A detailed, session-by-session account of a therapeutic intervention. Written by the therapist and detailing all the detours & blind alleys that never make it into textbook accounts of the therapeutic process.

Many clients, some famous and some not so famous, have written of their experiences in therapy. Therapists’ accounts of therapy tend to be confined to heavily anonymised snippets of conversation illustrating a particular point in therapy textbooks, or case studies in peer-reviewed journals which focus more upon the diagnosis & outcome than upon the process of intervention.

Dibs In Search Of Self is that rarest of books, an account by a therapist of every session (and the related consultations with teachers and family) of her contact with a small boy, the titular “Dibs”.

Virginia Axline is the author of Play Therapy, which outlines the application of a Rogerian, client-centred therapy approach to the psychological treatment of children. Play Therapy is heavily illustrated with the usual one paragraph snippets of conversations with clients (including Dibs), but this book describes, one chapter per session, the actions & discussions comprising each session and the therapist’s reflections on her client’s disclosures & her own actions (including her errors).

Dibs In Search Of Self is accessible to any reader and is a fascinating, moving book in its own right. It is, of course, required reading for anyone working with children. Moreover, as an insight into the mind of a therapist as a case progresses, it serves as an illustration not just of Play Therapy, but of sensitive & reflective practice with lessons for any therapist, regardless of their profession or client group. Oh, and it has a happy ending.


Axline, V (1964) Dibs: Personality Development in Play Therapy. Penguin Books Ltd

5 Responses

  1. ………I have read the book “Dibs,In Search of
    Self” and found it to be a fascinating book.I
    read the book when I was 10 years old.

  2. Luckily, i read this book when i was in the third year in medical university…It made my final score in Psychology was maximum…and i got a best therapy for the children.

  3. I found this book on the subway going to penn station as i read it i found to be entertaining i”m a construction worker working in new york city i have 3 wonderful children this book can teach parnets on what not to say to there children and what should be said i”m no phycologist ,but it did teach me alont on the potentail attitude of little children. axline showed us how brilant they can be when you dont give up on them.

  4. I found a ragged copy of “Dibs…” in New York City and I must say, this book is by far the most exceptional coming of age story I have read in quite some time. What a learning tool! What a treasure!

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