A paper by Professor Toshio Kawai and Senior Lecturer Chihiro Hatanaka, Assistant Professor Yuka Suzuki and Dr. Hisae Konakawa has been published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
A paper by Professor Toshio Kawai and Senior Lecturer Chihiro Hatanaka, Assistant Professor Yuka Suzuki and Dr. Hisae Konakawa has been published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (Volume 17, Issue. 23).
Kawai, T., Suzuki, Y., Hatanaka, C., Konakawa, H., Tanaka, Y., Uchida, A. (2020). Gender Differences in Psychological Symptoms and Psychotherapeutic Processes in Japanese Children. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 17 (23), 9113.
This article was inspired by gender differences in expression that the authors have experienced in clinical practices like sandplay and play therapy, as well as by findings from previous studies which show that children’s psychological problems tend to be externalized in boys, but internalized in girls.
From several epidemiological studies, such as the DSM-5, disorders featuring symptoms with the most common age of onset under 15 years old, as well as disorders that have gender differences in the incidence, were selected for investigation. These disorders included tic disorder and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) which are more common in male clinical samples, and selective mutism and trichotillomania which are more common in female clinical samples. The purpose of this study was to investigate gender differences in the process of play therapy for children with a symptom described above (84 clinical cases), paying special attention to the direction of self-expression and aggression.
The results showed that during the course of play therapy, children with tic disorders could control their impulsive energy, and children with ASD could establish a sense of self and differentiate their physical world. Namely, boys were challenged to work on differentiation and controlling aggression. On the other hand, children with selective mutism began to express hidden psychical energy and children with trichotillomania began to indirectly express their aggression that was previously self-directed. That is to say, girls were challenged to express emotions and energy outwardly.
In this study, the characteristics of male and female psychological development in the process of play therapy were clarified. In addition, it can be an interesting implication for the topic of gender that the integration of a tendency commonly associated with the other genders in normal development was indicated as a therapeutic goal for the opposite gender—for boys, internalization, and for girls, externalization—.
*Open Access to the Article
(Reported by Hisae Konakawa, Research Fellow)