Now that I have decided that I will be designing for young children in play therapy sessions I have produced a rough draft for my statement of intent that I will help me focus on exactly what I want to design.
Statement of Intent
The aim of the project is to design a play table/toy that will be used in play therapy sessions for children. This play equipment will help the development of children in their therapy sessions. It will allow the children to develop social skills and express their feelings/emotions. It will give the children in play therapy sessions a specific area that is theirs to play at.
- For children age 4-6years old in play therapy
- For use in therapy rooms/sessions
- Has to be engaging, relaxing and comfortable
- Allows room for expression
- Environments the Play table will be used:-In school sessions
- -Private Therapy sessions
There are a few options for where the play table will be used as there are different Play Therapy environments. It could be produced directly for a Play Therapy association who work privately or through the NHS. It could also be produced for use in a School environment.
There would be user group testing to see how the Play Table proposal would work with the target market; this would be either with children of the correct age or with adult professionals in that field. The proposal would be presented to the adult to receive feedback.
The first outcome of the project would be some soft prototyping to use for testing to see how the proposal would work. Then there will be a 1:1 scale CAD model to show the visuals of the concept. These models will allow time for final refinements/modifications before the final model is produced. The final concept will be produced at a 1:1 scale; this could then possibly be used in user group testing.
The target age range I will aim the project at is children between the age of four and six years; they will benefit the most through this type of therapy based on Piaget’s Learning Levels.
Four to six years of age places the children in the Preoperational stage of Piaget’s learning levels. In the Preoperational stage children believe that objects such as dolls and teddy’s have emotions and feelings. In this age range children don’t use make believe so their play represents a reflection of their own lives. Their thoughts, feelings and expressions can be represented using objects and events. So this means at this age Play therapy can be used to gain an understanding of the child’s present problems and help to resolve them.
As I am looking a such a young age group in Play therapy I have decided I want to decide some sort of play table for the children to use in their sessions. There are different environments that Play therapy can be used; I would like to design for the use in Schools.
Toys used in Play Therapy
There are different types of toys that can be used in play therapy so it’s very important that they are selected with care; different toys can be used to treat different problems. The use of the toys means that the children can creatively express themselves which removes the need for verbal communication that some children find hard. By keeping the child’s attention and interest in the play it allows the therapist to gain contact with the child; which allows them to assess the child thoroughly for their needs.
The types of toys used in play therapy can be categorized into three different groups:
Real life toys which allow the child to act out real life situations and events that have caused them problems; this allows them to relate to the situation, these include puppets and dolls.
Aggressive toys which allow the child to express frustration and anger; these include toy soldiers and foam swords.
Emotional and expressive release toys which allow the child to express how they are feeling; these include sand and building blocks, where different children will produce different outcomes when given the same materials.
After further research into cognitive behavioural therapy I found that it is most commonly used to treat depression and anxiety which I feel is more of an adult theme. When looking into alternative therapies that involve children I came across ‘Play Therapy’.
Play therapy allows children to express their feelings and situations that have caused unwanted feelings at their own level; they can use play rather than being sat and questioned by a therapist. Some children find communicating verbally hard so by using this type of therapy it allows all types of children to express and learn. In the sessions there will be a variety of toys for the child to choose from to play with; to express themselves. There are two different types of Play therapy; Non- directive where the child has complete control of the play and Directive where the therapist guides the child.
Play therapy can be used for children that are of four years or older which is ideal for the age range that I would like to design for. I feel I can relate to this topic in a way as when I was a young child I attended speech therapy. In those sessions I was given toys to play with to get me to talk to the therapist; these toys helped me to feel comfortable in the environment. The toys I played with included; puzzles, building blocks and word cards. The aim of toys in the speech therapy was to make me feel comfortable with the therapist and hep me to speak to them.
The use of toys in play therapy is similar as the child need to feel safe and comfortable in the environment and allows them to communicate at their own level.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
I have decided that I want to design for children for my Final Major project as I feel strongly about this area; I feel I will be able to produce something that will keep me interested as I enjoy the topic. More specifically I will design for young children somewhere between the age of four and eight years of age as it appeals more to me. After looking into different user groups to do with children I have been looking into different psychotherapies; these are types of therapies that can help alter and change children’s behaviours. I found the topic of cognitive behavioural therapy:
‘Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.’
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy changes the way the child looks at their problems through talking. It can’t eliminate the problem completely but it opens up their minds to a different perspective; creating a more positive way of thinking. CBT is not used to deal with issues from patients past but to deal with current issues they deal with day to day. CBT can be used to treat many different conditions such as anxiety, depression, phobias and behavioural problems.
While I continued to research for themes for my Final major project the RSA briefs were published for the minor project. Once I had read through the different briefs I made the decision straight away to design for the ‘Fair Play’ brief. The fair play brief was all about redesigning a toy and it’s packaging to create a new play experience and to reduce waste. I immediately chose the fair play brief as it was about designing for children which I prefer; this allows me to enjoy what product I am designing.
So with the influence of the fair play project and the mobile phone project I decided that I wanted to design for Children as that interests me most. Now I just needed to research into different topics surrounding children in the market.
When in my second year of Product Design I entered one of my projects into a design competition in the summer of 2014. The project that I entered was a mobile phone design called baby bond; I entered it into the Mobile Phone awards 2014. My design was then shortlisted into the top five designs and during the summer I went to London where the winner would be announced. The design I produced was designed around helping the on the go mum; so was designed specifically for the use by women. After going to London I found that my design came 2nd which I was very happy with. The reason I believe I did so well was because I felt so strongly about the theme of the design; designing for women and children.
I came to the decision that I wanted to carry on with the theme of designing for women and children. I started researching into different themes around women. I looked into designing something for women in pregnancy to women in less developed countries that may have problems in every day life. I was still unsure specifically what route to go down.