The story of the successful use of play therapy
with an emotionally disturbed child named Dibs.
Abandonment, Art of
Medicine, Children, Doctor-Patient Relationship,
Father-Son Relationship, Human Worth, Loneliness,
Mental Illness, Mother-Son Relationship, Patient
Experience, Professionalism, Psychotherapy.)
An educational and therapeutic tale told in the first
person by the author, Virgina Axline. The story is
unusually engaging in part because Dibs himself is an
extraordinary human being, not only a mistreated innocent.
He is five, and is very withdrawn; resisting his
teachers' attempts to engage him. Dibs' parents and
teachers had basically given him up as mentally retarded,
and Axline is brought in as a last resort. In a series
of play therapy sessions over a period of several months,
she cures him. Axline takes an emotionally neutral
approach to the patient, in spite of his obvious need
for emotional support, in order not to interfere with
his discovering of the self that had been severely
repressed at home.
This book is particulary interesting as Axline is the
originator of play therapy, and we can read her notes
as Dibs emerges as a genius whose precocious (verbatim)
words are amazingly accurate and heartbreakingly
expressive of his shifting thoughts and feelings
in the various stages of therapy.
In addition to this is the emotional distance Axline
maintains with this obviously love-starved child,
understanding that what the patient needs is to find
himself by himself and in ways that are satisfying to
him without the confusion of adult approval.
This book is a lucid portrait of a little boy
achieving, under therapy, a successful struggle for identity.
Pays to keep your Lit notes...