Patents As Financial Assets: A Gestalt View of Building Them Up

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The capture devices communicate with other components of the system, such as a computer or other mobile devices, using either wired or wireless connections or over a network. The capture devices, computers and other components on the network may include memory containing computer executable instructions for processing received data or information captured from rendered documents and other sources such as information displayed on a screen or monitor. The network may also include search engines, document sources, user account services and storage devices, markup services, and other network services.

Examples of a suitable network may include a corporate Intranet, the public Internet, a mobile phone network or some other network, or any interconnection of the above. Regardless of the manner by which the devices and components are coupled to each other, they may all may be operable in accordance with well-known commercial transaction and communication protocols e. In some examples, many of the functions and capabilities of the system may be incorporated or integrated into the capture device. As described above, the capture device may capture text using an optical scanner that captures image data from the rendered document, or using an audio recording device that captures a user's spoken reading of the text, or other methods.

In some examples, the capture device may also capture images, graphical symbols and icons, and so on, including machine-readable codes such as barcodes, although these are not generally required to recognize a document or perform actions. The device may be exceedingly simple, and include little more than a transducer, some storage, and a data interface, relying on other functionality residing elsewhere in the system, or it may be a more full-featured device. In some cases, the device may be a mobile device running one or more applications that perform some or all of the functionality described herein.

The capture device includes a capture element that captures text, symbols, graphics, and so on, from rendered documents and other displays of information. The capture element may include an optical scanning head, a camera, optical sensors, and so on. The capture device may include logic to interact with the various other components of the device. The logic may be operable to read and write data and program instructions stored in associated storage, such as RAM, ROM, flash, or other suitable memory. The capture device may also include a touch screen or other user interface to communicate information to users, and receive input from users, among other things.

The capture device may include an on board power source, or may be powered over a USB or other similar connections. As an example of how the capture device may be used, a reader may capture text from a newspaper article with a camera associated with her mobile device. The text is captured as a bit-mapped image via the camera.

The logic stores the bit-mapped image in memory and time stamps the image. The logic also performs optical character recognition OCR , and converts the image to text. The system uploads the text to an index of content associated with the newspaper, and identifies and retrieves an electronic counterpart for the article.

The capture device then displays the electronic counterpart via an associated touch screen along with one or more actions to perform. Provisional Patent Application No. Where the context permits, words in the above Detailed Description using the singular or plural number may also include the plural or singular number respectively.

The above detailed description of examples of the system is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the system to the precise form disclosed above. While specific examples of, and examples for, the system are described above for illustrative purposes, various equivalent modifications are possible within the scope of the system, as those skilled in the relevant art will recognize.

Each of these processes or blocks may be implemented in a variety of different ways. Also, while processes or blocks are at times shown as being performed in series, these processes or blocks may instead be performed in parallel, or may be performed at different times.

Further any specific numbers noted herein are only examples: While certain aspects of the system are presented below in certain claim forms, the inventors contemplate the various aspects of the system in any number of claim forms. For example, while only one aspect of the system is recited as embodied in a computer-readable medium, other aspects may likewise be embodied in a computer-readable medium.

Accordingly, the inventors reserve the right to add additional claims after filing the application to pursue such additional claim forms for other aspects of the system. From the foregoing, it will be appreciated that specific embodiments of the facility have been described herein for purposes of illustration, but that various modifications may be made without deviating from the spirit and scope of the facility.

Accordingly, the facility is not limited except as by the appended claims. A facility for identifying a location in a printed document is described. The facility obtains an image of the printed document, and extracts gestalt information from text occurring in the image of the printed document. The facility compares the extracted gestalt information to an index of documents and, based upon this comparison, identifies a document that includes the gestalt information.

Some of the information includes: Continuum from arrangement of articles, headlines, captions, images, etc. Use of textual features at the line, paragraph, article, column, region, page, spread-level. Special Techniques Use of blurred version of original text and generating blurred version of captured image s to match the blur-level of the indexed copy.

This optimizes the set of features extracted and indexed to match what will be encountered by a wide range of capture hardware, including cameras with no close-up focus capabilities. Iterative Processing and Context Use of context and inputs to generate a first estimated output at some level e. Use of such iteration in navigating a tree of possibilities, from revising the context and corpus expectations e. Typically, input is expected to come from the same context as previous input, e. This provides strong bottom-up constraints, allowing few indications to quickly narrow in on an exact location or range.

For example, a context may dictate that a character be interpreted in a certain way, but if too much counter-evidence is encountered, the context may be questioned. Similarly, multiple contexts may be explored, based on available time, processing, expense, etc.

In some cases, the system may use probabilistic methods to perform the comparison The following discussion provides a brief, general description of a representative environment in which the facility can be implemented. A computer-implemented method comprising: The method of claim 1 , wherein the first location, the second location, and the third location each comprise an absolute location in the image and determining the two dimensional geometric shape comprises determining the two dimensional geometric shape using the absolute locations.

The method of claim 1 , comprising: The method of claim 3 , wherein the two dimensional geometric shape comprises a triangle and the document signature indicates a signature location of the triangle in the image. The method of claim 3 , wherein the two dimensional geometric shape comprises a word centroid and the document signature indicates a signature location of the centroid in the image. The method of claim 5 , wherein the signature location comprises a location of the center of the centroid in the image. The method of claim 1 , wherein the two dimensional geometric shape is defined by a first line that extends from the first location to the second location, a second line that extends from the second location to the third location, and a third line that extends from the third location to the first location.

The method of claim 1 , wherein the two dimensional geometric shape comprises an outline that connects the first location, the second location, and the third location. The method of claim 1 , further comprising comparing the two dimensional shape to two dimensional shapes of other documents to identify a matching document that matches the rendered document. The system of claim 10 , wherein the first location, the second location, and the third location each comprise an absolute location in the image and determining the two dimensional geometric shape comprises determining the two dimensional geometric shape using the absolute locations.

The system of claim 10 , the operations comprising: The system of claim 12 , wherein the two dimensional geometric shape comprises a triangle and the document signature indicates a signature location of the triangle in the image. The system of claim 12 , wherein the two dimensional geometric shape comprises a word centroid and the document signature indicates a signature location of the centroid in the image.

The system of claim 14 , wherein the signature location comprises a location of the center of the centroid in the image. A non-transitory computer-readable medium storing software comprising instructions executable by one or more computers which, upon such execution, cause the one or more computers to perform operations comprising: The computer-readable medium of claim 16 , wherein the first location, the second location, and the third location each comprise absolute location in the image and determining the two dimensional geometric shape comprises determining the two dimensional geometric shape using the absolute locations.

The computer-readable medium of claim 16 , the operations comprising: The computer-readable medium of claim 18 , wherein the two dimensional geometric shape comprises a triangle and the document signature indicates a signature location of the triangle in the image. The computer-readable medium of claim 18 , wherein the two dimensional geometric shape comprises a word centroid and the document signature indicates a signature location of the centroid in the image.

The computer-readable medium of claim 20 , wherein the signature location comprises a location of the center of the centroid in the image. US USB2 en Adaptive pattern recognition based controller apparatus and method and human-factored interface therefore. Performing actions based on capturing information from rendered documents, such as documents under copyright. Adding information or functionality to a rendered document via association with an electronic counterpart. Triggering actions in response to optically or acoustically capturing keywords from a rendered document. Methods and systems for initiating application processes by data capture from rendered documents.

Automatically capturing information, such as capturing information using a document-aware device. Method and means for teaching a set of sound symbols through the unique device of phonetic phenomena. Method for identifying unrecognizable characters in optical character recognition machines. Optical character reader for outputting a character from combinations of possible representations of the character.

Gesture-modified diagram for retrieval of image resembling diagram, with parts selectable for further interactive retrieval. Method and portable device for detection, storage and for eventual processing and reproduction of graphic symbols appearing on any type of carrier. Contour feature-based method for identification and segmentation of touching characters. Optical character recognition neural network system for machine-printed characters. Electronic filing apparatus using part of read image information as retrieval information.

Interactive graphical search and replace utility for computer-resident synthetic graphic image editors. Character recognition device which divides a single character region into subregions to obtain a character code. Method and apparatus for manipulating outlines in improving digital typeface on raster output devices.

Method and apparatus for storing, transmitting and retrieving graphical and tabular data. Method and system for building a database and performing marketing based upon prior shopping history. Apparatus and method for displaying data communication network configuration after searching the network. Method of communication using pointing vector gestures and mnemonic devices to assist in learning point vector gestures.

Standup portable personal computer with detachable wireless keyboard and adjustable display. Method and apparatus for integrating a dynamic lexicon into a full-text information retrieval system. Graphical user interface with gesture recognition in a multiapplication environment. Portable scanner system with transceiver for two-way radio frequency communication. Method and apparatus for controlling electronic tone generation in accordance with a detected type of performance gesture.

Recognizing the cessation of motion of a pointing device on a display by comparing a group of signals to an anchor point. Word spotting in bitmap images using word bounding boxes and hidden Markov models. Methods and apparatus for evaluating and extracting signatures of computer viruses and other undesirable software entities. Building scalable N-gram language models using maximum likelihood maximum entropy N-gram models.

Semantic co-occurrence filtering for speech recognition and signal transcription applications. Method and apparatus for editing an inked object while simultaneously displaying its recognized object. Control panel having a graphical user interface for setting control panel data with stylus. Method and apparatus for grouping and manipulating electronic representations of handwriting, printing and drawings. Method and system for training a handwriting recognizer at the time of misrecognition. Computer based pen system and method for automatically cancelling unwanted gestures and preventing anomalous signals as inputs to such system.

Display system capable of accepting user commands by use of voice and gesture inputs. Method and apparatus for producing a hybrid data structure for displaying a raster image. Unified hierarchical and tear off menus in a graphical event-driven computer system. Method for at least partially transforming image data into text with provision for subsequent storage or further processing. Method and system for converting bitmap data into page definition language commands.

Device and method for automatically transmitting documents in a facsimile system. Apparatus and method for controlling performance dynamics and tempo in response to player's gesture. System for processing user events with input device entity associated with event producer which further links communication from event consumer to the event producer. Method and apparatus for providing electronic advertisements to end users in a consumer best-fit pricing manner.

User interface for an implantable medical device using an integrated digitizer display screen. Interactive information processing system responsive to user manipulation of physical objects and displayed images. System for universal archival service where transfer is initiated by user or service and storing information at multiple locations for user selected degree of confidence. Apparatus for interactively editing and outputting sign language information using graphical user interface.

Representation of inter-relationships between graphical objects in a computer display device. Method and apparatus for supplementing significant portions of a document selected without document image decoding with retrieved information. System and method for archiving digital versions of documents and for generating quality printed documents therefrom. System for generation of user profiles for a system for customized electronic identification of desirable objects.

Mobile terminal system for voice recognition, database search, and resource access communications. Optical scanner for reading and decoding one- and-two-dimensional symbologies at variable depths of field including memory efficient high speed image processing means and high accuracy image analysis means. Method and apparatus for freehand annotation and drawings incorporating sound and for compressing and synchronizing sound. Human factored interface incorporating adaptive pattern recognition based controller apparatus.

Apparatus and method for recognizing facial expressions and facial gestures in a sequence of images. System and method for self-identifying a portable information device to a computing unit. Disambiguating input strokes of a stylus-based input devices for gesture or character recognition. Method and apparatus for collapsing and expanding selected regions on a work space of a computer controlled display system.

System and method for remote image communication and processing using data recorded on photographic film. Apparatus and method for executing multiple-concatenated command gestures in a gesture based input system. System for converting medical information into representative abbreviated codes with correction capability. Methods and apparatus for securely encrypting data in conjunction with a personal computer. Scanning method and apparatus for pre-scanning document to allow manual adjustment of its orientation. System for adding requested document cross references to a document by annotation proxy configured to merge and a directory generator and annotation server.

Collaborative work environment supporting three-dimensional objects and multiple remote participants. Method and system for selecting text with a mouse input device in a computer system. Document search and retrieval system with partial match searching of user-drawn annotations. Hand-held optically readable character set reader having automatic focus control for operating over a range of distances. Method and apparatus for flipping a double-sided graphic image having different sized first and second sides. System, method, and computer program product for displaying and processing notes containing note segments linked to portions of documents.

Document data filing apparatus for generating visual attribute values of document data to be filed. Method and apparatus for grouping graphic objects on a computer based system having a graphical user interface. Distinguishing gestures from handwriting in a pen based computer by size discrimination. Distinguishing gestures from handwriting in a pen based computer by stroke analysis. Apparatus and method for implementing visual animation illustrating results of interactive editing operations. Use of avatars with automatic gesturing and bounded interaction in on-line chat session.

Hand-held portable WWW access terminal with visual display panel and GUI-based WWW browser program integrated with bar code symbol reader in a hand-supportable housing. Automatic access of electronic information through secure machine-readable codes on printed documents. Method for annotating electronically stored document to be executed by computer, computer program product and computer system. Automatically generating a topic description for text and searching and sorting text by topic using the same. Disambiguating system for disambiguating ambiguous input sequences by displaying objects associated with the generated input sequences in the order of decreasing frequency of use.

Interactive music generation system making use of global feature control by non-musicians. Automated capture of technical documents for electronic review and distribution. System for capturing and retrieving audio data and corresponding hand-written notes. Method and system for indexing and controlling the playback of multimedia documents. System for searching a corpus of document images by user specified document layout components. Computer-implemented decision management system with dynamically generated questions and answer choices.

Using fontless structured document image representations to render displayed and printed documents at preferred resolutions. Freeform graphics system having meeting objects for supporting meeting objectives. System and method for organizing recognized and unrecognized objects on a computer display. User interface and other enhancements for natural language information retrieval system and method.

Method and apparatus for reading images without need for self-generated illumination source. Automatic method for scoring and clustering prototypes of handwritten stroke-based data. Handwriting recognition method and apparatus having multiple selectable dictionaries. Methods and apparatus for intelligent selection of goods and services in telephonic and electronic commerce. System, method, and apparatus for generation and recognizing universal commands.

Graphical click surfaces for force feedback applications to provide user selection using cursor interaction with a trigger position within a boundary of a graphical object. Translation system and method in which words are translated by a specialized dictionary and then a general dictionary. System and method for providing lossless compression of n-gram language models in a real-time decoder. System for coupling a host computer to an image scanner in which high level functions are migrated to the attached host computer.

Method and system of altering an attribute of a graphic object in a pen environment. Computer animation method and system for synthesizing human-like gestures and actions. Method and system for document classification and search using document auto-summary system. System and method for optimal adaptive matching of users to most relevant entity and information in real-time. Method for detecting process sensitivity to integrated circuit layout by compound processing. Method and apparatus for generating information input using reflected light image of target object.

Speech recognition interface with natural language engine for audio information retrieval over cellular network. Video hand image-three-dimensional computer interface with multiple degrees of freedom. Methods and systems for controlling computers or linking to internet resources from physical and electronic objects. System for transferring jobs between processing units based upon content of job and ability of unit to perform job. Method and apparatus for accessing electronic data via a familiar printed medium.

Device and method for full-text large-dictionary string matching using n-gram hashing. User adaptive control of object having pseudo-emotions by learning adjustments of emotion generating and behavior generating algorithms. Method of estimating at least one run-based font attribute of a group of characters. System and method for permitting three-dimensional navigation through a virtual reality environment using camera-based gesture inputs.

Securing restricted operations of a computer program using a visual key feature. Systems, methods and computer program products for scanning uniform resource locators to access and display internet resources. Method and apparatus for managing windows in three dimensions in a two dimensional windowing system. System and method of increasing the recognition rate of speech-input instructions in remote communication terminals. Handwriting input display apparatus having improved speed in changing display of entered handwriting.

Method and system for gesture category recognition and training using a feature vector. Technique for controlling a presentation of a computer generated object having a plurality of movable components.

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System and method for recognizing user-specified pen-based gestures using hidden markov models. System and method for linking online resources to print media and authoring tool for same. Information processing method and apparatus, and storage medium storing medium storing program for practicing this method. Method for managing printed medium activated revenue sharing domain name system schemas. Marking medium area with encoded identifier for producing action through network.

Method of knowledge management and information retrieval utilizing natural characteristics of published documents as an index method to a digital content store. System and method for scan-based input, storage and retrieval of information over an interactive communication network. Apparatus and method for detecting and executing positional and gesture commands corresponding to movement of handheld computing device. Inverted index storage structure using subindexes and large objects for tight coupling of information retrieval with database management systems.

Method and apparatus for implementing search and channel features in an enterprise-wide computer system. System, method and article of manufacture for presenting product information to an anonymous user. Method and apparatus for displaying translucent overlapping graphical objects on a computer monitor. Method for interactively creating an information database including preferred information elements, such as preferred-authority, world wide web pages.

Method and system for the automatic production and distribution of media content using the internet. Image display control apparatus for displaying images corresponding to action of an object. Routing string indicative of a location of a database on a web associated with a product in commerce. Methods and apparatus for serving a web page to a client device based on printed publications and publisher controlled links. Enforcing access control on resources at a location other than the source location. Method and system of interpreting and presenting web content using a voice browser.

Streamlined architecture for embodied conversational characters with reduced message traffic. Method and system for gathering, organizing, and displaying information from data searches. System and method for implementing a wireless network in a service center for generating a repair order. Printed medium activated interactive communication of multimedia information, including advertising.

Technique to identify interesting print articles for later retrieval and use of the electronic version of the articles. Electronically verified digital signature and document delivery system and method. Method and apparatus for tracking client interaction with a network resource and creating client profiles and resource database. Video display apparatus with scan conversion and reversion and a video display method using scan conversion and reversion. Script character processing method for interactively adjusting space between writing element. Method and system for accessing electronic resources via machine-readable data on intelligent documents.

Apparatus and method for simultaneously managing paper-based documents and digital images of the same. Methods and apparatus for distributing supplemental information related to printed articles. Method and apparatus for displaying regions in a document image having a low recognition confidence. Contact is an integral part of all experience, therefore no experience can exist without contact. In gestalt theory, both intrapersonal contact contact between children and aspects of themselves and interpersonal contact contact between children and the environment are considered important.

Although children must always be viewed as being in contact with their environment, there must also be boundaries that distin- guish them from their environment. As such, children retain their identity Aronstam ; Clarkson and Mackewn ; Korb et al. Boundaries must be penetrable in order to ensure exchange between children and their field environment. This is referred to as confluence Aronstam ; Oaklander a; Yontef ; Yontef and Jacobs Contact-making implies that the environment is used for satisfying needs.

The capacity for intra- and interpersonal contact-making is essential for healthy organismic self-regulation in children. In order to retain their own identity, and to be able to have healthy contact with the environment, a penetrable boundary is necessary to distinguish children from their field environment. The most important characteristics of the contact boundary are identification and alienation. Identification is the process whereby children distinguish between that which belongs to them and that which is foreign to them, for instance that which they can identify with a specific family and culture.

Within the contact boundary there is usually a feeling of cohesion, whereas that which is outside the contact boundary can be consid- ered foreign. By means of the process of contact-making and withdrawal, children attempt to satisfy their needs. Not one of these two processes is in itself positive or negative.

It is important that children have the ability to regulate the relevant flow of contact and withdrawal for completing the gestalt Aronstam ; Korb et al.

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Healthy functioning implies that children must be capable of distin- guishing which aspects belong to them and which aspects are foreign to them. Children must also be capable of relevant contact and withdrawal with the environment in order to complete the gestalt on their foreground and to effect organismic self-regulation. As already explained, younger children do not have the capability to satisfy needs on their own and still need a lot of help from adults in their life in this regard.

These children are not capable of suitable awareness and can no longer respond to their real needs. This neurosis impedes gestalt completion. The boundary between the self and the environment thus becomes unclear or gets lost. This disturbs both contact and awareness. Children with contact boundary disturbances are incapable of actualization and try increasingly to involve other people to tell them how they must be Aronstam ; Hardy ; Yontef and Simkin The child, in his quest for survival, will inhibit, block, repress, and restrict various aspects of the organism: These restrictions become contact boundary disturbances and cause interruptions of the natural, healthy process of organismic self-regulation.

As a result of life experiences, children learn often from a very early age to make use of contact boundary disturbances in order to satisfy their needs. Children with contact boundary disturbances are incapable of being aware of their needs and healthy contact with the environment. From the gestalt theory perspective, most authors identify various contact boundary disturbances, namely introjection, projection, confluence, retroflection and deflection Aronstam ; Clarkson ; Clarkson and Mackewn ; Oaklander a; Yontef ; Yontef and Simkin In addition, Clarkson and Clarkson and Mackewn mention desensitization and egotism as contact boundary disturbances.

Contact boundary disturbances are regarded as descriptions of processes and not of character traits. Subsequently attention is paid to contact boundary distur- bances, as well as to the way in which these may manifest in children. These contents are not assimilated and remain foreign and unprocessed.

Children thus sacrifice their own opinion and beliefs and accept the point of view of others, without questioning it. An introject can include an idea, attitude, belief or behaviour Aronstam ; Hardy , p. According to Yontef and Simkin , this causes the development of a rigid personality. The opposite of introjection is called assimilation. Assimilation is the process of experiencing what is to be taken in, deconstructing it, keeping what is useful, and discarding what is not.

Therefore assimilation implies where children process and make that which they receive from the environment part of themselves. It is thus a critical manner of action, where the good is kept and the bad is rejected Aronstam Introjection implies that children take in aspects from the environment without considering the positive and negative aspects, as is the case with assimilation. As a result, introjects never actually become part of children, although they affect their functioning.

Assimilation is a healthier form of contact, in that attitudes, beliefs, ideas or behaviour are not merely taken in from the environment without being criticized, but they are critically con- sidered and only positive aspects are kept. Young children take on aspects such as behaviour patterns, rules for action and manners as introjects. By means of these, they learn how to act in certain situations. Children do not have the ability to understand separate experiences and points of view and thus take responsibility for everything that happens in their lives and what others do to them.

Environmental influences such as the way parents discipline their children can also cause introjection. Parental styles can also indirectly cause children to believe that certain emotions such as anger and fear are wrong, as they are deprived of the consent to express these emotions. Furthermore, indirect influences from the environment can also cause introjection. Cultural rules for expressing emotion and gender differences associated therewith can cause introjection, for instance where daughters are expected to suppress anger and boys are expected to suppress sadness. Organism Environment Figure 1.

The child attempts to get rid of his or her own fantasized introjects and does not take the responsibility for that which is projected. Projection is used, in particular, if children have learnt that certain personality traits, emotions or behaviour are unacceptable. By means of projection, children deny their own personal experience. Children often tell lies and deny their emotions, because they have too little ego strength to take responsibility for their actions. They blame others for the unpleasant events in their lives.

These emotions are projected, since it is too painful to possess them. Projection implies that children do not accept responsi- bility for their own emotions or behaviour but hold others responsible for these. However, projection can also be used in a constructive way, for example in creative work, where parts of the self are projected in the work Clarkson Hardy adds that during gestalt therapy an attempt is made to help the client to own that which he or she projects onto others, in order to enhance his or her awareness of his or her self-identity and to promote contact with the environment in a self-nurturing manner.

Projective tech- niques during gestalt play therapy can contribute to children owning their own projection. This can positively influence their awareness of needs on their foreground and healthy organismic self-regulation. Projection is illus- trated in Figure 1. Children therefore do not know where they are and where other people are. This lack of boundaries keeps children from making positive contact with others Aronstam ; Clarkson Thompson and Rudolph , p. Oaklander a is of the opinion that the child who discloses conflu- ence has a poor sense of self.

These children usually act as pleasers in that they are prepared to do anything that is expected of them. It is important that children with confluence as contact boundary disturbance must be helped during gestalt play therapy to show resistance. Furthermore, these children should be assisted to develop a strong sense of the self. Confluence can, however, be used in a positive manner. When there is true and healthy contact between people, there is natural and healthy conflu- ence of energy Clarkson and Mackewn ; Hardy Confluence may occur between the therapist and the child when there is a positive thera- peutic relationship.

Refer to Figure 1. Yontef and Simkin , p. It can be inferred from this that retroflection means that the indi- vidual treats him- or herself as he or she would actually treat others. According to Clarkson and Mackewn , chronic unconscious retroflection is an obstacle for contact and usually occurs when expressing emotions is considered dangerous.

Anger in particular is an emotion which is often retroflected, since the child from an early age learns that expressing anger is prohibited Clarkson Children often retroflect emotions of grief and anger by means of symptoms such as headaches, stomach-aches, asthma attacks or hyperactivity Oaklander a. The manifestation of psychosomatic symptoms in the child can be an indication of retroflection.

Introjects, such as that the expressing of anger is prohibited or dangerous, can also cause children to retroflect their emotions. Retroflection can sometimes be to the advantage of children, such as when a response in a specific situation is suppressed because it can be disad- vantageous to them or contradict social norms. However, the child should be aware of this Hardy An example of this would be where children temporarily suppress their anger, when they in fact want to attack someone.

Retroflection is illustrated in Figure 1. Children who often make use of deflection do not use their energy effectively in order to receive feedback from themselves, others or the environment. They attempt to avoid the impact of stimuli from the environment — for example, something is said about someone instead of talking directly with the person or there is com- munication about the past and the future rather than the present Clarkson ; Korb et al. Deflection can therefore manifest in various ways, although it implies in fact diminished contact and awareness of the environment.

In the short term, this behaviour offers the child a feeling of the self and energy, but this is of short duration Oaklander a. Deflection can manifest itself in children in various ways, in order to protect themselves against emotional pain. Children making use of deflection as contact boundary disturbance are often vulnerable and responsive in respect of their emotions and not able to understand or control them, which then gives rise to unsuitable behaviour. This contact boundary distur- bance can be regarded as the process whereby children exclude themselves from sensory and physical experience related to aspects such as pain and dis- comfort.

An example of a form of desensitiza- tion is where a child who was exposed to physical abuse for a long period of time does not feel the pain of the beating any more or where a child whose parents fight and shout at each other a lot does not hear the shouting any more, although it takes place in his or her presence. They also function without contact with their bodies.

These children need to experience their sensory contact functions in order to gain a stronger sense of self Oaklander b, Desensitization implies that children do not have sensory or physical contact with themselves. They are often not capable of emotional contact-making, because they cannot distinguish the physical experience from the emotional. Desensitization can sometimes be considered positive, such as when severe toothache is experienced or where an athlete ignores the burning sensation of a blister on his or her foot.

However, Perls believed that West- erners in particular have learnt to block physical experience to their disad- vantage. A person who suffers from insomnia will take medication rather than gain awareness of the experience of restlessness in order to obtain its existential meaning. Desensitization is illustrated in Figure 1.

This style of neurotic contact restrains children from taking effective action in order to satisfy their needs. Perls, quoted in Clarkson , pp. Egotism implies that children have objective, rational awareness of their experience, but not subjective or emotional awareness of their experience. They are thus not in contact with themselves. A certain degree of egotism is normal in respect of any important decision or long-term process. If children are not capable of repressing their spontaneous enthusiasm at times, they can possibly commit themselves to actions for which they will be sorry later.

Healthy egotism allows children to take an objective look at themselves and their situation. This applies especially to senior primary school children and older, as younger children do not have the mental capability to look at them- selves and their situation objectively. Egotism becomes a contact boundary disturbance when children con- tinuously attempt to control the uncontrollable and surprising aspects in their life by means of continuous objective action, at the expense of emotional contact.

The chronic egotist seems to be in control of him- or herself, but never allows him- or herself to experience, give or receive spon- taneously Clarkson ; Clarkson and Mackewn However, the organismic self-regulation and self-awareness of children who want to control all aspects in their life and who are not at all capable of spontaneity are negatively affected by their egotism. They can for instance not fantasize about an aspect of themselves which is like a monster and which they do not like.

They will for example often resist this by saying that monsters do not exist. If the therapist asks them which animal they would like to be if they had a choice, they would immediately say that that could not happen in reality. People move between current natural divisions in themselves such as body—spirit, self—external world, emotional—real and conscious—unconscious. According to Korb et al. Polariza- tion takes place in particular when children identify mainly with one set of opposite traits. These children spend increasingly more energy to maintain the pole with which they have identified.

Experiences or traits that do not conform to this construct are denied. Organismic self-regulation leads to the integration of polarities, where differences are accepted and integrated. A lack of integration, however, causes fragmentation Yontef From the gestalt theory perspective, both aspects of the polarity are considered valid and both can be relevant in specific situations.

For example, both love and hate are valid emotions and both good child and bad child traits can exist within the self-structure of the personality Korb et al. Polarities can be considered as opposites that complement or oppose each other. Various forms of polarization can occur, such as polarities in respect of emotions, traits of the self or traits of others.

On the other hand, organismic self-regulation causes integration of polarities. During therapy children must be guided to become aware of their polar- ities and that both sides of their polarities are part of them. They must also be guided to accept responsibility for this in order to make a more realistic choice concerning their conduct than when they denied these parts of them- selves Aronstam Instead of avoiding extremes of personality, passion or propensity, Gestaltists seek to discover, accentuate and acknowledge the widest possible differences between people and within one particular person.

Phenomenologically, Gestalt seeks not to deny difference but to bring polarisations, if not into reconciliation, then into dialogue. The aim of gestalt play therapy is to integrate polarities, in order to allow children to function better and to ensure that each part of the polarity finds its place in a well-integrated personality Thompson and Rudolph From the gestalt play theoretical approach, the focus should be to guide the children towards awareness of polarities within themselves and their lives, so that they may integrate them by making choices regarding handling them and taking responsibility for them.

Children also function by means of opposites and even emotions are classified into opposites, for example sad and happy, disappointed and satisfied Schoeman They feel confused as the result of the polarities within themselves, for instance when they experience love and hate towards the same person, as well as the polarities they observe in adults. Children generally also experience difficulty in accepting those aspects within them- selves which they find unacceptable, or which their parents criticize.

The latter contributes to fragmentation of the self Oaklander Repeatedly I have seen young children adopting this kind of all-or-none conceptualization of their own affective life, accepting a very one-sided view of their feelings. That is, they deny alternative emotions and expe- rience great difficulty in accepting the possibility that seemingly con- tradictory feelings might simultaneously exist.

Polarities can thus cause feelings of confusion in the child, which in turn contribute to a fragmented existence. Children of six years and younger developmentally have difficulty in understanding the simultaneous experi- ence of conflicting emotions, such as love and anger towards the same person. This fragmentation should be addressed during gestalt play therapy, in order to effect integration of these polarities. The integration of polarities is a prerequisite for a dynamic and healthy life process. Activities such as drawing, clay work and stories can be used during gestalt play therapy to assist the child to integrate polarities in his or her life.

The use of these techniques as part of gestalt play therapy is discussed in detail in Chapters 3 to 5. From the gestalt perspective, the following layers of the personality are dis- tinguished: Children are caught up in the synthetic layer, trying to be what they are not. They seek roles created by themselves or others. Many unresolved conflicts are found in this layer.

Children act in the synthetic layer according to what they themselves or others expect of them and thus not as their true selves. In the false layer, children act as if they have characteristics expected of them. These parts are thus in continuous conflict with each other Aronstam ; Thompson and Rudolph During assistance-rendering, the individual must become aware of the conflict between these polarities in order to gain insight that these can complement each other and as such function in a more integrated manner Clarkson and Mackewn ; Thompson and Rudolph , p.

Furthermore, a lack of awareness of this contributes to a fragmented existence, whereas awareness can lead to integration. As children become aware of their synthetic game, they also become aware of their fears that maintain this game. This awareness is often accompanied by anxiety Thompson and Rudolph According to Aronstam , p.

This can be considered as the layer of game and roles. In the phobic layer, children act according to the role expected of them, for example the helpless victim, the bully or the clown Clarkson ; Clarkson and Mackewn Children in the phobic layer can experience anxiety when they become aware of their game within the synthetic layer. Children who for example pretend that they have considerable self-confidence and take on the role of a clown can feel anxious when they become aware thereof and acknowledge that they do not actually believe in themselves.

Although they experience anxiety, they will probably resist a change in behaviour and continue to function according to this role. According to Yontef and Simkin , p. Children seek external support in order to solve their problem and they believe that they cannot act in a self-supporting manner Aronstam Two polarities of the self are in conflict during the impasse layer, namely the healthy part that wants to complete unfinished business and the other part that wants to avoid the accompanying pain and hardship.

Individuals usually try to avoid the impasse layer, as they want to avoid responsibility for their being caught up. By resisting, children deny the anxiety experienced when they become aware of both their freedom and their limitations. This layer is characterized by feelings of confusion, being caught up and anxiety, and contributes to high levels of discomfort Clarkson ; Clarkson and Mackewn Children in the impasse layer are aware of the roles they play, but show resistance that prevents them from acting in a self-supporting manner.

Although these children start experiencing a need to complete unfinished aspects, they do not feel ready to handle the pain associated therewith. They still depend on external support such as others prescribing to them how to solve the problem. Resistance during the impasse layer plays an important role in gestalt play therapy. Important informa- tion is obtained by assessment regarding the types of therapeutic experi- ences the child requires.

The child protects him- or herself by resisting pain Oaklander b. According to Oaklander , p. I must stop right here. This is too much! This is too hard! This is too dangerous. This indicates progress, as the child thus discards old strate- gies and moves to a new stage of development. This is also an indication for the therapist that there are significant aspects behind this resistance that should be addressed as soon as the child is ready for these.

Children intuitively know when they are strong enough to handle these aspects and this must guide the therapist Oaklander Children must be ready for moving through the impasse layer, since they experience resistance as painful. During the implosive layer, people start becoming aware of how they confine them- selves.

However, they have no energy for the behaviour required to free themselves from the impasse and a form of catatonic paralysis occurs. The child may feel paralysed by fear of the unknown and experience paralysis due to these opposing forces Clarkson ; Clarkson and Mackewn Children can start experimenting with new behaviour during this layer. They seem to be fully aware of their own behaviour and emotions, although they experience a lack of energy to take the responsibility for this in order to do something about it.

During this layer, children become aware of the emotions they express or suppress Aronstam Clarkson and Mackewn , p. Children who function from the explosive layer can start completing unfinished business and are capable of experiencing and expressing their true emotions. They thus acquire energy in order to complete unfinished business, to experience emotions and to experiment with new behaviour.

With the start of gestalt play therapy, children will normally function from the false layer of the personality, in that their behaviour will be directed mainly from external influences and introjects. As soon as they become aware of these, they will experience anxiety and a lack of security, since they do not know how to act otherwise and how to satisfy their needs in a more effective manner.

They will for example say to the therapist: When they reach the explosive layer, they begin to take responsibility for their behaviour and emotions and they can start experi- menting with new behaviour. Normally when children reach this layer, therapy can be terminated. The philosophy, theory and practice of gestalt therapy can also be used with slight adjustments in therapeutic work with children. Oaklander can be considered as the founder of gestalt play therapy.

Specific theoretical concepts can be considered typical of gestalt theory. The concept of holism is viewed as the most important theoretical concept. According to this theory, people are holistic entities, which implies that the sum total of their body, emotional and spiritual aspects, language, thought and behaviour is more than its parts.

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Children continuously experience needs of different natures, which cause discomfort until action is taken to satisfy these needs. This leads to homeostasis. Children have to organize their senses, thoughts, cognition and behaviour around a specific need until it is satisfied. Healthy organisms are capable of identifying the most dominant need on their foreground, in order to use resources within themselves or the envi- ronment to satisfy it.

Gestalt formation and destruction take place according to a specific process, namely pre-contact, sensation and awareness, the choice of a suitable action and mobilization, final contact, post-contact and withdrawal, whereupon the entire process repeats itself. The abilities for intra- and interpersonal contact-making are essential for satisfying needs and organismic self-regulation. Contact is established as soon as children use the environment to satisfy their needs.


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There are seven contact boundary disturbances, namely introjection, projection, confluence, retroflection, deflection, desensitization and egotism. Polarities can be regarded as opposites that complement or oppose each other. There are different forms of polarization, namely polarities in respect of emotions, characteristics of the self and characteristics of others. Conflict often arises between polarities within the individual and leads to a frag- mented existence.

During therapy, children should be guided to become aware of polarities within themselves and their life, in order to obtain integration of the self. The structure of the personality consists of five layers, namely the false layer, which represents the roles children play; the phobic layer, where children are aware of their synthetic play and thus experience anxiety; the impasse layer, where children are aware of the roles they play but resist acting in a self- supportive way; the implosive layer, where catatonic paralysis prevents children from being freed from their impasse; and the explosive layer, where new energy is acquired in order to complete unfinished business.

Children in this layer experience true emotions and experiment with new behaviour. The Gestalt Journal Press. Hofmeyer eds Handbook of Group Play Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality, 3rd edition. Concepts, Methods and Profession. A Play Therapy Approach. Wedding eds Current Psychotherapies, 4th edition. First the objectives of gestalt play therapy will be outlined, so that child therapists will be able to use these as a guideline during the process.

The gestalt play therapy model of Violet Oaklander, the founder of gestalt play therapy, will be used as a basis for the discussion on the gestalt play therapy process, as it was found in practice that this model provides the therapist with a structured guideline of what and how to work with children in need, in order to address their needs holistically. During each stage of the process a variety of experi- ences is provided for the child. The different phases and aspects that need to be addressed in each phase are summarized in Appendix 1.

Although a therapeutic process is followed during gestalt play therapy, there are some dynamics that may figure during each session. In Appendix 2, an illustration of the horizontal and vertical development of gestalt play therapy is given. The phases in the gestalt therapeutic process, as well as specific tech- niques that can be applied in that phase, will be discussed in this section, from Chapters 2 to 5.

Awareness, which includes choices and the taking of responsibility and contact, leads to natural change Yontef and Simkin The aim of gestalt play therapy with children is to make them aware of their own process. Awareness of their own process in the here and now leads to the discovery that choices with respect to emotional expression and needs satis- faction can be made and that they can explore with new behaviour Oaklander a, b. Other objectives are to teach them to be self-supporting by accepting responsibil- ity for themselves, and to facilitate the achievement of personal integration Thompson and Rudolph These aspects form the objectives of gestalt play therapy and are addressed simultaneously during the therapeutic process.

The objectives are consequently explained in more detail. Becoming an adult is regarded as the transition from environmental support to self-support Aronstam The gestalt play therapist will establish how children support them- selves in solving problems and will facilitate problem solving by means of self-regulation and self-support. According to Yontef , self-support includes both self-knowledge and self-acceptance. Assistance-rendering must guide children towards knowing and accepting themselves. They thus learn to accept increasingly more responsibility for their own existence and are capable of more realistic choices for their behaviour.

This does not imply, however, that children do not need other persons in their environment, but that they understand the relationship between the self and the environment Aronstam Self-support as an objective of gestalt play therapy implies that children are guided to take more responsibility for themselves and for satisfying their own needs, as well as making relevant choices in respect of satisfying their needs.

Although children must learn how to satisfy their own needs, younger children still depend to a great extent on the environment — such as their parents — for satisfying their needs. This objective in respect of pre-school children does not imply that these children should be self-supporting on the same level as an adult person. During gestalt play therapy, however, children should be guided to know, understand and accept themselves and their needs in order to exercise responsible choices in respect of satisfying their needs according to their age.

Awareness of needs, self-knowledge and self-acceptance and the ability to exercise choices and to take responsibility for these are also regarded as important skills which children should master regarding their emotional intelligence. Awareness brings clients into contact with their own needs and emotions and they thus learn to accept responsibility for who they are and what they do Aronstam It also means the awareness that the self is not responsible for the behaviour, attitudes and emotions of others, although this does not imply a lack of concern for the needs of others or an inability to react to their needs.

Responsibility, awareness, freedom and choices are different aspects of the same process, since the extent to which individuals have awareness and responsibility is also an indication of the extent to which they are free to choose their response, including actions, thoughts and attitudes.

As children become more aware of themselves in the therapeutic process — who they are, what they feel, what they like and do not like, what they need, what they do and how they do it — they also become more aware of the fact that they can exercise choices regarding the expression of their emotions, the ways in which they satisfy their needs and the exploration of new behaviour.

Awareness can be obtained by a variety of experiences and experiments during the process of gestalt play therapy Oaklander , a. The concepts of awareness, responsibility, choices and freedom are interdependent within the gestalt play therapeutic process, as these aspects influence one another. All these aspects should be taken into account during gestalt play therapy with children.

Integration can be consid- ered as the completion of an unfinished business to form a new entity. Gestalt therapy seeks to effect integration of body muscles, sensations, fantasies, thoughts and emotions. Integration as an objective of gestalt play therapy requires that children, as a holistic entity, must be helped to integrate their cognition, emotions, body and senses in order to complete unfinished business on their fore- ground.

The therapeutic relationship is considered the most fundamental aspect of the therapeutic process and therapy without it is worthless. Aspects that play a role in respect of this stage of the process are consequently discussed. The child asks him- or herself the following questions during the first contact: Contact occurs during the therapeutic process between the child and the therapist by means of building an I—thou relationship. The I—thou relationship means a relationship where both the therapist and the client are equals, irrespective of aspects such as their age or education Aronstam ; Clarkson ; Oaklander a; Yontef and Simkin The I—thou relationship implies that the therapist and the child, irre- spective of aspects such as age and status, are considered on an equal level.

Although children often at first experience it as unfamiliar when the therapist meets them on their level as equal persons, they normally find it easier to be themselves when they become used to it. An important aspect to take note of when building an I—thou relation- ship with children is multiculturalism. Play therapists must struggle to become competent with respect to all aspects of human culture and diversity. This is complicated by the present lack of diversity among mental health professionals, which may often mean that client and play therapist will be of different groups, making cultural diversity competence even more important in the conduct of good treatment.

Failure to become competent with respect to diversity increases chances that the play therapist will not succeed in helping a client find ways to get his or her needs met only to ignore or override the needs of the cultural group of which he or she is a member. As members of the middle class, play therapists tend to value long- range planning, adherence to schedules, and to have a high tolerance for ambiguity. Therefore it may be difficult for some play therapists to see the world through the eyes of their clients.

In order to establish an I—thou relationship during gestalt play therapy, the therapist will have to strive to become cultur- ally and diversity competent. First, to have the ability to recognize diversity in others, the play therapist must have a sound sense of his or her own identity with respect to member- ship in a wide variety of groups. Second, the play therapist must accept that humans often experience differences as threatening and must try to over- come these perceptions.

Lastly, the play therapist must accept the existence of biases, myths and stereotypes. In order to build an I—thou relationship with the child, the therapist may need to have a solid base of the knowledge about the cultural group to which the child belongs. The therapist must act openly and congru- ently and the child must be met with respect, without judgement or manipu- lation. Although the therapist can have objectives and a plan, he or she should not have any expectations in respect of the session, as each session is an existential experience.

The therapist also creates a safe environment where the relationship in itself can be valuable for the child, as it is often an experience that is unique and new to the child Oaklander a, , b. During therapeutic work with children, the I—thou relationship implies that the child should be treated openly, with respect and congruence, and that the child should at no stage be judged or manipulated. Similarly, no specific expectations regarding the events in the session should be made.

Oaklander describes the I—thou relationship as follows: I will respect her rhythm and will attempt to join her in that rhythm; I will be present and contactful. In this way our relationship flourishes. Children sometimes decide in one session that they trust the therapist. Oaklander mentions that she will never let a child wait in the waiting room while she is talking with his or her parents in her office. That which the parents want to say about the child must be said in his or her presence. This action is considered the start of a relationship of trust with the child.

These notes are often read to the children. The way in which the first meeting with the child is handled will have a direct influence on the development of the thera- peutic relationship and the relationship of trust with the child. If children see that the therapist touches on all the aspects that are discussed with their parents in their presence, they will often find it easier to trust the therapist. Transfer occurs normally in any relationship. However, Oaklander discourages this. Therapists must also be honest and open and not be afraid of their own emotions and limitations.

They must take cognizance of their own restrictions and must accept themselves, including their humaneness and imperfections. The most significant aspect which therapists bring into therapy is the dimension of themselves. The therapist must also be emotionally mature in order to be able to act with empathy, without becoming emotionally overinvolved with the child. Furthermore, therapists who work with children must be in contact with the child in themselves.

Therapists who value their own creativity and ability to play will also be able to allow children to play creatively and spontaneously Axline , p. During the therapeutic process, gestalt play therapists must remain aware of their own experiences and restrictions, in order to limit transfer between themselves and the children, and to act as persons in their own right.

Therapists must also remain aware of the boundaries that distinguish them from the children in order to prevent emotional overinvolvement. Therapists must, however, also be in contact with their inner child, in order to be able to make effective contact with children. The influence of events from the past and expectations for the future are not denied, but growth cannot take place by recreating the past or by predicting the future.

The only reality with which the therapist can work is the here and now because the child can only experience the present. The therapist is interested in how unfinished business affects the child client at the present moment Aronstam ; Yontef and Simkin Gestalt therapy emphasizes that both the client and the therapist are responsible for themselves. Therapists are responsible for the quality and quantity of their presence, for knowledge about themselves and their clients and for maintaining the awareness and contact processes of the clients, as well as for establishing and maintaining a therapeutic atmosphere Yontef ; Yontef and Simkin Clients, on the other hand, are responsible for the way in which they experience life, as well as the minute-to-minute choices they make to act or not to act in a specific way Clarkson Children often do not come to therapy out of their own free will.

Therefore one of the first tasks of therapists is to guide children from no responsibility to self-determination. The first session plays an important role in respect of this: From the gestalt perspective, the therapeutic relationship rests on the fact that both the child and the therapist must accept responsibility for their own experiences, choices and behaviour. Deliberate attention should be paid to this when building the therapeutic relationship with children, as they often do not go for therapy out of their own choice.

From the gestalt therapy perspective, direct experience is the only way in which learning can take place. The gestalt therapist avoids counselling and interpretation during therapy and rather focuses on creating an atmosphere within which the client can discover what is important. Clients can then react to the information as it is important to them. The therapist is primarily a catalyst in the process of therapy Aronstam ; Yontef Oaklander a adds that any interpretation by the therapist must be verified with the child.

The primary aim of the gestalt play therapist is to help children to become aware of their process. The focus is on the experience of the process, what children do and how they do it, who they are, what they feel and what they want. Experience plays a primary role in respect of therapeutic work with children. Because they are provided with various experiences and experi- ments, they can increasingly become aware of themselves.

Experience becomes intense as the various aspects of the self are integrated when children start experiencing themselves in a new way. This can be regarded as the manifestation of energy and is also an indication of the contact level of the child. Resistance is also considered a healthy response since children who do not show resistance in general have a poor sense of self. The therapist thus expects the child to show a degree of resistance and respects it. High levels of resistance, however, have a negative impact on satisfac- tory contact-making between the therapist and the child.

As children begin to feel safer during the therapeutic process, they should be ready to move through it. However, if children come into contact with that which they see their way clear doing at that stage and have the energy to support them- selves, resistance could manifest again. Resistance can thus occur repeatedly during the therapeutic process Oaklander , b.

Due to specific reasons such as that they do not feel safe or because they do not have a sufficiently strong sense of self, children have to be resistant, by breaking contact with the therapist. Although the repeated incidence of resistance during the therapeutic process should be considered normal, high levels of continuous resistance in the child will normally have a negative influence on contact-making between the therapist and the child. Resistance can manifest in different ways during the therapeutic process. Some children reveal resistance unconsciously, but they are inhibited in such a way that they first need experience in a number of safer activities.

An effective technique for handling resistance is for the therapist to do that which is expected of the child. The therapist thus takes his or her turn, for example, to draw or do a puppet-show. Another way in which resistance may be handled is by reflecting it to the child by saying, for instance: Some children find difficulty in building a relationship and do not quickly overcome the initial resistance. These children have often experi- enced severe emotional trauma, especially at an early age.

For these children, therapy focuses on building a relationship. The therapist has an important task to find creative, non-threatening ways to make contact with these children. It can also happen that while children are busy with a play therapy activity, their energy level suddenly drops and they break contact with the therapist. This can for instance be observed in their body posture. Stopping the play therapy activity and playing a game in order to restore contact can in this case redress contact with children.

Resistance can manifest in a passive manner in that children ignore the therapist by pretending that they do not hear what is being said, or by beginning to do something else other than that proposed by the therapist. In this case, it is important to develop a sufficiently strong sense of self in children, so that they will be able to communicate verbally that they do not want to do what the therapist is asking them to do.

The way in which it should be handled depends on when and how it manifests during the therapeutic process. The therapist must be sensitive to the way in which resistance manifests, in order to react to it in an appropriate way. Some children, as a result of trauma, may find difficulty in building relationships. This is regarded as resistance. The therapist will have to spend more time with these children in order to build the therapeutic relationship.

When these boundaries are not available, children tend to feel anxious and their sense of self has no structure. Parents also need to know when it is suitable to broaden the boundaries and in respect of each level of development so that the child is afforded the opportunity to find new areas for exploration.

Boundaries and limitations are necessary during the thera- peutic process for the same reason Oaklander This gives structure to the development of the therapeutic relationship, since growth cannot take place within a chaotic disorganized relationship Landreth According to Landreth and van der Merwe , setting boundaries has the following advantages during the therapeutic process: Boundaries provide a structure for the development of the therapeutic rela- tionship, which contributes to the experience of physical and emotional security in the child.

Boundaries and limitations during the play therapy session can contribute to giving the child the opportunity to make choices and to take responsibility for these. For young children the play therapy sessions can be at the most 45 minutes, as they can concentrate for only a limited period. Children must be warned when the time is almost over so that they can expe- rience that they have the time to complete the task Landreth ; van der Merwe Children will ignore the therapist when she warns that the time is almost up, or they will try to start playing something else.

Sometimes they will also ask the therapist if they may stay longer. In accordance with the above-mentioned authors, it was thus found that during each session the child needs to be warned when the time is almost over. Furthermore, children are normally not allowed to take toys home Axline , p. According to Oaklander , the child should for instance not be allowed to throw paint around in the playroom and she expects the child to help her clean up at the end of the session, except when they are playing in the sand tray.

Ter- mination of the activity is thus made explicit to the child. The amount of water that the child may throw in the sand tray should also be restricted. Too much water in the sand tray can result in the next child not being able to use it, as the sand can take weeks to dry out. It happens in particular that a child who is especially interested in an item, for instance a little car, expresses the need to borrow it. However, children understand when it is explained to them that other children also come to the playroom and that the toys should rather not be removed from the playroom.

Any attack on the therapist must immediately be stopped. The therapeutic relationship is built on mutual respect and physical injuries to the child or therapist must be prevented Axline ; McMahon ; van der Merwe Practical experience has shown that if a positive I—thou relationship is established, it is associated with mutual respect, and that children seldom find it necessary to display aggressive behaviour towards the therapist if they are given the opportunity to offload aggressive energy in an acceptable manner, such as by means of various play activities.

Children must learn that they cannot run away from their responsibilities, and that their commitment to the relationship means that problems are worked through Landreth ; van der Merwe However, other persons, for example the parents, may be allowed under special circumstances.

The therapist must also guard against substituting the role of the absent parent van der Merwe However, as soon as the relationship of friendship is established and the children start trusting the therapist, they are no longer concerned about whether their parents are present or not. They may take off a jersey or shoes.

Children are normally allowed to swear in the playroom, but not so that people outside the room can hear them, for instance leaning out the window and swearing van der Merwe Practical experience has shown that children in particular like taking off their shoes, but it seldom if ever happens that a child wants to undress com- pletely. A distinction can be made between the various boundaries as part of the therapeutic process. If all the boundaries are set during the first session, children know what to expect, but this can also draw their attention to negative behaviour about which they would probably not have thought on their own, such as throwing sand at the therapist Axline ; Oaklander According to van der Merwe , certain boundaries, such as the duration of the session, can be explained to the child during the first session in order to prevent disappointment in the child.

The boundary must be set in such a way for children that they are given the responsibility to make choices in order to change their behaviour Landreth It is agreed that certain boundaries such as the time boundary should be set at the start of the session, whereas other boundaries such as the use of toys should be set when the need for these boundaries arises.

Step 2 Communicate the boundary specifically, for example: Step 3 Set acceptable alternatives for expressing emotions, for example: He or she must move patiently two to three times through steps 1 to 3. If the child still breaks the boundary, proceed with step 4. Step 4 Set the final choice slowly to the child so that he or she realizes he or she has a choice, for example: When setting boundaries, children should experience that they have a choice and that they must accept responsibility for the consequences of their choice.

She mentions that this information can be interesting reading matter, but that the only aspect with which she can really work is the way in which children present themselves within the therapeutic situation. If one relies on the information provided to the therapist as the basis for the therapeutic process, attention will have to be paid to that which is written rather than to the child.

She mentions the following: The way in which children present themselves during therapeutic sessions is thus the only aspect that can be assessed. The study of reports on children can contribute to unfounded interpretations. Children are normally seen in the presence of their parents at the beginning of the first session. A discussion is held on the reasons why the child was brought for therapy. The author makes sure that children under- stand what their parents are saying and that they are given the opportunity to voice their opinion.

Children often say they do not know why they had to come to the play therapist. Parents also sometimes feel uncomfortable about telling their children the reasons for bringing them for therapy. Some parents tell their children that they are just going to play nicely, or that the therapist is going to help them with their schoolwork. It seems that parents are in general themselves uncomfortable about the idea of bringing their children for therapy. One child, aged eight, brought a textbook with him to the play session, as his parents had told him that the therapist was going to help him to read better.

The gestalt play therapist must be very honest with children and can say something like: This questionnaire is handled with the parents in a parent guidance session after the third session with the child. No information about the play sessions is shared with the parents without the permission of the child. Parents are seen in this way about once a month.

This guideline assesses children holistically in accordance with the gestalt theory approach by taking the various aspects of their holistic self into account. When doing assessment, the therapist should keep in mind what the goal of the assessment is. It is important to remember that the goal of assessment in gestalt play therapy is not just to get certain information out of the child. Therefore, when applying certain techniques for the purpose of assessment, the therapist must make sure that the child feels safe enough to become involved in the specific activity. Assessment is an ongoing process and although the first few sessions are more evaluative in nature, it actually forms part of every session.