The focus of all play-based assessments is the gathering of information from or about children as well as attempting to uncover objective/factual truths. In play-based assessments clinicians make effort to ensure they do not “contaminate” the information obtained from the child by introducing potentially leading or interpretive material into the process.
What are the benefits?
Play-based assessments allow trained clinicians to gather a wide variety of information from and about children in a relatively unobtrusive and non-threatening way. The legal system may request a play-based assessment to assist in such things as making custody and placement decisions, evaluating the impact of trauma on children and determining appropriate interventions.
What are the limitations?
There are two primary limitations to play-based assessments. One, these methods cannot always elicit specific, detailed information from the child. They are less likely to garner the detailed factual information sometimes sought by the legal system. Play therapists are sometimes less concerned with the factual accuracy of what the child says than they are with the thoughts or feelings underlying the child’s actions. For this reason, information elicited in PT is not generally used in legal decision-making.