A safe, confidential and caring environment is created along with a variety of play and creative arts materials to allow children to play out their thoughts, feelings and experiences through free play, without having to give verbal explanations. There are as few limits as possible but as many as necessary to keep the child safe.
As a child plays, I am able to understand their underlying emotions and through the metaphor of play, reflect them back to them in a safe manner. Thus enabling the child to become more emotionally aware and allowing them the opportunity to create and find their own resolutions.
Sessions are usually on a one to one basis and are Child-Centred which means the child leads the session and the therapist follows, joining the play if the child invites them in.
Individual sessions are weekly and run at an agreed time. This must be consistent so on the same day and at the same time as this enables children to develop a trusting relationship. Sessions run for 40 minutes and are largely non-directive. Children are seen for a minimum of 12 sessions. For those who present with a moderate to high level of need 24 sessions are offered as the minimum requirement. Goodman’s Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaires are a method of measuring the need.
Group sessions can be offered to a maximum of four children. Again, this must be consistent and will run on the same day, at the same time. The children must presen with the same issue such as poor peer relationships, low self- esteem or have experienced a similar situation such as bereavement. Sessions run for approximately one hour for 6 weeks and can be more directive.
PCAP (parent child attachment play) sessions.
· Parent-Child Attachment Play (PCAP) is a 10 step attachment programme for parents and their children from 3 to 15 years old.
· Promotes a playful attachment between parent and child which will improve the child’s behaviour and family life.
· PCAP involves sharing 3 skills:
1. Play – creation of shoebox/bag of toys designed around the preferences of the child.
Heart to Heart
Heart to Heart is a programme designed to enhance and strengthen the relationship with your child, using games and informal activities.
It is a way of learning how play is the most important part of all to aid children's social, emotional and brain development.
2. Containment – managing time, environment, emotions and helping children to make helpful choices.
3. Head, Heart and Hands
Head – thinking about the child and what they are thinking about. Focusing on them.
Heart – putting themselves in the child’s shoes and imagining how they feel.
Hands – doing and saying things that lets the child know that the parent is trying to understand them.
Theraplay Informed Practice
The activities used can be helpful, in addition to Play Therapy by:
Engaging hard-to-reach children quicker
Placing emphasis on cooperation between children and adults
Encouraging children to learn and practice self-control
Help children with regulatory disorders and tactile issues