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Some information about our history…



In 1984, three young psychoanalysts in Zurich had an inspiring idea: they wanted to work with patients who suffered not only from psychological problems, but also physical illness. At the time, barely any psychotherapeutic support was available for such children whose parents did not have the funds to pay for the substantial cost of private psychotherapeutic counseling. In cooperation with the Kinderspital Zürich (University Children’s Hospital Zurich), children suffering from a life-threatening illness could be offered therapy free of charge.


With the Marie-Meierhofer Institut für das Kind as patronage, studies and lectures gradually evolved from these practical experiences.  Understanding the development of every individual child in the course of therapy has been one of our main concerns until today; this understanding helps us to continually improve our treatment of healthy and sick children.


What began as an informal “entrée” in the outpatient clinic of the Children’s Hospital developed into a milestone of Swiss psycho-oncology in the form of scientific publications and three self-produced films, which were distributed to children suffering from cancer in Swiss hospitals. (Information on all publications can be found at



In the 1990s we were able to produce a pilot project on behalf of the Schweizer Krebsliga (Swiss cancer society) for children suffering from cancer, which lead to several further publications and introduced the practical work to the general public.


It became more and more obvious that not only children suffering from an illness could tremendously benefit from this special form of play-oriented therapy. By means of a puppets, sandplay, drawing, collages, conversations and much more, young people can express intense and sometimes overwhelming emotions which are constellated during difficult times in life. Our standardized session protocols enable us to constantly record the developments during therapeutic sessions in detail, review and refine our treatment methods and optimize their quality.


In 1991, we moved to Spyristrasse 7 in Zurich, where we set up one of the most extensive playrooms in all of Switzerland. Additional playrooms followed. Children and adolescents quickly feel at home in this paradise environment of expressive options and coziness and are only too happy to find their own creative way to convey their needs and thereby find a new sense of self-esteem and zest for life.


In the year of 1994, patronage changed from the Marie-Meierhofer Institut für das Kind to the Marie-Louise von Franz Institute for Studies in Synchronicity (MLFI), which was especially created for this purpose.  Since then, Spielzeit has been a project of the MLFI.


By the year 1999, around 12’000 hours of psychotherapeutic treatment had been carried out. Some of these were completed free of charge, some with the aid of donations and some financed by insurances. Because of our years of experience in therapeutic treatment and research, more than 30 interns from different Swiss universities have completed their training or continued education at Spielzeit.



By the mid-nineties, the nature of applications for therapy started to change. More and more children with physical or mental challenges came to us through the corresponding specialist centres, schools or parent’s associations. Their requests corresponded with our original work philosophy: children with special forms of distress such as physical disabilities, congenital impairments and other illnesses had as much a right and need for treatment as children suffering from cancer or trauma.


Since 1998, we also provide specialized psychotherapeutic treatment for children with different forms of congenital impairments or disabilities as well as for children with learning impairments such as attention deficit disorders.


This extension of our range of services meant that our team had to rise to a new set of challenges. The question of how to support these young people in the best way possible was the core part of our research project EDG, which was conducted with the assistance of the Stiftung Cerebral Schweiz (Swiss Foundation for Children with Cerebral Palsy).


Since 2003, in addition to the continuous intensive therapeutic work, we have published articles on various aspects of child psychotherapy and realized projects which are based on the many years of our therapeutic experience. By these means, the aggression intervention program AGGRIP® was developed in the year 2007 in international cooperation with the Israeli welfare system; the intervention program provides specialists with new possibilities for dealing with aggressive behavior in an attentive and non-violent way, and will now also be implemented in German-speaking countries.



More recently, Spielzeit has also been concentrating on counseling other professionals and teaching; This is due to the fact that our practical activity - which today we call the Spielzeit Method - has proven to be so highly effective and successful over the years. Today, in an individualized manner our team looks after a wide variety of youngsters with and without physical impairments.