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Introduction

Play Therapy is a specific counselling approach in which games, toys and media such as clay, drawings and paint are used to help a child or adolescent to express their emotions, thoughts, wishes and needs. It helps them to understand muddled feelings and upsetting events that they have not had the chance or the skills to sort out properly. Rather than having to explain verbally what is troubling them, as adult therapy usually expects, children use play to communicate at their own level and at their own pace, without feeling interrogated or threatened. The therapist is warm, open, non-judgmental, does not interpret or question, and maintains containing boundaries at all times.

Counselling is usually verbal interaction between a therapist and a client. Usually individuals choose to have therapy because they are experiencing difficulties and distress in their lives. Other life issues and events which can be very difficult to deal with include bereavement, divorce, redundancy, health issues, bullying and so on. However, you do not have to be in crisis or on the verge of one, before choosing to have therapy. The therapists aims to be impartial, and be able to express warmth and empathy to assist you to talk openly about your feelings and emotions. They should also be non judgmental (this means not judging what a person discloses about themselves, their attitudes or behaviours); fair; open and trustworthy to enable a respectful working relationship to develop between them and the individual.

For Parents

Parents and carers often worry when a child has a problem that causes them to be sad, disruptive, anxious, unable to cope or inattentive. You may be concerned about a child's development, eating or sleeping patterns and how they are getting along with family, friends and at school. You may also feel guilty, that you are not able to help them. Feeling responsible for a child’s distress is a normal part of caring, and the fact that you have a commitment to address the problem is a massive part of helping your child.

Is something troubling them? Perhaps they are displaying one or more of the following behaviours, in which case play therapy may be able to help:

  • Withdrawal
  • Bed wetting
  • Sleeping problems
  • Eating problems
  • Excessive anger
  • Immature behaviour
  • Self harm
  • School refusal
  • Inappropriate Sexual behaviour

For schools

Having a child in class who is not able to enjoy their education and reach their full potential can be both upsetting for the child and their family, and disruptive and concerning for the teacher and the child’s classmates. Play therapy benefits both the child and the teaching staff by facilitating improvements in a number of areas such as:

  • Listening
  • Communication with others
  • Attendance
  • Reduced exclusions
  • Concentration
  • Participation in group work
  • Social skills
  • Fostering imagination and creativity
  • Supporting emotional healing and growth

I also offer group work, such as nurturing groups, social skills groups and anger management / expression groups. I can provide workshops for staff, based on the therapeutic principles of play therapy and introductions to using the ‘toolkit’, tailored to your staff’s needs. See ‘Training’ for further details.