What is Therapeutic play?
Therapeutic play is a type of treatment used to help children with mild to moderate social, emotional, or behaviour problems. This therapy approach allows individuals to assist themselves overcome challenges by playing out their feelings and struggles in a secure, confidential, and non-judgmental environment.
All resources within the room are chosen specifically to help the individuals therapeutic process. Therapeutic play is a non-directive approach to therapy; therefore, the sessions are child led.
During sessions the practitioner 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 practitioner.
Sessions will be 40 minutes long. Sessions 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.
How can sessions help
Therapeutic play sessions can help children who have had difficulties in their lives, this can be at home or in school, withdrawn, struggling to make friends, confidence issues or low self-esteem. Separated parents, loss, anger, hyperactivity and much more.
Sessions allow the child to have a safe space where he can express himself through play and feelings.
The referral processes
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 discusses in a child friendly way and they will be shown around the room. The day and time of sessions taken place will also be discussed 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 by calling the main office and asking to be put through to Stephanie at the school.
Therapeutic play 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.
Who is the therapeutic play practitioner?
My name is Stephanie, and I am the new therapeutic play skills practitioner at the school. I have over 10 years’ experience in a variety of children’s settings including nurseries, schools, residential settings, leaving care and supervising families. I have an undergraduate BA Honours in children’s and young people’s learning and development. I recently received my postgraduate certificate in therapeutic play skills.
Currently I am working towards my diploma qualification to become a qualified play therapist. As part of my role, 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.