There are many different resources out there regarding how to write progress notes in play therapy. It can get really confusing when your site doesn’t align with how play therapy leaders write notes.
It personally took me months in collaboration with my supervisors in order to come up with an effective way for me to write play therapy notes at my clinic. I can happily say that my supervisors and I have created a way for me to document my child centered play therapy sessions that is aligned with agency governing our clinic, the clinic as a whole, and my child centered play therapy core. This blog post will teach you the method I use in writing my notes as a play therapist at an outpatient clinic.
There are a few things that I include in every single play therapy note that I write:
-How the child entered the session
-Pro-socials (see more about pro-social on my post How to Track Progress in Child Therapy)
-Behavioral terms regarding the therapeutic work done within the session
-Toys used in session (see more about play therapy toys on my post What Toys Do You Need for Play Therapy?)
-Themes (see more about themes at 15 Common Themes in Play Therapy )
-Any prevalent changes or consistencies from previous sessions
-How the child exited the session
All of the above mentioned aspect of a note help me in noting therapeutic progress. For example, if a child initially had difficulty transitioning into a play therapy session and now has no problem at all, it shows that the child has made progress in child therapy. Pro-socials, toys, themes, changes or consistencies from previous sessions, and how the child exited the session does the same exact thing for me.
Being that the clinic I work at focuses more on behavioral interventions versus play therapy, it is helpful for me to be able to defend my play therapy with behavioral terms. I have a whole list of terms that I use for my notes which I will share on a later post. For child centered play therapy, I almost always include the behavioral terms “emotional identification,” “identifying feelings in self,” “identifying feelings in others,” and “problem solving.”
Here is a blank example of a play therapy note I would write:
________entered the session. ________ exhibited the pro-social skills of ________. ________ worked on ________ in the context of play therapy. ________ used ________ in this writer’s office. ________’s play contained the themes of ________. ________ exited the session.
Here is a example of a play therapy note I would write:
Joey willing entered the session. Joey exhibited the pro-social skills of including this writer in the play, verbalizing during the session, cleaning up the toys, and using feelings words in session (ex. happy, sad, angry). Of prevalence was that it was Joey’s first time cleaning up the toys in session. Joey worked on emotional identification, labeling feelings in self, labeling feelings in others, and problem solving in the context of play therapy. Joey used army men, baby doll, doll house, and miniatures in this writer’s office. Joey’s play contained the themes of nurturance (taking care of the baby doll), connection (making sure this writer was paying attention to his work), aggression (army men fighting one another), and power and control (telling this writer what to do). Joey willingly exited the session.
I hope this helps you in your documentation in child therapy! Until next time, Play On!