This article concerns a therapeutic intervention with a group of abandoned children living in a Romanian pediatric hospital. The children, ranging in age from one to ten years old, had suffered chronic neglect and abuse. They had previously spent most of their lives tied in the same cot in the same hospital ward. They were poorly fed and their nappies were rarely changed. Although able to see and hear the other abused children, they experienced little in the way of social interaction. The article focuses on the play-based methods that were employed to aid the children’s recovery, while at the same time highlighting the general benefits of this very specific therapeutic approach to children’s recovery and development. In particular, there is an exploration of concepts such as symbolic representation, negative capability, joining, and the significance of play cues. However, despite the clear value of these individually focused techniques, the article proposes the tentative hypothesis that the most powerful healing factor was the unfettered playful interaction between the children themselves. In other words, the children in a very real sense may have healed each other while playing.
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