Body Psychotherapy Techniques for Children and Adolescents

Abstract: The toy brings its own energy of health. It helps the child to learn how to explore toys and their meaning in the development of his or her personality. Therapeutic interventions are needed to provide an evolution of the maternal matrix.



Our purpose is to approach the theoretical and practical concepts of Body Psychotherapy with children and adolescents in order to convert theories and attitudes into therapeutic procedures. Our contribution is about transmitting the techniques of the main neo-Reichian therapists (Gerda Boyesen, David Boadella (1985), Alexander Lowen and Stanley Keleman), while associating these with psychoanalytic formulations and psychodrama relating to the language of play.

We utilize the concept of the “intermediate object”, given to us from the writings of Winnicott (1975, 1982a, 1982b, 1990, 1991); and the use of his therapeutic techniques, in search of an energetic flow, as outlined in the writings of Reich (1977, 1979); the necessity to propitiate a repeating of the identity matrix, as provided through the psychodrama; the various playing correspond to the development of the child, according to Aberastury (1968, 1982).

Their major contribution is in identifying and evaluating the games that correspond to the type of blocked energy, within the psychic (emotional and psychological) and bodily development of the child. We have come to the conclusion that, “the toy (or game) symbolizes the body of the child and it can be utilized as an interpretation and/or an intervention, without interrupting the energetic circuit.”

Our job is thus transformed into the task of studying the prophylaxis of any neurosis, or, let us say, to accompany the growing children until they eventually enter the adolescent phase; working jointly with their parents, since the initial identification of their armouring and the need for us to work with them, using the therapeutic and pedagogical functions of the toy, which is all connected with the prevention (and reduction) of armouring. Therefore, we systematize the types of toys that correspond to the energetic flow of developments of the child, to enable us to amplify this internal space, and to avoid (or reduce) the patterns of emotional tension.

This work reflects the day-to-day life of the children, their search for pleasure and the need to become creative, breaking the rules of the games, building their own rules, being faithful, their pains, their anguishes, their fears; their lives which are so close to the somatic memories of their conception, to this conducting wire of the energetic pulsation. We intend to take the concept of the toy, in its operative point of view, integrating its pedagogical and therapeutic aspects, as this object is always made to correspond to the children’s needs, whenever they play with it.

We consider playing as a way for children to acquire new concepts, to increase their capacity to create, and to perceive, so that they can achieve happiness and mental health throughout the development of the different stages towards their adult life.

Our scientific aim is to compare such features to the toys they use, establishing the stage of psychic development that the child is going through. Based on this data, we can present the operative proposal (a faster and more precise development), which leads to the correct preventative therapeutic process that reaches the development of the child’s personality with greater efficacy.

By carrying out a research over many years of study and clinical work, we have managed to identify the energy that different toys and games embrace, and their related meaning to the child, trying to discover ways of connectivity and to determine the location of such energy in their body.

Playing reflects the child’s body and may be developed from actions that depend on external influences and encouragements. Such playing will only really be meaningful, when its symbolism is inserted into the external reality. The toy brings its own energy of health, and is consequently able to provide this energetic balance, favoring its relationship with the organism.

The psychotherapist, or educator, can guide the child to learn how to explore toys and their meaning in the development of their personality. The toy symbolizes the body and is used as an interpretation and/or intervention in the psychic and bodily process. It is instrumental in helping to localize the child’s body tension in its use of toys.

To localize the child’s body tension by using toys

In this proposal, we deal with the child’s play being integrated into their natural energetic process, re-balancing and in the charging and discharging of tensions. The therapist or educator is in charge of facilitating this process to gain a maximum effect of furthering such an energy transfusion through playing. The therapeutic intervention (of playing with toys) is needed to provide a form of evolution of the maternal matrix, as well as for the elaboration of the play itself. Our ultimate aim is to restructure and reorganize the child’s defense mechanisms that are essential to an adequate development, so that children can fully utilise use their effective potential.

The Aims of the Workshop

  • To approach the theoretical and practical concepts of Body Psychotherapy with children and adolescents in order to convert postures and attitudes into therapeutic procedures.
  • To lead the child to learn how to explore toys and their meaning in the development of his or her personality. A toy symbolizes the body and is used as an interpretation and/or intervention in the psychic and body process.
  • To localize the child’s bodily tensions by observing its use of different toys.





Our basic proposal in the psychotherapeutic work with children and adolescents relates to the reconstruction of their inner self-image. We were able to verify that, due to their need to reconstruct the image of the “broken toy”, because that symbolizes, or gives meaning to, a certain internal conflict.

This rebuilding corresponds to a specific phase of ego development, which is blocked because of the child’s body tensions. Our purpose is to restore the libidinal flow, and the deep feeling of being loved. Our scientific goal was to compare those basic concepts, detected according to the characteristics of the toy.

After many data surveys, from 1991 until 2013, we observed that there were no meaningful changes, which indicated to us that the “energy of toy is health, and that the playing by itself means self-regulation and grounding of the children”. Since then, we began to imply that the energetic capacity of each toy that mobilizes healthy content, needs to be elaborated.

In addition, we have observed that there is no particular right or wrong toy for a certain child, but we can affirm that there are toys that are needed for the evolution of certain anxieties, and that they are a significant part of the child’s development. We have also observed that there are no really ‘dangerous’ toys, but what does exist are dangerous ways of playing with toys.

The toy symbolizes the body; and our proposal is that children restore their movement and their pulsation through “playing with the body”, which means giving room to any feelings, such as reflection, fear, sensitivity, joy, suffering, sorrow, doubt, affect and sexuality.

Finally, playing with toys is in order to make room for any inherent uneasiness before forming an identity; the child’s search, in the process of conquering its anxiety, is to enable the child to find its freedom and creativity by means of the “constructed toy”.



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