In 1947, Virginia Axline introduced professional psychotherapists to a new way of working with children called Nondirective Play Therapy. In 1964, she introduced the rest of the world to “Dibs”. Dibs is silent. Dibs is a mystery to his parents and teachers. Dibs cannot be reached no matter how hard they try. He hides under tables and lashes out at other children. Some think he’s incapable of learning and interacting in a regular classroom. Some think he’s emotionally disturbed. Everyone is desperate to fix him, except for “Miss A”.
“Miss A,” as Dibs calls her, believes that Dibs already knows the answers and can show her what he needs if she is patient enough, accepting enough, and observant enough. Dibs’ parents think she’s wasting her time trying to watch him play. He doesn’t play and he doesn’t talk. Dibs’ mother finally agrees to let Miss A try her methods, but she’s not holding her breath.
“Miss A” then introduces Dibs and us to her special play room, where children can be just exactly who they truly are. The room is not magical, but the relationship between therapist and child is. In the safety and freedom of this special relationship, we begin to see what Axline meant when she first encouraged therapists to offer children the opportunity to “play out these feelings” and “realize the power within [themselves]”.
“A ‘must read’ classic for play therapists!” — Charles E. Schaefer, PhD, RPT-S, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Fairleigh Dickinson University; Co-Founder and Director Emeritus, The Association for Play Therapy
“Dibs: In Search of Self is a timeless account of Axline as play therapist, advocate, and partner in Dibs’ therapeutic journey. I marvel at Axline’s ability to encompass multiple roles while demonstrating integration in all of her interactions; whether in the playroom, conducting classroom observations or working with Dibs’ parents. This is essential reading for play therapists, child development and counseling practitioners.” — Natalya Ann Lindo, PhD, LPC, CCPT-S, CPRT-S, Associate Professor & Counseling Program Coordinator, University of North Texas
“There are many books on play therapy theory. There are many books on play therapy techniques. There is only one book that goes beyond theory and technique, getting to the heart of what play therapy is all about. Dibs captures the depth of connection and life-changing impact that play therapy can engender between a child and a therapist.” — Nick Cornett, PhD, LPC, LMFT, RPT, Assistant Professor, John Brown University
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I had to read this for a class, and I habve to say I have nt been entranced by a book like this in a long time. It gives a great account of a child that is in search of self. And I was just grinning pretty much all the way through it.