The therapy mascot
Gelotology, more commonly known as smile therapy, is the discipline that he studies and applies
the potential for laughing and positive emotions for therapy, prevention and rehabilitation.
The gelotological approach tends to research, experiment and apply relational modalities that they know
positively involve the emotional sphere of the person. This discipline takes its cue from the approach
science of PsicoNeuroEndocrinoImmunologia (PNEI), using the very close relationships between
body, mind and emotions, in order to improve immune balance and psycho-relational skills.
Mascot Therapy, also known as Plush Therapy, represents a branch of Gelotology.
As well as "the teddy bear of the heart", which from the cradle supports the child in its growth, also the
mascot assumes fundamental importance, playing the role of an already known and familiar element
when the child is hospitalized and consequently extrapolated from their comfort zone.
In hospitals, especially in the pediatric field, his figure fulfills the function of
facilitator of the treatment process, as it was found the effectiveness of his intervention implemented through
the use of laughter and fun as privileged therapeutic tools. The mascot is a figure
of support and concrete help to the therapeutic paths of hospitalized children, who due to the
psychophysical trauma to which they are subjected, they need help in managing the feelings and emotions more
tearing. Playful practice is for them a modality that intends to help dominate, contain or free
emotions and tensions that otherwise they would not be able to manage. Laughter therefore plays a double role
effect, both preventive and curative, in relation to many physical and psychological pathologies and it has been
proven to work as an antidote to stress. Stress causes hormones to rise
including cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, which have a secondary effect
lowering of the immune defenses. On the contrary, laughter reduces the production of cortisol
increasing the body's defenses.
Smile therapy in therapeutic contexts
The hospital is one of those places where the child most needs to play, to externalize and to
try to manage all those fears and insecurities that illness and hospitalization cause him
inevitably. Hospitalized children need magic and fantasy that in a language to them
understandable, offer a vision that helps them overcome obstacles and cope with the disease. As a result of the illness and subsequent hospitalization, children can react to what
they are living according to two negative and counterproductive mechanisms:
1) Regression: the child seems to withdraw into himself, does not want to interface with others and appears
no longer have an interest in games;
2) Denial: the child not only does not cooperate in the care, but refuses to be treated and seeks in all
ways of opposing the work of adults, as if denying the fact of being sick stops being sick.
Precisely in these moments, the experience of the game can be of fundamental importance to him to succeed
create positive emotions within oneself that help to regain psychophysical well-being. The mascot, therefore,
intervenes to try to remove the pitfalls that hide behind suffering, i.e. fear,
loneliness and detachment, stimulating the recovery of self-esteem and trust in others, facilitating relationships
and collaboration. The laughter that she tries to stimulate with her speech is a real act
therapeutic that causes changes on a psychophysical level, stimulating at the same time a better one
reactivity to the disease, accelerating the healing process and facilitating medical treatments, making them
so more effective. The mascot has among its main objectives the reduction of suffering, acting for the
distraction from pain and for the reduction of anxiety, stress and tension, favoring where possible the
reducing the need for drugs and reaching the goal of recovery. It is necessary
consider the child as an individual and not as a sick person. Understanding how a
child can experience the disease and any hospitalization can facilitate and improve the work that
the hospital team must carry out in close collaboration with the patient and his parents.
Smile therapy, intended as an adjunct to traditional medical therapies, can improve the
quality of life of chronic patients as laughter has an immediate relief effect on symptoms,
at the same time also increasing the immune system, an effect that is enhanced if
laughter is induced regularly for a time.