Making Room for Play: An innovative Intervention for Toddlers and Families Under Rocket Fire

Esther Cohen*, Ruth Pat-Horenczyk, Dafna Haar-Shamir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Evidence from both clinical reports and empirical research suggests that symbolic play may help heal children’s traumas. Playfulness, an enduring individual characteristic, also contributes to resilience. However, trauma often sabotages children’s ability to engage in imaginary play and parents’ ability to be involved in playful interactions with their young children. This paper describes an innovative preventive group-intervention program by the name of NAMAL (Hebrew acronym for Let’s Make Room for Play), designed for mothers and their toddlers who live under the chronic stress of recurrent missile attacks in Israel. The major objective of the program is to bolster children’s resilience by enhancing their playful interactions with their mothers. The theme and activities of each session are organized around a saying with a relational or developmental message. Reports collected from 70 mothers after their participation in the program highlighted the success of the intervention and the changes in the children and parents, as well as in their interactions with each other. Follow-up interviews conducted a year after the intervention provided further information on the long-term positive effects of the program.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)336-345
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Social Work Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2013, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Dyadic group program
  • Mother–child interaction
  • Play and playfulness
  • Preventive intervention
  • Resilience
  • Toddlers
  • Traumatic stress


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