Children cannot express a number of emotions and thoughts as well as adults, and they are often unaware of their own feelings and thoughts. Therefore, it is very difficult for them to express some things. For adults, the game is the same for children, whatever speech means. In other words, the game is a place for the child to express or discover some emotions, to convey their experiences, to satisfy themselves. In this regard, toys are the words that children want to express and the games they play.
Game therapy; It is the treatment and improvement of mental problems and behavioral problems in children through games and toys through a specialist. In other words, it is a therapy method that helps children express their feelings and problems.
In play therapy, the transfer of intense emotions or conflicts experienced by the child in his inner world to the game and toys takes place. In this case, the task of the game therapist; to accept the child as it is and provide the necessary environment for its growth and development. Play therapy can be interpreted as a relationship process established between the child and the therapist. This process gives the therapist an opportunity to understand the child’s inner world, feelings and experiences. In order to provide confidence in the environment where game therapy is applied; it is necessary to be consistent, to set a limit where necessary and to offer a number of options. Because with these limits and options, self-control and self-awareness of the child develops.
When is Game Therapy Applied?
“Play Therapy Method” is applied in some psychological problems in children between the ages of 2 and 12. The psychological problems that occur in children in this age range are as follows:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder,
- Hyperactivity and attention deficit,
- Reading disorders,
- Lack of trust,
- Abdominal and headaches with unknown cause,
- Game therapy method is applied to solve many problems such as adaptation problems after divorce.
Is Game Therapy Different from Daily Game Types?
Game for kids; they are fun, automated and voluntary actions that do not depend on external rewards. Game therapy is; It is a treatment method provided with game therapist, toys and game therapy room. The play of the child is the same in all cases, but in play therapy the play is interpreted by a qualified therapist and its healing property is emphasized. Some symbolic expressions created by the child in the game are understood through the expert game therapist. The play therapist helps the child express their inner world by starting from the game. The games that children play on a daily basis are functionally different, even if they are not different from the game they play in play therapy. In this respect, game therapy is different from the game played on a daily basis.
How Does The Game Therapy Process Work?
A child who comes to play therapy is presented with a variety of toys that will help them express their own problems. Then, a game therapist who specializes in the field encourages the child to play as he wishes by creating a safe environment for the child who comes to the therapy. Then the content, course and scenario of the game are completely under the control of the child. In this process, the child chooses the toys that best suit the emotional problems it will reflect and plays with them. The therapist participates in all the games of the child, accompanies him without limiting the child and his play and becomes part of this process. In this way, with the help of the child therapist, he relieves his negative experiences and feelings, which are quite difficult for him, and gets the chance to improve his skills by working on these problems. As the child strengthens himself / herself in the game, relief occurs in emotional distress and recovery occurs spontaneously as a result of the session.
What Benefits Does Play Therapy Bring to the Child?
Play therapy allows children to better understand and recognize their own feelings and thoughts. Children learn to express their feelings in appropriate ways to meet their needs. In addition, children of play therapy;
- Developing problem solving skills appropriately,
- To resolve their internal conflicts,
- Decreased problematic behavior,
- Increased self-confidence,
- Make their voices heard and express themselves,
- Taking responsibility for their behavior,
- It ensures the development of self-control.
What are the Materials Required for Play Therapy?
For play therapy, there should be a useful and spacious playroom with toys and materials suitable for play therapy, where the child will feel safe and peaceful. In addition, toys to be used in play therapy should allow reality and attract the attention of the child. In other words, all the toys used in game therapy should consist of real life related toys. The categories of toys used in therapy can be classified as follows:
- Real-life toys: Puppets, dolls, animals and vehicles can be any real-life toy.
- Toys that help remove aggression: Toys such as pistols, soldiers, dart games, handcuffs…
- Toys required for emotional and creative swing: toys such as sand, water, plastic blocks, paints, play dough, paper and hand puppets.