Laila Al-Khalili did not hesitate to adopt the idea of the play therapy room as a unique project needed by the children of Gaza, who suffer from various behavioral problems due to the Israeli wars.
Gaza- Psychologist Manar Salmi achieved remarkable success with the 6-year-old child Majd in the framework of the “Play Therapy Room”, a unique initiative in the Gaza Strip that aims to help children get rid of emergency behaviors.
For many months, since the last Israeli war on Gaza in May of last year, the child Majd has been suffering from fear, sleep disturbances and a loss of confidence.
Salma says to Al Jazeera Net, within a few days of Majd’s commitment to the activities of the “play therapy room”, according to “informed consent” from the parents, which includes a “behavioral contract” between the child’s parents and the room to play participatory roles, and using positive encouragement reinforcements for the child, the results were positive and achieved in a timely manner. standard.
In the case of the child Majd, who abandoned his bedroom since the war and became more attached to his mother and adhered to sleeping next to her, Salma – with the help of his family – used positive reinforcers for one week, such as motivational prizes, and the results were striking, as he regained his confidence in himself, and became more expressive He is now fully recovering from the effects of fear that stuck with him.
play therapy methodology
Majd is not an exceptional case in Gaza, and according to Salmy, the results of a survey of 450 children of the “Loved Child Kindergarten” showed that 55 boys and girls needed interventions to help them get rid of behaviors that stuck to them, most of which were the result of wars and Israeli attacks, and had negative effects on them. their daily life.
There is no accurate estimate of the number of children suffering from psychological problems related to the occupation and its policies against Gaza, but the United Nations Children’s Fund “UNICEF” (UNICEF), said in a report last June, a few weeks after the war stopped, that one million children They live in Gaza, 250,000 of whom suffer from psychological problems.
Salma does not prefer to use descriptions such as “psychological diseases or problems” with children’s cases that the play therapy room deals with, and she says that they are urgent behaviors, most notably fear, stubbornness, mental dispersal, anxiety and sleep disturbances, and they need a lot of patience in dealing with them in order to modify them and restore the child’s balanced personality. .
The room adopts a collective program that includes 12 sessions, through which children are divided into groups of 5 people, and a safe space is provided for them to express their feelings through play. Psychologist with “Behavior Modification Intervention”.
As a result, and talking to the specialist Salma, these children are sorted into a program of individual sessions to deal with each child with a behavior modification plan that suits his condition, and with the active participation of the family, which must sign an “informed consent” that gives the room approval to deal with its child, and at the same time pledges to do A supportive role at home to reach the desired results as soon as possible.
idea and ambition
Reem Jaarour, founder of the INCLUSION CREW team, which she describes as a “humanitarian volunteer”, was inspired to establish the first play therapy room for pre-school children from her personal experience with her three children: Mariam (7 years old) and Muhammad (6) years) and baby Sarah.
And her children’s home game room was an “inspiration” for her to think about establishing a room that adopts a scientific methodology for early detection of emergency behaviors on children, whether caused by wars and violence of the occupation, or due to the repercussions of the Corona pandemic, and Jaarour says – to Al Jazeera Net – that the room adopts the observation method for detection. early, and then develop a behavior modification program in line with the family.
The type of games, which Jaarour chose based on scientific studies, and each of them has an indication of one or more specific behaviors, are important tools that help the psychologist, during limited sessions, to accurately diagnose the emergency behaviors on the child’s personality, and by communicating with the parents, the diagnosis is confirmed, expressing admiration for the great awareness of the child’s personality. Parents of children and their response to the room in its early days.
After evaluating the first stage, which extends for three months, and studying the results of the room’s work and their impact on children in the “Loved Childhood Kindergarten” in Gaza City, Jaarour hopes to move to the stage of developing the room, and to generalize the idea to kindergartens in all cities of the Gaza Strip.
A safe and psychologically stable generation
The director of the kindergarten, Laila Al-Khalili, told Al-Jazeera Net that she did not hesitate to adopt the idea of a play therapy room as a unique project needed by the children of Gaza, who suffer from various behavioral problems, the most common of which are distraction, lack of focus, hyperactivity, tantrums, stubbornness, fear and shyness.
Al-Khalili seemed satisfied with the results achieved by the room with kindergarten children until now, and said, “Despite the short period of time for establishing and opening the room, it achieves daily successes in dealing with children, and contributes to reducing (negative) psychological and behavioral phenomena through the play therapy methodology.”
Based on these results, and the positive interaction of children’s families with the room and its activities, Al-Khalili supports the development and dissemination of the idea to make every kindergarten in the Gaza Strip a play therapy room, providing psychological support to children before they enter school in order to build a stable and psychologically secure generation.