What is Play Therapy?
Play therapy is a type of treatment used to help children with social, emotional, or behaviour problems. The play therapist uses an holistic model, based on the works of Virginia Axline, working with unconscious as well as conscious processes and integrates the therapeutic use of a wide range of creative arts media known as the Play Therapy Toolkit:- drawing and painting, water and clay, Sandplay and miniatures, guided imagery and relaxation techniques, drama therapy, puppetry, poetry, movement, and music therapy.
The therapist uses both non-directive and directive approaches, and extensive research informs and is integrated with practice. Play Therapy is basically child psychotherapy through the medium of play and aims to build a child’s ability to develop healthy relationships and to work through traumatic experiences which may be dysregulating them.
During sessions a child may want to use the toolkit to express the things that they struggle to say, and they can do this through the wide range of resources that are available. The child may also wish to invite the play therapist into their play, which can be done. The therapist will mirror what the child is doing or saying verbally and through body language to bring their feelings into their awareness. Over a number of sessions, a trusting therapeutic relationship will be developed with the child and therapist.
Benefits of sessions
- Non-threatening way of communicating and expressing feelings that are difficult to express verbally
- Trusting therapeutic relationship is developed between the child and therapist
- Sessions are child led with some direction at times if the child wishes
- All decisions, no matter how small, that are made by the child are noticed and congratulated to empower the child and lead to an increase in confidence and self esteem
Sessions will be 40 minutes long, and will always be on the same day and time that is convenient for them so that they are not missing out on anything they don’t want to. The child will have the option to come to sessions or not and can leave at any point during the session if they wish.
‘’Addressing difficult emotions or events can be hard for children as they have not developed emotionally or cognitively enough to understand their feelings fully. This can then lead to frustration, anger and sadness. Sessions allow the child to have a safe space where they can express themselves through play and language and work through the difficulties. This is then witnessed by the play therapist. Safety and boundaries will also be key in this, as the therapist holds the sessions for the child. This allows them to feel supported, safe and able to approach their feelings’’.
The Referral Process
The referral process involves the teacher, SENCo and parent/carer. The referral can be made by anyone of these people. A parent/carer interview is carried out to obtain more background information about the child. During the interview a consent form and Goodman’s strengths and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ) is filled in to establish the area of difficulties. This falls into four categories; emotional symptoms, conduct problems, hyperactivity/inattention and peer relationship problems. The SDQ will also be filled in with the child if appropriate.
Providing that consent is given an introductory meeting is held with the child, and this will be agreed and spoken about beforehand with them to prevent any initial anxieties. During the meeting the reasons for referral will be discussed in a child friendly way and they will be shown around the room. The day and time of sessions taken place will also be spoken about to see that this suits them. This is to prevent them from missing out on anything in school that they particularly enjoy or that is important.
If you would like to discuss making a referral this can be done by calling the main office and asking to be put through to Stephanie the play therapist at the school.
Midway reviews and meetings
Midway reviews take place at session 10, but can take place at any point while the child is in therapy. This includes updates on how they are getting on in sessions.
Preferably meetings taking place at the school in the play therapy room is desirable as this allows parents and carers to take a look at the room and have this experience. However, if this is not possible meetings would take place by phone.
Play Therapy is confidential
Sessions are confidential, this is to build up a trusting relationship with the child. Brief updates can be given to parents and teachers who are wanting to find out more about sessions. However, the only time information would be shared with the safeguarding lead is if the child or someone else isn’t safe. Children are made aware of this at the pre meeting also.
Who is the play therapist?
My name is Stephanie, and I am the play therapist at the school. I have over 11 years’ experience in a variety of children’s settings including nurseries, schools, residential settings, leaving care and supervising families. I am a qualified play therapist and have an undergraduate BA Honours in children’s and young people’s learning and development as well as a postgraduate certificate in therapeutic play skills. As a therapist it is an ongoing requirement that I undertake regular Continuous Professional Development Courses (CPD). This enables me to keep updated with new knowledge, policies, standards that will improve my skills.
I am a registered member of Play Therapy United Kingdom (PTUK) and practice in line with their ethical framework that has been developed in conjunction with play therapy international (PTI). I receive regular clinical supervision externally to oversee my clinical work and anything that may come up for myself.
Additional support and information
|Talking to your child about feelings - NHS||Beacon House Resources|
Play Therapy Space