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

  • Esther Cohen
  • Reuma Gadassi
Child and Family Disaster Psychiatry (B Pfefferbaum, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Child and Family Disaster Psychiatry


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.


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.


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


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychology, Interdisciplinary CenterHerzliyaIsrael
  2. 2.School of EducationHebrew University of JerusalemJerusalemIsrael
  3. 3.Psychology DepartmentYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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