Information for children and young people
What is play therapy?
Play therapy is a time each week for you to spend with your play therapist in a playroom. The playroom has many toys and materials that you can choose from.
Playing is very important and play therapy can be a good way for children to use play to sort out muddled feelings.
Why am I going to play therapy?
The grown-ups in your life might have noticed that you seem sad, scared or angry about something.
You might be doing things that get you into trouble or you might feel like crying a lot.
It can be really hard to talk about how you feel so play therapy can help you feel better without having to explain anything.
What does a play therapist do?
After your play therapist has met with your grown-ups, you will meet at the same time each week in the playroom. You will be able to choose what you want to play with and how you want to play with it. Your play therapist won't ask you questions or expect you to explain anything.
Will other people find out about my play therapy?
You don't have to tell anyone about your play therapy. What you choose to do in the playroom is private and it is up to you if you want to talk about it.
Your play therapist will also keep it private and won't tell other people what happens unless they are worried and need to keep you safe.
Your play therapist will meet with your grown-ups from time to time, just to let them know how you are doing.
Is my child worrying about something?
Parents may become concerned if their child appears to be sad, anxious, disruptive, rebellious or unable to concentrate on activities or at school. Parents may also notice that their child is having trouble sleeping or eating or have concerns about their child's development or social relationships.
All children are different and the way they perceive their experiences is unique and this can sometimes lead to emotional difficulties. Often, parents feel responsible for their child's feelings and behaviour, and may worry that others will judge their parenting. However, being concerned and seeking help is a sign of a caring commitment to do the best for your child.
What is play therapy?
Play therapy provides children with opportunities to work through their problems in a developmentally appropriate way, without having to explain; through play and creative activities. The play therapist is led by the child and aims to form a trusting therapeutic relationship with them, so that they feel free to express themselves in any way they wish.
How will play therapy help?
Play therapy does not aim to fix a child's problems but there can be many benefits, including improved self-esteem, greater self-control and self-awareness, reduced anxiety, improved ability to cope and greater resilience, improvements in the way the child manages relationships, improvements in behaviour and a better understanding of past experiences.
What happens in play therapy sessions?
Play therapy sessions take place in a specially set-up playroom. The room includes a variety of toys and creative materials which the child is able to choose from and play with in almost any way they wish, with very few limitations. This permissive environment, combined with the accepting and non-judgemental relationship that the therapist develops with the child, provides the right conditions for the child to freely express themselves and work through their emotional difficulties.
Play therapists have extensive training in child development, attachment and how to communicate with children through the language of play.
Will the play therapist tell me or others about my child's sessions?
Play therapy is confidential. This means that all details about children, parents and families is kept confidential unless, with parent's permission, they need to be shared with other professionals in the best interests of the child.
If the play therapist has concerns that there is a safeguarding issue, they are required to share those concerns with the appropriate authorities. However, these concerns will usually be shared with parents first.
Play therapy sessions are also confidential and the play therapist makes a contract with the child to keep the details of their sessions confidential at the start of their therapy; it is another element of the therapeutic relationship that helps the child to trust their therapist and feel safe to express themselves, just as an adult would with a counsellor or therapist.
However, the play therapist will work closely with parents in regular reviews to discuss progress and general themes in the play.
Information for professionals
Play is important for healthy child development and play therapy is an effective intervention which allows children to express themselves and work through difficult feelings and experiences through the developentally appropriate modality of play.
Play therapy is defined by the British Association of Play Therapists (BAPT) as:
‘…the dynamic process between child and Play Therapist in which the child explores at his or her own pace and with his or her own agenda those issues, past and current, conscious and unconscious, that are affecting the child’s life in the present. The child’s inner resources are enabled by the therapeutic alliance to bring about growth and change. Play Therapy is child-centred, in which play is the primary medium and speech is the secondary medium.’
When should I refer a child for play therapy?
Children are referred for play therapy for help with a range of psychological difficulties, including:
learning difficulties and ADHD
or if a child has had difficult life experiences such as:
Play therapists at Every Cloud are members of The British Association of Play Therapists (BAPT) and are professionally trained in child development, attachment and communicating with children through play. They use this communication to help children make sense of difficult feelings or life experiences, develop greater self-awareness and build resilience and emotional literacy.
If you would like more information or to discuss a referral, please contact us.