A two-day international conference on the theme of “Enhancing Resiliency in Children and Practitioners: Play Therapy Practice, Education and Research” was successfully concluded on 2nd September 2023. In the closing ceremony, chairpersons or representatives of eight world professional play therapy associations have shared challenges and opportunities of play therapy and their work to promote children’s resilience in their countries. They are Ms. Josephine Martin from the Australasia Pacific Play Therapy Association, Ms. Sarah Hickson from British Association of Play Therapy, Dr. Sharon Wong from the Hong Kong Academy of Play Therapy, the British Association of Play Therapy, Ms. Abigail Lee from the Association for Play Therapy (Singapore), Dr. Akiko OHNOGI from the Japan Association for Play Therapy, the Taiwan Play Therapy Association, Ms. Lucy Bowen from National Association for Play Therapy India, Prof. Sue Bratton from the International Consortium of Play Therapy Associations and the Hong Kong Psychological Society Ltd (HKPS).

Hosted by Hong Kong Shue Yan University, the Conference brought together more than 80 esteemed local and overseas academics and professionals in the field of play therapy to share contemporary developments in research and practice, while addressing the challenges in adapting play therapy practice to the cultural context of Hong Kong. Many of our friends of our partner universities have also joined this event and shared with us their wonderful work with children, such as Dr. FAN Jingyi from Wuhan University, Prof. CHEN Jingying from Central China Normal University and Prof. YUE Xiaodong from Capital Normal University.

Group Photo of Post-conference Workshop provided by Prof. Sue Bratton from University of North Texas.

The Conference also marked the first year of Hong Kong’s first locally developed professional Master’s training programme in play therapy at Hong Kong Shue Yan University. Launched in September 2022, the programmerun by the Department of Counselling and Psychology aims to establish play therapy training and research as a recognized professional discipline in local communities. The pioneering cohort of students has completed their first year of study. Some of them participated and provided their assistance to this international play therapy conference. Master of Social Sciences in play therapy Year 2 student Ms. Chan Lai Teng, Angela won forher creative and wonderful work of the Conference brochure, bags, souvenirs and the beautiful backdrops.

HKSYU research and academic units, including the Department of Counselling and Psychology, Mrs Dorothy Koo and Dr Ti Hua Koo Centre for Interdisciplinary Evidence-based Practice and Research (CIEBPR), the Graduate House, the Play Therapy Research and Practice Center, and the Psychological Lab Studio of Arts and Creativity, were co-organizers of the event. The event, including the pre-conference and post-conference workshops, was jointly organized by the Asian Professional Counselling and Psychology Association, the Australasia Pacific Play Therapy Association and the Hong Kong Academy of Play Therapy. Despite the Super Typhoon Saola, the Conference was held successfully on Zoom Webinars.

In her officiating speech, HKSYU Senior Vice President Professor Catherine Sun Tien-lun said the University has consistently recognized the crucial role of play therapy in helping children develop their inner strength and self-esteem. “This conviction on our part has led to the development of a professional master’s training program.”

Prof. Sun said the conference was organized to serveas a platform to gather all knowledgeable and passionate audience “who believe in play therapy as a valuable approach” that can provide children with a safe and supportive environment to express themselves, develop their emotional regulation skills, and build resilience. “We are here to advance our knowledge, refine our skills, and continue crafting innovative techniques to better meet the evolving needs of young minds,” she added.

Prof. Sun also thanked the overseas speakers and presenters for joining the event from around the globe.

They included two keynote speakers, Professor Sue Bratton, Director Emerita from the Center for Play Group Photo of Post-conference Workshop provided by Prof. Sue Bratton from University of North Texas.

Therapy of the University of North Texas, and Dr. Judi Parson, Discipline Leader for Play Therapy in the School of Health and Social Development at Deakin University. Prof. Bratton delivered a lecture on “Understanding and using the Evidence-based for Play Therapy”, while Dr. Parson’s keynote lecture was titled “Development of Resiliency in Children through Play Therapy”. Sarah Hickson, Vice Chair of the British Association of Play Therapy, was alongside Dr. Parson to conduct at the pre-conference workshop entitled “Creative and Integrative Ways to Connect Children and Adolescents to Their Stor y” on August 31. Prof. Bratton also presented at the post-conference workshop entitled “The Power of Involving Parents/ Families In the Play Therapy Process to Facilitate The Child’s Healing” on September 3.

The two-day Conference covered a broad spectrum of topics in six themes relevant to child work and contemporary play therapy practice, namely Resilience in Children and Family, Children with Special Needs or Trauma, Technology and Advance in Play Therapy, Professional Development of Play Therapists and Resilience of Practitioners during the Pandemic, Play Therapy Education and Super vision, and Evidence-based Effectiveness Studies in Play Therapy.

Dr Patrick Connolly of the Department of Counselling & Psychology has been awarded funding by the Research Grants Committee to offer a conference focused on Play Therapy during the summer of 2024. The title of that Conference is: ‘Advances in Play Therapy Research: An Intercultural Dialogue’ and will highlight play therapy work by both international and local researchers and practitioners. The International Play Therapy Conference in 2024 will carry the torch and continue the international dialogue, exchange and collaboration in play therapy in the coming year.

Due to adverse weather brought by Super Typhoon Saola, the Conference went online and was conducted on Zoom Webinars.



Cover Photo:Group Photo of Pre-conference Workshop provided by Dr. Judi Parson from Deakin University and Ms. Sarah Hickson from British Association of Play Therapists.



Source: Autumn 2023 Issue