‘The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct’ – Carl Jung
Play is at the heart of child psychotherapy. The child’s therapy room is often built around a treasure trove of figurines, arts and crafts, soft toys, clay, musical instruments and sand trays. From an integrative approach, these objects can offer young people all sorts of things; safety, joy, connection, relationship. They undoubtedly promote metaphor and symbolism and provide a means for communication that can give voice to what may have been unsayable.
Play is not only an essential part of social, emotional, intellectual and physical development. It also enables children to make sense of things. Play and the arts help them to find their words through images and gradually open up an often meaningful exploration into feelings, thoughts, imagination and creativity.
Child Psychotherapy has to do with two or more people playing together. This play between the therapist and client (or clients) can sidestep any verbal barriers. It has the capacity to alter, transform, and essentially recreate body and mind. The metaphors that children invent through the act of art making and play enable them to safely find a way to move in and out of possibility. They can begin to make sense of what might have felt too overwhelming, too painful or too worrying.
Play promotes curiosity and gently builds upon confidence, self-worth and self-esteem. Within this free space, children can make, adapt, test, break, crush and change their play and begin to develop and understand the many parts of who they are, who they hope to be and how they see others. The colours and textures of play enable children to make art with purpose. It provides them with an opportunity to express, understand and integrate emotions and thoughts. In essence, playing is communication. So much is learned through this innate ability to imagine and create.