2018 Viola Brody Award Recipient
Grace Childs, LCSW
The Florida Association
for Play Therapy
Dr. Brody’s Professional Bio
Dr. Brody was a school music teacher for 20 years prior to returning to school to pursue her Ph.D. in Psychology—she was about 45 years old. She received her educational training from the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois College of Medicine, The Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, and the Michael Reese Psychiatric and Psychosomatic Institute. In 1967, she was hired by Ann Jernberg to be the Supervisor of the Head Start program in Chicago.
Although, Dr. Brody began formulating her approach in the 1950’s, she first labeled her therapeutic model Developmental Play Therapy (DPT) during her tenure as Chief psychologist of the Child Guidance Clinic in St. Petersburg Florida in 1970. At that time, she was also an Adjunct Professor at the University of South Florida and later in her career at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg. In 1974 that she received a grant from the U.S. Office of Education to offer the DPT group program to the school system for early elementary she children (over a ten-year period this program saw over 1000 children).
In 1992, she published her seminal book: The Dialogue of Touch: Developmental Play Therapy. As Director of the Developmental Play Training Associates, Dr. Brody trained many therapist’s in Developmental Play Therapy over the years at various locations in the U.S., Canada, Ireland and London.
Florida Association for Play Therapy
Viola Brody Award
Since 2005, the Florida Association for Play Therapy has honored an outstanding Florida Play Therapist at the FAPT Annual Conference with the Viola Brody Award. Viola Brody, PhD is considered a pioneer in play therapy who developed, a theoretical approach called, Developmental Play Therapy.
About Developmental Play Therapy
Developmental Play Therapy is an in-depth psychological theory that includes the development of the child’s core self (the sense of “I” – that starts with body awareness), the core self, with self-agency (authorship of own action), and self-coherence (self is locus of integrated action). Dr. Brody postulated that a child’s play gives form and meaning to past experiences in the present through a dialogue of safe, caring touch.
Dr. Brody’s basic premise is that children who experience nurturing physical affection and caring touch feel safe and that responding to the child’s invitations for caring touch in developmental play sets in motion this dialogue of touch. The therapeutic efficacy of caring touch and developmental play is in the application - safely, with honor and respect for the child. She further advocated that a child’s play gives form and meaning to past experiences in the present through a dialogue of safe, caring touch.
Developmental play therapy is an effective method for creating sensory attunement, emotional engagement, and secure attachment through physical affection, sensory-motor play interactions, human touch, music and body movement.
(Written by Ken Schwartzenberger, LCSW, RPT-S and Janet A. Courtney, PhD, RPT-S)