Already at an early age children experience an intense emotional life. Melanie Klein (1882–1960), a pioneer of child analysis, recognised the importance of spontaneous play in children as a form of free association and made it a tool of analytical practice. She invented what came to be known as ‘the play technique’: simple toys, crayons and paper pads are at the disposal of children during the analytical session. The pictures or toys scenarios and the ways in which the child acts offer clues to the analyst, though the focus is on the recurring patterns that emerge through play and on the underpinning anxieties that this indicates.
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