WHAT IS CHILD-CENTERED PLAY THERAPY?
Imagine you are in a country where you do not speak the language.
You wandered around its streets for a bit, tried its flavors, found a few local friends you can trust, tried to tell them about your experiences with a big smile, and they smiled at you. Between those smiles, you learned a word or two and tried to talk awkwardly but happily with your friends.
Then… You started having problems. The weather got bad, you got cold and you lost your mood. You couldn’t understand what these people were talking about around you, moreover, their voices were loud and you felt in danger. You thought someone was staring at you, did they want to hurt you? No dear, it is not like that. It isn’t, is it?
You wanted to tell your local friends about your discomfort, but you can’t use their language as well as they do! You couldn’t express your discomfort with a few words you learned by accident. You wanted to show it, but these were not tangible, visible things… Your friends could not understand why you were upset, could not understand your feelings, could not console you. All these anxieties and fears grew and grew inside you…
In a country where you don’t know the language, you are stuck in uncertainty between the beauties and the evils, without being able to explain them…
That’s how our kids feel sometimes too!
Since children have not yet mastered skills such as understanding, making sense, expressing, and organizing, they cannot share the problems they experience and the discomfort they feel as easily as adults. They show this with their behavior. For example, your child suddenly starts mistreating his newborn sibling, which he is looking forward to, and says that he does not love him. In fact, he “says” with behavior, not words, that he is sad to share his parents, that he is afraid that his brother will take his place and that he will no longer be loved, that he still wants to see and feel loved. He is able to express himself through behaviors as he has just started to learn and use the expression skills that adults have mastered.
Here the game comes to our rescue. Play is like a miniature of children’s daily lives. The child repeats what he has experienced in the game, revisits, re-evaluates, expresses his feelings through toys, sees and evaluates possible results, tries to decide what to do or not to do.
Child-Centered Play Therapy reaches out to children with psychological problems from this very point! Whatever the problem he is experiencing, studies are carried out to express it through games and toys, while supporting his skills and self.
In Child-Centered Play Therapy, the child is supported by the therapist’s careful observations and appropriate comments while playing, and is accepted as it is. Thus, in this structured environment with clear boundaries and rules, the child discovers both himself and life, so to speak, by playing.
As an expert, I’ve always been fascinated to witness children express themselves and their problems through play. When we think about it, we adults sometimes pour out our hearts by “playing” with art branches such as painting, music, cinema and theater. Don’t you think it’s incredible to imagine the healing effect of play on our children, while even relaxing us?