What is play therapy?
“Play Therapy is based upon the fact that play is the child’s natural medium of self-expression. It is an opportunity which is given to the child to ‘play out’ his feelings and problems just as, in certain types of adult therapy, an individual can ‘talk out’ his difficulties.” – Virginia Axline
There are a number of approaches to play therapy. One of the most effective is called non-directive. This is based upon principles developed by Virginia Axline. Non-directive play therapy is specifically designed with children in mind. This treatment respects children’s natural ability to guide their own process in a safe environment. Children are not required to talk through their experiences, but rather they use play and creativity to explore what is happening for them. Play is the natural language of the child and through play we can help with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.
Who is it for?
Any child can benefit from Play Therapy. It can help a child to make sense of the world. Play Therapy promotes happiness, self-confidence, imagination, creativity, concentration, communication, problem-solving skills and self-esteem. Play Therapy can help with the following:
· Anger management
· Behaviour difficulties
· Bereavement and loss
· Bullying/being bullied
· Emotional difficulties
· Illness for the child or in the home
· Lack of confidence
· Low self-esteem
· Relationship difficulties
· Sadness or depression
· Social difficulties
At the Sunflower Clinic, Play Therapy is available for children aged 4-11.
How does it work?
Play Therapy is a safe, confidential and child-centred therapy which allows the child to play with as few limits as possible. The therapist establishes a warm and accepting relationship with the child which provides a foundation for the therapy. The child leads the activity within each session and the therapist holds the space and keeps everybody physically and emotionally safe. In Play Therapy children encounter the world at conscious and unconscious levels, working through their difficulties at their own pace.
We use a therapeutic toolkit which includes:
· Sand Tray
· Creative visualization
· Therapeutic story telling
· Dance & Movement
What to expect:
Play Therapy sessions are usually 40-45 minutes in length each week. A minimum of 12 sessions are recommended for most individuals. Play Therapy sessions are one to one, with just the child and therapist present. Confidentiality is essential for the therapeutic process to work. A parent review will take place at session 10. The number of sessions required may vary and some children may require more than 12 sessions. All decisions are in consultation with therapist, parents/guardians and the child.
The first step is a consultation between the parents/guardians and the therapist. Both parents must consent to the therapy and are both required at the consultation/review meetings. The consultation takes approximately 1 hour and can help the Play Therapist to get some understanding of the child’s challenges, strengths and interests. This is an opportunity for parents to ask questions, get to know the therapist and see the playroom and toolkit.
All consultations with parents/guardians and children take place in a non-judgemental way and the Play Therapist works with understanding and compassion.
Our Play Therapist is Carol Hickey BA ECS PGDip. Carol has worked with children and families for over 15 years within the Early Years sector and Therapeutically. Carol is also an Early Years Lecturer/teacher as well as an Infant Massage and Baby Yoga Instructor. Carol completed her BA in Early Childhood Studies from UCC in 2008 and is a Certified Play Therapist, graduating from NUI Galway in 2017.