Play therapists have become sensitized to interpersonal trauma and its varied presentations and consequences. Children who experience frightening and painful medical procedures may become traumatized by these experiences. Personnel working in inpatient medical facilities are presumably familiar with emotional and behavioral presentations of pediatric medical trauma. However, underlying pediatric medical trauma may be overlooked in outpatient play therapy settings. This article describes the clinical case of a young child whose relatively severe emotional and behavioral problems masked medical trauma. Examples of thematic play sessions are presented to illustrate the child’s underlying trauma and the process of play therapy that led to considerable improvement. The importance of the play therapy relationship is emphasized. Play therapists are encouraged to consider the presence of pediatric medical trauma when assessing young children
with histories of medical intervention.
Identify multiple examples of post-traumatic and abreactive play in children suffering from medical trauma.
Compare the similarities and differences between PTSD and PTMS.
Discuss how pediatric medical stress can be identified in young children who are brought to outpatient play therapy for services.