Play Therapy – Hide & Seek

Hide & Seek

Children of all ages love to play Hide & Seek. Mothers who play Peekaboo help their infant’s capacity to cope with separation.

Hide & Seek games consist of separating and reuniting. Under the guise of games, issues such as object permanence, abandonment, basic trust and the early parent/infant relationship can be worked on.  For children who have experienced attachment difficulties, trauma, anxiety and loss, Hide & Seek can be very beneficial. They doubt their worthiness to be found, yet long to be pursued. They also doubt that someone will care enough to look for them…

I worked with seven year old Jeremy for 24 sessions. He had difficulty in concentrating in class, got into trouble in the playground, and wasn’t liked by his peers. His parents had divorced and he disclosed his issues around anger to me in our sessions.

He would hide spikey plastic balls or coins in the sand tray for me to find. Then was my turn to hide the balls or coins for him to find.  This became a favourite game, he loved the interaction and the sense of delight and accomplishment he experienced at hiding them in tricky places. The safety of the therapeutic relationship gave him the security and empowerment he needed to explore unknown areas of his own self.

Warning – Hide & Seek is not for all children

For securely attached children, Hide & Seek is normally a joyful experience and in therapy can aid their unconscious needs towards healing.  But in cases of severe abuse or neglect a child may have had to hide in order not to be abused. Hiding was a means of survival and being found was a threat that meant pain and abuse. In these cases the game may still have some relevance, but the child may hide and not want to be found, or insist on being found only on their terms.

Article by Katie Hope-Cross,

Katie is a Certified Practitioner in Therapeutic Play Skills who is just completing her training as a Certified Play Therapist.

(This article, due to be published in ‘Play For Life’ has been abridged by Jeff Thomas, Registrar Play Therapy UK.)