Sometimes it’s difficult to put our feelings into words, even as adults. This is the same for children, only sometimes they do not have the vocabulary to talk about what is going on for them. This is where play comes in. For children, play is one of the most powerful ways of communicating and working things out. Play therapy enables the child or young person to explore their difficulties and understand them, often allowing them to alter their perspective, so that they are less likely to blame themselves for any of the difficulties they are facing.
Play Therapy is appropriate for children and young people but is most often used with children between 3 and 13 years.
It is recommended for children who have experienced:
Play Therapists are graduates with experience of working with children e.g. teaching, social work or psychology. To be registered as a Play Therapist they must have met the following criteria:
Play Therapists draw on an extensive repertoire of neuroscience, attachment and child led, non-directive techniques to more focused interventions to enable the child to reach the targets and goals set for the intervention.
Play Therapy uses a variety of methods to encourage a child to explore their inner world and feelings.
Puppets, masks and drama enhances social relationships and self-care, enabling the safe release of fears, aggression and frustrations.
The creative arts and clay promote self-expression and provide methods to safely explore stressful or traumatic experiences.
Music, dance and movement enhances communication, improves social skills, and reduces stress.
Sand tray play gives expression to non-verbalised emotional issues and provides a positive sensory experience.
Creative Visualisation helps to create new, positive beliefs, attitudes and behaviours.
Storytelling encourages creativity and allows the story within to find its voice.
Children don't come to see me because they have a diagnosis of ADHD or Autism, but they do come if they are experiencing difficulties that are interrupting their everyday functioning and sense of wellbeing.
Play therapy involves children engaging in play activities of their choice. The play therapy environment gives neurodivergent children opportunities to express themselves in ways that are most comfortable to them. Unlike many behavioural interventions, the play therapist’s job is participating in a relationship with the child through play.
Instead of the therapist leading therapy, children are in charge of the pace, direction, and content of their therapeutic journey.
In play therapy, the therapist enters the world of the child and uses the relationship as an intervention, rather than training children to engage in specific behaviours that may conflict with their natural ways of being.
The theory behind play therapy makes it suitable in addressing some of the core difficulties exhibited by neurodivergent children, such as difficulties with social interactions, emotional regulation and communication. Play therapy allows children to practice communication and social skills in a relaxed environment.
With play therapy, children have the opportunity to develop trust with the therapist and feel comfortable. Once a child feels safe, he or she may be motivated to engage socially with the play therapist, eventually generalising his or her skills to home and school environments.
Play therapy does not teach children to play but allows children to explore their own mode of playing at their own pace . Great importance and value is placed on a child's special interests.
In the playroom the child can can make decisions about the lighting and heating levels. They can choose from a range of chairs to sit on. A wide selection of sensory tools are available to fiddle with too.
Play therapy also helps to expand a child’s understanding of their emotional world and their identity.
Play and the Creative Arts Therapy is an approach that really suits tweens and younger teens. This age group responds well to more structured symbolic play and the creative and expressive arts.
Once a child feels heard, seen and understood they are better able to make sense of what is bothering them.
I sometimes work more directively with older children and utilise a number of holistic strategies to empower them to better understand their inner and outer worlds.
To develop greater self-awareness leading to increased self esteem.
To assist in the development of new skills for communicating.
To extend their emotional vocabulary.
To create and practice new skills for dealing with the typical challenges facing this age group.
I am sorry but my caseload is full and I am not accepting new referrals. If you are looking for a Play Therapist please check the PTUK register for details of play therapists in Hertfordshire Thank you.