The Discovery Game is specifically designed to help children who are resistant to involvement in play therapy and are unable to verbalize their emotions.
The Discovery Game will minimize the therapeutic process, by providing the therapist with information on what the child is thinking, thus giving insight into how the child is feeling and subsequently, how the child is acting out his feelings.
The game helps children to free themselves sufficiently to reveal previously suppressed thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
The game has been developed to help the therapist understand the child’s thought process. If the therapist understands the thought process the therapist can help the child change prevailing misconceptions. Changing the thinking of a child changes how they feel and behave.
The use of miniatures in the game helps the child talk to the therapist from the unconscious and the therapist uses the story of the child to create a corrective experience. The game is based in the cognitive behavioural therapy and mutual metaphorical story telling.
The use of the storytelling helps the therapist gain insight into the psychodynamic meanings of the child’s world.
This game can be used with children from age of four to adulthood.
The Role of Play
Children use play and games as a means of recreating activities and social roles which they see around them. Through play, children learn to come to terms with issues and people in their envireonment.
Games have rules and can be cathartic, self-revealing and intructive in nature. But games are also fun. It is through the fun aspect of games that children reveal information that they normally would not share. Children’s play comes from the unconscious and game play helps children to reveal information from the unconscious.
Play is the language of the child. Therefore playing games, and acquiring information from children in the process, is a natural way of learning about children’s feelings.
There are a number of ways in which games help children. Through games, children develop more adequate coping behaviours, develop self-awareness, build confidence and learn about social roles. Games may be used as projective assessment tools, by allowing the fantasy aspect of a child to emerge and also allowing for certain emotional issues to be confronted. (Crocket and Wroblewski; 1975)
The expressions revealed in game play provide the therapist with insight into the feelings and thought of children.
“Games, like therapeutic approaches serve the therapeutic purpose of bypassing the super ego by speaking to the ego. In games the child and therapist carry out a traumatic exchange of unconscious and sub conscious material in a structural, highly interactive fashion” (Garderner; 1971)
Play therapy is a therapy technique that integrates cognitive behavioural interventions with other forms of therapy. Therapists believe that children can learn to change their own behaviour if they learn to change their thoughts about an issue. Issues of control, mastery and responsibility are introduced by the threapist for the child to assess. When children change adaptive beliefs, they experience a sense of personal understanding and empowerment.
Dysfunctional behaviours in children and adults are linked with dysfunctional thinking. The cognitive approach also helps children to develop the language to express their feelings and thoughts.
The benefits of Cognitive Behaviour Play Therapy are varied. Play Therapy involves the child in treatment and allows the threapist to communicate directly with the child. It focuses on the child’s thoughts, feelings, fantasies and environment while providing strategies for developing more adaptive thoughts and behaviours. The structured, directive, goal orientated, rather open-ended nature of play therapy allows for the incorporation of empirically demonstrated techniques and for an empirical examination of treatment. (Knell; 1993 a,b)
Rules of the Game
The game is played by both the child and the therapist. The object of the game is for the therapist to gain as much information as possible from the child while sharing enough of the therapist so as to encourage the child to talk.
The winner of the game is the one that accumulates the greatest number of chips between the start and finish point. The winner is declared after all the players have reached the finish line.
The game begins with each player placing their piece on the start line. The sets of cards, miniature toys and chips are placed in the designated areas on the board. One dice is used and the first player throws the dice and moves his playing piece along the blocks according to the number indicated on the dice. The block will indicate whether to pick a card or a miniature. The child reads the question and if he responds he gets a chip. The child does not have to respond correctly at all time but has to make an attempt to answer. The therapist sets the example when she responds to her card, thereby encouraging interaction from the child.
Upon hearing or reading a word, the therapist asks the child what he/she thinks of and feels and what he/she wants to do. The therapist will correct any negative beliefs fo thoughts the child has e.g:
Child’s response: Someone is dying therefore the ambulance is there to take the person to hospital
Therapist’s response: The ambulance helps to get the person to hospital quickly so a life can be saved
When we help children change their thoughts we help them change how they feel and behave. The aim of the game is to help children change negative belief systems to more appropriate beliefs.
The cards cover a wide range of topics from plesant to extremely unplesant issues. The therapist can inform the child that it is okay not to respond to a card. This game will help the therapist gain greater insight into the child’s belief system and thought processes. This game can be used both individually and in a group or with families.
If the playing piece land on “pick a miniature” the child picks a miniature from the bag and then tells a story about the chosen miniature. The therapists listens to the basic theme and then retells the story with the same characters in a similar setting but introduces healthier adaptations and resolutions of the conflict that have been exhibited in the child’s story. When the therapist lands on “pick a miniature” the therapist also tells a story and allows the child to retell the story. After the story is retold each player gets 2 chips. If a child cannot read the cards the therapist can read the card for the child.
The child normally responds to the cards and the story telling, by revealing psychological issues that are most prevalent for the child at that moment in time. The reponses given by the child during the game will help the therapist to further explore that particular aspect.
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