American Journal of Dance Therapy

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 113–137 | Cite as

Becoming the Storm: Using the Energy and Imagery of Symptoms in Play Therapy to Help Children Heal

  • Dennis McCarthyEmail author


A version of this keynote lecture was presented in May of 2017 at a play therapy congress in Santiago de Compostela, Spain entitled “Play is the Way.” Santiago is the end of the famous pilgrimage trail, often called The Milky Way. From the hotel where the congress was being held, I could see pilgrims descending from a mountain pass to the famous cathedral of Santiago—the end of their journey. Some walked for over a month to arrive there—seeking transformation. I thought then how this innate longing in us as humans to realize ourselves is present even in the youngest child. It may be this impulse that makes psychotherapy possible.


What I want to talk about today is how to help children be less afraid of themselves, of that which lives within them as emotion and impulse and fantasy, in the context of an approach to psychotherapy with children that is both body centered and imagination driven and that uses play as the vehicle. Every child longs to be able to express...



Some of the material in this keynote appeared in the following books published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. “If You Turned into a Monster…” Transformation through Play, A Body-Centered Approach to Play Therapy, 2007 and A Manual of Dynamic Play Therapy—Helping Things Fall Apart, The Paradox of Play, 2012.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declared that he has no conflict of interest. All images are printed with permission.

Ethical Approval

All case material has been altered to render the individuals unrecognizable. This article meets the necessary ethical standards. It does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any authors.


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  3. Reich, W. (1986). The function of the orgasm. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© American Dance Therapy Association 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.KingstonUSA

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