Play Therapy Dibs in Search of Self

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Category: Philosophy and Psychology

Date Submitted: 09/15/2012 03:12 PM

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Written in the 1960's by Virginia M. Axline - a renowned psychologist and professor at New York University - she offers a firsthand account of Dibs, a special client whom she cures using "play therapy." The book tells a story of a child who finds his identity and overcomes terrifying obstacles, and it also gives readers insight to how play therapy works.

Dibs is a young boy who comes from an affluent family on the Upper East Side. His parents are famous surgeons and are high on the social ladder in Manhattan. He attends a private school - the only one which seems to have the ability to handle him. You see, Dibs has a very obvious problem: he is unsocial and refuses to be around people, and he often throws fits in the classroom. He has no friends, and he knows that he is an outcast. His sentences and the ways in which he expresses himself often do not make sense, despite the fact that the other students in his class can have coherent conversations rather easily.

Axline - who plays herself in this nonfiction read - decides that she would like to study Dibs' behavior and perhaps help him overcome his troubles. She manages to work with the private school and Dibs' parents - who are widely reluctant to seek help - in order to arrange weekly appointments with the child. The book mainly focuses around these appointments and the dialogue and other interactions between Dr. Axline and Dibs. Axline uses play therapy in an attempt to cure the child, and she quickly learns that he is extremely bright and has the capability to read, write, draw, and make conclusions that most children his age wouldn't be able to do. In fact, his IQ score proves that he is a genius. Over time, the relationship between the two draws close, and Axline eventually is able to help Dibs overcome his speech, thinking, and social problems. The way in which she does this is simply phenomenal, and she depicts all her strategies in the book with a clear, detailed, and coherent hand.

Axline never...