Play Therapy Technique for Play Therapist to use for Clients dealing with a Custody Battle

by Play Therapy Custody Battle Team
(Atlanta, Ga.)

Play Therapy Idea for clients in a custody battle.

Play Therapy Idea for clients in a custody battle.

Play Therapy: The Custody Battle – Assignment # 1

Client: Female elementary student who is siding with the mother
Therapeutic Approach:
Part 1: Exploration of Feelings
Using the genogram, we propose allowing the client to select miniatures to reflect the mother, father and herself. During the exercise, we would help the child in play therapy to explore her feelings toward her parents by asking the following questions/statements:
• What made you pick the dog miniature for your father?
• The dog doesn’t look very nice.
• I see you picked two miniatures for mom. The mom is smiling.
• Why did you pick the turtle? I see he is smiling too.
• Did you know turtles move really slow but make a lot of progress? They are very patient creatures. Is your mom patient?
Part 1B: Living with Each Parents
We will have the child move the miniature of herself depicting if she was to live with her dad and have her process what that would be like. Next, we will have the child move the miniature depicting if she was to live with the mother and process what that would look like. Markers are provided in case the child wants to draw additional pictures or select more miniatures to depict the change in living with each parent.
Part 2: Orientation of Courtroom
This part of the play therapy court room custody battle session would be focused on what the client can expect to see in the courtroom. Using the miniatures the client select in Part 1, we would have the client explore the courtroom that we have constructed.
The following topics will be discussed using the courtroom that was designed:
• What is a courtroom?
• What are the rules we must follow in a courtroom?
• What are the roles of the judge, lawyers, court reporter and deputy sheriff?
• Discuss where she can expect her parents to be sitting

Part 3: Truth versus Lie

This part of the play therapy session would be a role play activity where we have crafted 5 questions that are broad and progressive in nature to teach the child the difference between telling the truth and telling a lie. The purpose of this activity is to teach the client the importance of being honest when on the stand. The client has stated that she prefers to live with her mom. Given this preference, we don’t want the client to feel the need to tell an untruth regarding the father.

The questions are written on colorful index cards so that appears less intimidating. We have implemented a reward system by earning stickers for each question that is answered by telling the truth. We start out by asking the client the questions. On the next round, the client will ask the counselor the questions. The counselor will intentionally answer some questions incorrectly to demonstrate the negative consequence of not answering truthfully. This exercise also prepares the client to being examined and cross examined by the attorneys and judge.

The questions are:
1. When does the moon come out?
2. What color is grass?
3. How many finger s are on your right hand?
4. What is your favorite ice cream?
5. What is something you like doing?

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Disclaimer: This website and its content is intended for trained licensed mental health professionals and school certified mental health professionals to use for their clients / students at their own discretion.

*If you ignore the disclaimer above are using these techniques on yourself and you feel any discomfort or upset it is highly suggested that you seek out a licensed  mental health professional immediately.

"Beyond Art Therapy" is the concept from Dr. Stangline that combines all creative fields in therapy. It is not the traditional "art therapy" but goes beyond to include sand tray therapy, play therapy, mindfulness, meditation, color therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and a vast majority of other therapies.

For any other type of mental health emergency call your local 911 / Police Number immediately.

Dr. Stangline does not offer advice / suggestions to anyone who is not a professional mental health provider, or a student who is studying this field and has questions about mental health programs of study.

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