The Function of Play for Coping and Therapy with Children Exposed to Disasters and Political Violence

Esther Cohen, Reuma Gadassi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: The objectives were to identify specific characteristics and patterns of children’s play following events of political violence or disasters, examine their associations with risk and resilience, and explore their implications for preventive and therapeutic intervention. Recent Findings: Patterns of individual, dyadic, and social play are associated with measures of children’s adaptation following collective traumatic events. Modifying the traditional child-centered play therapy, by integrating CBT principles or including parents, may increase efficacy. Summary: Preventive interventions in the aftermath of collective traumatic events must address children’s need to play in safe spaces, with the support of significant adults. Recognizing that posttraumatic play is a multifaceted phenomenon implies the need for more individualized play therapy models, varying in level of therapist’s activity and techniques employed. Research is needed to clarify the validity of play measures for assessing adaptation and to study the effectiveness of integrative play-based models.

Original languageEnglish
Article number31
JournalCurrent Psychiatry Reports
Issue number5
StatePublished - 5 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Collective traumatic events
  • Family-based play interventions
  • Play therapy
  • Play-based community interventions
  • Posttraumatic play
  • Risk and resilience


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