In my last posting (Play Therapy Series Part 1: Practising in Singapore), I shared the challenges in practicing play and expressive arts therapy in Singapore. With this posting, I will highlight the historical development of play therapy in Singapore based on the best of my knowledge. This will give you an overview of the practice and development of play therapy in Singapore – the pioneers, and their journey.
In my previous post, I shared the concept and definition on resilience. Defined as the ability to recover quickly from setbacks and adversity, resilience is a powerful capability in the face of the challenges that life can throw at us. Review of current literature, though not exhaustive, highlighted three recurring factors that seem to set resilient children (and people) apart from others. Let’s take a look at them to understand why and how they respond when the "rubber hits the road".
Loving and nurturing relationships
Research showed that a resilient child has a healthy social support network where attachment with a supportive caregiver, parent, teacher, or other mentor-like figure helps facilitate a positive view of self and a stronger sense of confidence in one’s abilities and strengths. The neurobiology studies have consistently demonstrated that the quality of earliest relationships with primary caregivers play a fundamental role in shaping the child's very brain structure. Loving and nurturing parents are setting the physical brain infrastructure for the child's lifelong ability to relate to others and to cope with stress and difficulties. With the perception that she can trust the world, and that she is accepted and respected, the child grows up more secure, competent and confident. Because there are people who believe in her, she in turn builds the ability and confidence to believe in herself.
So what does a loving and nurturing relationship with your child looks like? Some parenting experts raised the importance of attachment focused kinds of parenting such as being patient, encouraging and positively supportive towards our children whilst opponents have emphasized the importance of discipline and tough love. How can we as parents balance between being nurturing and yet being tough? Amy Chua famously brought this debate into focus with her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. In a Singapore Children’s Society study, researchers found that children enjoyed good relationships with their parents even agreeing that scolding and punishment by their parents are acceptable and just. This suggested that as Singaporean parents, we can strike a delicate balance between maintaining a loving relationship while providing the necessary structure and boundaries that a child needs for developing their self control and responsibilities.
As Singaporean parents, we can and must seek to strike a delicate balance between establishing a nurturing environment while providing adequate discipline.
Our children are inevitably exposed to attendant stressors, experienced anxiety and the weight of expectations...So how can parents help their children become resilient and thrive in this ever challenging environment like Singapore?
In today's fast-paced, stressful society, our children encounter various challenges in and out of school. Parents want their children to succeed and grow up happy, and typically their well-intentioned efforts are focused on the academic end of the equation - to the tune of S$1.1billion spent on tuition a year in Singapore. A questionable focus? Perhaps, although it is quite understandable because academic achievement is very often the most tangible issue that parents can 'deal' with.
But the stresses of a fast-paced environment like Singapore do take their toll. Even in the absence of any significant difficulties or trauma, our children are inevitably exposed to attendant stressors, experienced anxiety and the weight of expectations. Collectively, these can put immense pressure on young developing minds. So how can parents help their children become resilient and thrive in this ever challenging environment like Singapore?
Play therapy in Singapore is still in its infancy stages and hence, is experiencing challenges as well as exciting opportunities. The challenges in training, professional development, research and professional accreditation, when adequately addressed albeit arduous, would provide a nurturing and fertile ground for growth.
Dr. Seuss in Oh, the Places You'll Go shared that "It takes courage to play in a world that does not play." Indeed, it probably would take similar courage to practice Play Therapy in Singapore, given that the therapeutic use of play and play therapy are still in its infancy stage. In the next three entries, I will share with you the challenges and opportunities in practicing Play Therapy in Singapore.
In the West, Play therapy is one of the empirically proven psychological treatment modalities that are beneficial to children facing a wide spectrum of problems (Bratton et al., 2005). Originally conceived in Europe as an extension of Freudian psychoanalysis to children, play therapy as a discipline has developed its theoretical basis in the United States, with pioneering works by, for example, Virginia Axline (1950) and Haim Ginott (1961). Today, the growth of this discipline is evident both in the expanding membership of professional associations (e.g., the Association for Play Therapy [APT] in the United States or the Play Therapy International [PTI] in United Kingdom) and in its wide recognition among mental health professionals in the West.
A warm welcome from us at Tembusu Training & Therapy. Whether you are a practitioner of Play Therapy, a student, or a parent, we hope you will find something useful on our website about Play Therapy. If you have any feedback, suggestions or questions, do reach out to us. And if you don't want to miss out on our latest updates, do follow us via email. Meanwhile, happy reading!
UPCOMING PROFESSIONAL TRAINING: CREATIVE ARTS IN PLAY THERAPY WORKSHOP
UPCOMING PROFESSIONAL TRAINING: