"He plays all day long to kill someone," a parent of a child presenting for therapy once said.
At first, such a response may cause trepidation and anxiety, especially for those starting out as a child therapist. Such a therapist may begin to think: I wonder who he is killing? For what?
The answer to this question from a practical point of view is unnecessary. It is more important to answer the question: what needs is the child meeting in this play? What does this play mean to the child?
The phenomenon of the phenomenon of play, the multifaceted nature of its functions, is shown by the number of definitions of play, which I will not quote here. After several years of conducting Play Therapy, I conclude that play is an activity in which the child can see his or her psyche, can find and try out new solutions to psychological conflicts, can create a new ending or narrative to events that he or she cannot yet describe in words. This way of understanding play emphasises its therapeutic functions for the child, who in play becomes an active creator of what is best for him.
Play for children is a form of dialogue with themselves. It is a form through which they can make insights into themselves and their emotions. Taking into account the child's cognitive development, their difficulties with language and the development of cause-and-effect thinking- play bypasses these difficulties and gives children a language to express themselves.
Some adults have the ability to mentalise. But every, average child regardless of culture has the ability to play. If a child is unable to play, then his or her therapy should first and foremost consist of restoring the ability to play so that he or she can regain contact with himself or herself.
Where is Play Therapy in this? A non-directive form of therapy creates the conditions for the child to form a safe relationship with a therapist who accepts all the child's emotions. The therapist creates the conditions in which the aforementioned child can kill and be killed in play, can see what this means for him and what the consequences might be. If the relationship is safe, the child can see if indeed this person who ?was killed? was important to him and what his loss from the world of the living means. ? "You are already alive?" cried the child, bringing the therapist back to life. After a few sessions, the game of killing turned into a game of ?healing, then the child's self-healing. And this is what it was all about, for the child to find his own way of mental health, a way that is socially acceptable and at the same time gives him the possibility to express all his feelings.
Play that does not change in 5-10 sessions may be post-traumatic, or it may be indicative of Asperger's syndrome, for example. In such a situation, it is advisable to be patient and trust the process. ?TRUST THE PROCESS?- as experienced therapists say. The child in play will create a new narrative and ending for the traumatic event, and the child with ZA will discover what is usually hidden from him- or herself.