for those having experienced natural disasters where they were completely helpless. The child may then begin to heal as they make sense of their trauma through their natural language of play. This article provides literature review supporting a case for child-centered play therapy for children experiencing natural disasters as well as recommendations for future research in this area.


Counseling, Leadership, and Special Education

Document Type





Child-centered play therapy, Natural disaster, Trauma

Publication Date


Journal Title

International Journal of Play Therapy