Alison works from a holistic and child-centred theoretical perspective, providing a safe space and trusting environment through the therapeutic relationship, allowing a child to communicate at their own level and pace to express, explore and make sense of their difficult and painful thoughts, feelings and experiences and problems through play. Alison works closely with the child’s support network and offers advice and strategies to parents, carers, teaching staff and significant adults involved. 

Benefits of child-centred play therapy for children

Child-centred play therapy has many benefits for children, including:

  • Provides a safe space for emotional expression
  • Children learn how to express their thoughts and feelings in constructive ways and helps them to understand their feelings better, come to terms with the source of their distress and develop greater emotional resilience 
  • It fosters decision-making and acceptance of responsibility
  • It helps children to explore and practise social skills
  • It helps children to make friends and learn about their ever expanding world
  • It allows children to learn from mistakes safely
  • It promotes self-confidence, self-esteem and a sense of competence 
  • It fosters imagination and creativity 
  • It supports emotional healing and growth
  • Creates and enhances healthy bonding in relationships and develops a sense of trust in self and in others
  • Develops their identity 
  • More receptive to learning and therefore enables their educational needs to be better met.

What is Play Therapy?

At times in a child’s life they may experience problems or difficulties, and feelings or behaviours which can cause disruption to their lives, the lives of those around them and affect them reaching their full potential. 

Child-centred play therapy recognises that play is the child’s natural medium to learn, communicate and to explore their world. Conventional talking therapies may be inappropriate for children and young people who struggle to put their feelings, thoughts and perceptions of their internal and external world into words. Child-centred play therapy assists children in communicating and sharing with the Play Therapist aspects of themselves and their inner world; their thoughts, feelings and experiences, both conscious and unconscious that is hard to directly put into words. It is important to go at the child’s pace to develop their trust in order to form a secure relationship and environment, which enables the child to feel safe and comfortable to express any issues, whilst abiding by the Child Protection Policies of the organisation. With the support of the Play Therapist the child is helped to explore, make sense and understand their feelings better, come to terms with the sources of their distress and develop greater emotional resilience. This can significantly enhance pupils’ confidence, self-esteem, social skills, relationships and wellbeing.

Child-centred play therapy is non-judgemental, non-directive and holistic. Sometimes slightly more directive methods are more helpful to support their needs. Also the parent’s/carer’s may be brought into the intervention if appropriate and I will work to help them understand the child’s behaviour and feelings, give them strategies to support the child alongside my work and support to re-build the family’s relationships. 

Who is child-centred play therapy for?

I have to consider many factors before accepting a child for play therapy including whether it is thought to be the right time or if a child needs a different type of intervention and if so relevant referrals can be made by the Therapist.

How play therapy works 

Play therapy generally follows a standard procedure. This includes:

  1. Referral
  2. Referral and discussion and liaison
  3. Consultation with carers
  4. Assessment of the child
  5. Play therapy
  6. Regular review sessions with carers and other professional (if appropriate)
  7. Endings
  8. Discussion and liaison with professionals

Further information 

A child will be referred to me, with a referral form being completed. Once the referral is received and any further information sought, I will meet with the parents/carers to obtain the child’s and family’s history. Also at this referral meeting I will explain child-centred play therapy and we will discuss if it is an appropriate intervention for the child at this time. Child-centred play therapy cannot take place without those who hold parental responsibility for the child giving consent. If the decision is made to proceed, I will then have an initial meeting with the child either with or without the carer. The aim of the meeting is meet the child and explain to them what child-centred play therapy is, why they have been referred, introduce them to the toys and answer any questions they may have. I will also do a contract with a child that explains the limits and confidentiality. I have a few limits and boundaries which anchors the therapy to the world of reality, encourages self-control and the opportunity to make choices. The therapy is also confidential between me and the child to maintain their trust and a feeling of safety. Whilst it is the child’s decision what they chose to share with others, I will explain both to the parents/carers and the child that I will not provide specific information of what the child has said or done unless the child or someone else is thought to be at harm or risk of harm. The first block of 6 sessions will be an assessment period to explore the possible length of the intervention.

During the course of the intervention there will be review meetings with the appropriate professionals and parents/carers to provide a general overview of the child’s progress, including themes that have occurred. The child’s permission will be sought to share any specific information at the review. 

The sessions tend to be in blocks, with a review taking place after every 6 to 8 sessions. The number of sessions depends on the individual child. For some children they will respond to a short term intervention of roughly 12 weeks. Children whose problems have persisted for a long time or are complicated may need a longer-term intervention.  It is important that once a decision is made to finish the therapy that the child is given 3-4 sessions to prepare for the ending. 

Alison will carry out regular review meetings or telephone consultations with the child’s parents/carers and where appropriate other professionals throughout the Play Therapy process. When the Play Therapy intervention comes to an end Alison is able to provide a report if requested.

Where will the Play Therapy take place?

Alison currently runs a mobile play therapy service that mostly takes place in schools or other organisations. 

Alison Play Therapy covers the areas of Hertfordshire, North London including Radlett, Mill Hill, Edgware, Barnet, Bushey, Watford, Potters Bar, Elstree, Stevenage, St Albans and the surrounding areas.