Child-Centered Play Therapy

Play can take place in many contexts and mostly occurs when the child feels physically and emotionally safe. Play takes place in many important points such as creativity, risk taking, curiosity, flexibility, and problem solving skills. (Else, 2009) “Children playing games choose the content and purpose of their actions by following their instincts, ideas and interests in their own way, in line with their own reality”.

Play and Child Development:

It is known that play serves the developmental stages of the child in many ways. It has been proven by researches that especially naturally occurring games contribute greatly to the physical, motor, emotional, social and intellectual development of the child. The game enables children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, skills, physical, cognitive and emotional power. It is also important for healthy brain development. Neuroscience suggests that play helps build and strengthen neural pathways in the brain. (Panksepp, 2005). Another important benefit of the game is that it increases the motivation of children to learn and thus helps them to become more successful people in life. Imagination is more important than knowledge because what we understand or know is limited. Thanks to the game, children’s imagination develops and there is no limit to their imagination. Imagination covers the whole world. For this reason, it is seen that people with good imagination are more successful.

The game mostly has a link building function. Especially children who play together prefer to spend time with other people socially. In summary, children who play with their peers, parents or siblings form stronger bonds with them. As children socialize, they experience a sense of power and control. Secure and healthy attachments enable children to explore the world and stay in secure relationships. For this reason, the game greatly contributes to the developmental stages of the child in many ways.

Play Therapy

play therapy; It is a broad field of study that uses children’s natural inclinations to create an emotionally safe therapeutic environment that promotes communication, relating, expression and problem solving. (VanFleet, 2004). The game; It is the process of creating intense relationship experiences between therapists and children and adolescents. In this time, play therapy becomes the basic communication. In adult psychotherapies, the aim of these experiences is to realize the change in the primary relationships that have been disrupted during the developmental stages of the person. For children, the goal is to bring them to emotional and social functionality on a par with their developmental stage while in play. All these conditions ensure the normal developmental progress of the child.

Play therapy is an effective child therapy that helps children clarify their sense of self, regulate their problematic behaviors, and establish healthy relationships. In this therapy, children enter into a relationship with their therapist in the playroom. This relationship with the child’s therapist enables them to understand and express their difficult and painful experiences, as well as to make sense of them. The child gets to a better point in finding healthier communication channels and developing mutual relations. For this reason, play therapy also helps children in increasing resilience.

The language of the child is play. Through the game, the expert in the game room can enter the world of the child. In play therapy, the therapist adheres to 8 principles, and performs these therapies according to the following principles.

  1. Relationship building, the therapist takes care to establish a sincere and warm relationship with the child. The child in the playroom begins to trust the process with the relationship established, and a sense of dominance and confidence in the child’s own self begins to develop. The child begins to respect himself more.

  1. The therapist accepts the child as he is. Children are used to being guided by adults. In the playroom, the therapist accepts the child as he is, and it is different for the child. This approach of the therapist significantly increases the self-confidence of children, especially.

  1. Allow freedom. When the therapist allows freedom in the playroom, the child becomes more open to expressing their feelings. In this way, the emotions that cause the child’s behavior problems are also revealed.

  1. The therapist takes care to understand the child’s feelings and to interpret these feelings to the child in a way that the child gains insight.

  1. The therapist does not give any direction to the child in the playroom. The therapist often follows the child’s directions. In this section, the child’s leadership feelings are supported. It is aimed to instill a sense of competence for children who feel inadequate during the learning process. Children are happy when they experience a sense of competence.

  1. The therapist especially respects the child’s problem-solving skills. This gives the child the responsibility of making choices and initiating change. In addition to this situation, parents often tend to solve their children’s problems. This situation activates the children’s feelings of dependency and inadequacy.

  1. The therapist does not try to rush the therapy process. The child in the playroom begins to form his personality, tries to understand how to relate to other individuals, so the child needs time and acceptance in order to complete this process in a healthy way. For this reason, play therapy cannot be rushed.

  1. The therapist makes the necessary limitations in the playroom in order to establish the connection between therapy and the real world and to make the child aware of his responsibilities. Children feel anxious and insecure if adults do not set good boundaries. Therefore, these feelings will lead to problematic behaviors of children.

Areas of Play Therapy

Play Therapy can be used to overcome mild, moderate and severe behavioral and emotional problems that cause parents anxiety and prevent children from reaching their potential. Children between the ages of 3 and 12 mostly benefit. Play therapy is helpful in a variety of situations, such as the following problems:

  • tic problems

  • Low self esteem

  • Family problems such as divorce or loss of a close family member

  • Natural disasters or traumatic events

  • Domestic violence, abuse or neglect

  • Anger or anxiety issues

  • School and learning problems

  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

  • Psychological effects of chronic diseases

  • Behavior problems

  • Problems with basic habits such as eating, toileting and sleeping

  • Anxiety, depression, grief process in children

  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

  • sibling jealousy

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