Play therapy at Green Gates Academy
At Green Gates Academy we are privileged to access play therapy support from a therapist from ABC counselling.
Our therapist comes into school one day a week to provide play therapy sessions for 5 children every week. The programme has been extremely beneficial to the children All children accessing the therapy have been fully engaged and great progress has been noted from staff and parents in relation to their coping mechanisms, engagement in learning and resilience and improvement within SDQ scores from initial baselines.
Who can benefit from counselling and play therapy?
At times in their lives, many children and young people require additional support in order to fulfill their potential and increase their resilience. Play therapy and counseling can support children and young people who are experiencing a range of issues or circumstances. These can include:
- Previous experience of domestic violence
- Self-harm and suicidal thoughts
- Delayed development
- Experience of parental separation/family breakdown
- Being taken into care (Looked After Children)
- Experience of loss and/or bereavement
- Abuse and/or neglect
- Being affected by substance misuse within the family
- Being affected by depression or other mental health issues within the family
- Experience of trauma
- Low self esteem
- Behavioral issues
- Difficulties in making and maintaining friendships
- Phobias and anxiety
- Attachment difficulties
Play Therapy Overview
Play therapy is a child’s natural medium for self-expression and is essential for healthy development. Play Therapy is a well-recognised psychological intervention that is used primarily with children between the ages of 3 and 11 years. Play therapy helps children with behavioural and emotional problems to help themselves through ‘playing out’ their thoughts and feelings.
Much of current play therapy practice is based on the work of Virginia Axline, who was influenced by the person centred approach of Carl Rogers. Theories of child development, attachment and neuroscience are also an integral part of play therapy training.
Children and young people often show their distress in their behaviour e.g. becoming angry or withdrawn. This may be because they either don’t feel ready to talk or do not have the words to talk about their experiences and express their feelings. By offering a variety of play and creative art materials in a safe and confidential therapeutic environment, the play therapist is able to help the child/young person to connect with the emotional experiences that they are struggling with. Through play therapy, the child is able to identify, work through and resolve emotional conflicts with a trusted adult.
The play therapy toolkit includes therapeutic storytelling, creative visualisation, puppets and masks, art materials including paint and clay, sand, music, drama and movement. Each play therapy session is child led, and therefore the child will decide what parts of the toolkit they wish to use.
Children often struggle to talk about their thoughts and feelings that are impacting upon their daily lives. At ABC, they offer a range of interventions including creative mediums and talking therapies to allow the young person to choose how to express their behaviours and feelings. Through exploration, the child can develop an understanding of themselves, their thoughts and feelings, thus enabling them to change and move forward with their future.
Children may also learn how to manage relationships and conflicts in more appropriate ways as well as being able to explore difficult life experiences in order to make sense of their past and cope better in daily life. When children and young people are less stressed and anxious, they are more able to focus and learn which improves their ability to fulfill their academic potential.
ABC, use well recognised clinical tools – Goodman’s Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and CORE YP – to assess individual need and to monitor progress. For primary aged children, a child’s parent and teacher complete the SDQ before therapy commences, at the review stage and at the end of therapy. The tool will be used with the child at intervals throughout therapy.
Children, parents and teachers to check whether play therapy has been effective also complete post intervention evaluation forms.