How does experiential play therapy heal?

The game is not an imitation of real life, it is a distorted form to fit the child’s life, altered as if it were. In this environment, the child makes his dreams come true, creates the situations he wants, takes on new roles, and develops imaginary relationships. Children cannot express their emotions like adults, they cannot think about their emotions in detail, instead they reflect those emotions in their behaviors in various environments and ways.

What does the game bring to the child?

Just as life contains stressors for us adults, it contains elements that create stress and tension for children. These elements are stored in the child’s body as an energy that creates anxiety and tension. The game is the most important tool for the release of this accumulated tension and the expression of emotions.

The child feels happiness and excitement in the game, gains the ability to get used to real life, develops imagination, acts flexible and improvised, increases communication with the outside world and other people, spends more physical energy, develops personality, learns to share, gets to know himself, develops empathy, what they realize what they can and cannot do, learn to compromise, identify with their own gender, learn to take risks, learn to solve their problems, gain the ability to express themselves, experience events without reward and punishment, gain discipline and take the first steps towards a democratic life.

What is Experiential Play Therapy?

Experiential play therapy is a form of play therapy developed by Byron NORTON and Carol NORTON. It is the result of the integration and development of child-centered play therapy and relational play therapy. Experiential play therapy has many uses; It is an effective therapy method for all problems such as trauma, excessive irritability and anger problems, bed wetting and soiling, school problems, sleep and eating disorders, impulsivity, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, masturbative behaviors, and excessive shyness.

To What Age Range Is Experiential Play Therapy Applied?

Experiential play therapy is applied to all children between the ages of 2-11. There are many factors that affect the duration of therapy. This period is affected by the type of problem experienced by the child and the frequency of sessions.

How Does Experiential Play Therapy Work?

Experiential play therapy is based on the hypothesis that children perceive the world through experience, not cognitively. Children know better than anyone how to put their fear, pain and anxiety into play. That’s why experiential play therapy is child-centered. In the play therapy room, the child can turn to any game and toy he wants, write the scenario he wants and enter the role he wants. It is the child who directs the game. If the child wants to include the therapist in the play he/she has constructed, then the therapist enters the game. He fulfills the role given by the child.

The playroom for the child is considered a “safe zone”. The expectation of the child from this room is “trust” and “acceptance”. If these two elements are provided, the child feels free in the playroom and completes all phases comfortably. Experiential play therapy consists of stages and it is not possible to go through these stages without a therapist.

The most important task of the therapist in experiential play therapy is to establish a relationship with the child. The therapist, who establishes a solid relationship with the child during therapy, performs other duties better. One of these tasks is to interpret metaphors. Metaphors are the doors to the real world of the child. It presents sections about the child’s choice of toys in the game, the roles he enters, the scenarios he attributes to the therapist, the traumas he experiences and his inner world. Therefore, all these should be interpreted individually.

Another duty of the therapist is to reflect the emotions experienced by the child in real life. For example, when a child who has fears about hospitals and medical processes becomes a doctor and gives an injection to the therapist during play therapy, the therapist may respond as “Oh I’m so scared, this needle will hurt me a lot”. In this way, the therapist revives an experience that gives the child fear and anxiety in real life and enriches the experience. As the experience becomes richer, the problem and inner tension that the child brings to the therapy room resolves itself.

As a result; Thanks to imagination, the unhappy consciousness regains what it has lost and thus feels the world again as its home. Remember; It is very important to be able to resolve negative life experiences early without carrying them as a burden for years, in order to be happy and healthy adults/parents.

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