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The Play Specialist in the pediatric healthcare: Evidence-based professionalism, issues in practice, and training across different countries

Giulia Perasso

Abstract: For developmental psychologists, playing is a crucial parameter to monitor children and adolescents’ physical, emotional, cognitive, and executive development and wellbeing. In the psychotherapy setting, play is a promotor of positive therapeutic change because it allows the child to express beliefs, memories, wishes, feelings, and subconscious contents, from a safe and indirect point of view. Play is a fundamental human right during the whole life cycle, and it becomes even more important for those children and adolescents who are hospitalized or experiencing medical treatments at home (European Association for Children in Hospital, 1988). Entering a medical setting can elicit children’s and adolescents’ distress on many levels (e.g., anxiety, depression, hypochondria, acting out, externalizing, and internalizing problems) since their familiar routine is temporarily disrupted. The aim of the study. To foster scientific community consideration about the Play Specialist role, paying attention to the state of the art, the international field of practice, the evidence supporting the effectiveness of the Play Specialist intervention, the main challenges, and the everyday issue that these professionals have to face to gain proper integration in the national and international healthcare system.
Keywords: children / hospitalized / healthcare / evidence / treatments / adolescents / Play Specialist

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