The way to a child’s heart: play therapy

Play is a tool that allows the child to express himself well. Child-centered play therapy is a school of therapy that has been practiced for many years both in the USA and in European countries. According to Virginia Axline, founder of child-centered play therapy, every child has the necessary inner strength to heal themselves emotionally. In this context, the important thing is to provide an environment where the child can feel the necessary sense of trust and acceptance.

Characteristics of Child-Centered Play Therapy

In this therapy school, the leader of the game is the child; Only the child decides which toys to play with and in what way.

It is very important for the child to be free and take an active role in the playroom.

Establishing a healthy relationship of trust with the child and accepting him as he is are among the most important duties of the therapist. In this context, the therapist does not judge the child, does not criticize it, and accepts it as it is. For example; A child with a fear of the dark was asked by his family, “Why are you afraid in the dark, what is there to be afraid of the dark, now go to bed and sleep.” may encounter a backlash. The child’s fears are not accepted by the parents. The child feels quite helpless between family expectations and fears that he has difficulty coping with. But in the game room, the situation is very different. Because in this special room, a ‘game sister’ or a ‘game brother’ awaits the child, who does not underestimate their feelings and tries to understand them. Thanks to the atmosphere of trust and acceptance in the playroom, the child has the opportunity to express and resolve his inner conflicts effectively.

In therapy, every toy a child plays and every game plot has a meaning. Sometimes a toy soldier can represent the father in the child’s world. In real life, the child is free to express his anger towards his parents or the sadness and fear he feels on toys as he wishes. Because in the therapeutic process; Toys are a tool that allows children to express all the negative emotions they feel in real life.

Another important task of the therapist is; to take on the role of a mirror for the child. Play Therapist; accepts the child’s feelings and thoughts as they are and reflects them back to the child, The therapist is a good observer, reflects all the emotions that the child feels at the right moments and with the right expression; e.g; Correct reflection to be made to the child who realizes that the color red is missing from the crayons and develops a sad facial expression: ‘The lack of red color upsets you, you would like to use the color red while painting.’ or to a child who enthusiastically scatters the glass of water around, ‘You are excited to scatter water around, you really like this game.’ reflection can be made.

As the child begins to feel that they are not judged and unconditionally accepted by the therapist; his self-confidence increases and he begins to freely express his destructive feelings. As the child begins to express negative feelings, the destructive effect of these feelings gradually decreases for the child and thus emotional healing takes place.

Who and How Can It Be Applied?

Suitable for children between 3 and 10 years old.

It is usually applied once a week.

Session duration is 50 minutes.

Problems for which Child-Centered Play Therapy is Effective

Low self esteem

Behavior Problems

Anger Management Problems

Fear of Separation

School Adjustment Problems

Parent and Child Conflict

Peer Bullying

Sleeping, Eating and Toilet Problems

Nail Biting, Thumb Sucking, Hair Pulling etc.

Problems After Divorce

Emotional issues such as Anxiety and Fear

Preoccupation with sexual behavior

Somatic Problems (abdominal pain, headache, etc.)

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