HSO725 - Therapeutic Medical Play


2023 unit information

Enrolment modes: Trimester 2: Online
Credit point(s): 1
EFTSL value: 0.125
Cohort rule:

Must be enrolled in H605,H505,H706 or E606

Assumed knowledge:

The unit assumes students have already completed foundational study at an undergraduate level and / or have experience working with children and families. .



Corequisite: Nil
Study commitment

Students will on average spend 150 hours over the trimester undertaking the teaching, learning and assessment activities for this unit.

Scheduled learning activities - online

Online independent and collaborative learning activities including 4 x 1 hour scheduled online seminars

Online student consultations times will be offered throughout the trimester.


The unit is designed for students who wish to expand their knowledge of therapeutic medical play to support children and adolescents in health, educational and /or community settings. Students are required to integrate the therapeutic powers of play and bio-psycho-social theories that inform therapeutic medical play and discuss the psychosocial impacts on children and adolescents in relation to medical conditions, illnesses, diseases, injuries, and trauma. The therapeutic powers of play are explored and integrated with selected clinical simulations and interventions to developmentally sequence and enhance communication when words alone are insufficient. Students will be introduced to a range of therapeutic medical play and creative arts-based approaches to help children and adolescents make sense of their health experiences.


As an online-based learning environment this unit is designed to provide knowledge of child and adolescent medical play, including the application of therapeutic powers of play within medical literature and how to engage in therapeutic communication. Case scenarios will be integrated to simulate medical play assessments and therapeutic techniques. Students will be introduced to a range of specific play materials and creative resources to engage children and adolescents in therapeutic medical play. Students will learn about simplifying medical language and translate scientific knowledge into age-appropriate plain language.

Recommended texts


American Psychological Association (2019) Publication Manual. 7th edition. American Psychological Association.

Cattanach, A. (2008). Narrative approaches in play with children. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Hart, Robyn & Rollins, Judy (2011) Therapeutic Activities for Children and Teens Coping with Health Issues. Hoboken NJ. John Wiley & Sons, ISBN-13: 978-0470555002

Kuttner, Leora (2010) A Child in Pain: What Health Professionals Can Do to Help ISBN-13: 978-1845904364

Murray, S. (2021). The Therapeutic Use of Stories in Play Therapy. In H.G.  Kaduson & C. E. Schaefer (Eds.), Play therapy with children: Modalities for change. (pp.TBC). American Psychological Association.

Prendiville, E. (2014). The therapeutic touchstone. In J. Howard & E. Prendiville (Eds.), Play therapy today: contemporary practice with individuals, groups, and carers (pp.7-28). Routledge.

Prendiville, E. & Parson, J. A. (2021) Clinical applications of the therapeutic powers of play: Case studies in child and adolescent psychotherapies. Routledge ISBN-9780367341091

Ray, Dee. (2016) A therapist’s guide to child development: The extraordinary normal years. New York: Routledge. ISBN: 978-1138828971

Rubin, Lawrence. C. (Ed) (2018) Handbook of medical play therapy and child life: Interventions in clinical medical settings. New York: Routledge. ISBN-13: 978-1138690004

Schaefer, C. E. & Drewes, A. (2014) Therapeutic powers of play: 20 core agents of change. (2nd ed.). Hoboken. NJ: Wiley

Taylor de Faoite, A, Prendiville, E., & Fraser, T. (2017). Telling Tales. Weaving new neural networks. In J. Howard & E. Prendiville (Eds.), Creative psychotherapy: applying the principles of neurobiology to play and expressive arts-based practice (pp.171-184). Routledge.

Taylor de Faoite, A. (2011). Narrative play therapy: theory and practice. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Thompson, Richard. (2018) The Handbook of Child Life: A Guide for Pediatric Psychosocial Care 2nd Edition Charles C Thomas Publisher Ltd. ISBN-13: 978-039809212

Webb, Nancy Boyd (2009) Helping Children and Adolescents with Chronic and Serious Medical Conditions: A Strengths-Based Approach. John Wiley & Son. Hoboken, NJ. ISBN-13: 978-0470371398

Unit Fee Information

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