In child psychotherapy, the development of the child and its social environment (family) must be taken into account much more than in work with adults - in addition to the structure of the mental disorder.
Play therapy is a particularly suitable method in psychotherapy for children. The game replaces conversations. In this way, the child can directly depict his or her emotional relationships with people and things. It is unnoticeably promoted in its inner confrontation through constant, cautious confrontation with its problems and conflicts. The child experiences his/her feelings more consciously and learns to express them appropriately.
Appropriate toys make it easier for the therapist to understand the meaning. For example, children use puppets that represent father, mother and siblings for family play. The way the child treats these puppets is an important indication of the child's problems.
Hyperkinetic, aggressive children need activities that concentrate their strength and give shape and direction to their uncontrolled driving forces, e.g. hammering nails or sawing. Such activities require sustained interest, concentration and coordination skills. In an atmosphere of cautious encouragement, children can increase their frustration tolerance and gradually become able to focus their driving forces on specific goals inside and outside the playroom.
Fearful children need toys and games that allows them to hide what they don't want to show and to do things without being exposed and embarrassed. They can use clay to form a figure, crush it and use paint to paint or soil it. In this way they can show feelings and cover them up again in the next moment. The versatility of such materials gives children the opportunity to change the identity of their symbolic representations at any time, thereby giving them the security to discover their inner and outer world.
The younger the child is, the more they shape their inner world, instead of their perception of the outer world. After the child has overcome the stage of foreignness and unimaginativeness in treatment, it begins to play freely with increasing self-confidence. This form is a confrontation of the ego with its wishes, fears, conflicts and joys; it allows it to distance itself and thus to process.