Here at Northway Community Primary School, we value each and every one of our children. As a school we place a great emphasis on children’s well-being and mental health in order for them to flourish and reach their true potential. As a school, we are pleased and proud to offer Play Therapy for the children in our school who need specialist emotional support.
What is Play Therapy?
Play Therapy helps children understand muddled feelings and upsetting events that they haven’t had the chance to sort out properly. Rather than having to explain what is troubling them, as adult therapy usually expects, children use play to communicate at their own level and at their own pace, without feeling interrogated or threatened.
How can Play Therapy help children?
Play is vital to every child’s social, emotional, cognitive, physical, creative and language development. It helps make learning concrete for all children and young people including those for whom verbal communication may be difficult.
Play Therapy helps children in a variety of ways. Children receive emotional support and can learn to understand more about their own feelings and thoughts. Sometimes they may re-enact or play out traumatic or difficult life experiences in order to make sense of their past and cope better with their future. Children may also learn to manage relationships and conflicts in more appropriate ways.
The outcomes of Play Therapy may be general e.g., a reduction in anxiety and raised self-esteem, or more specific such as a change in behaviour and improved relations with family and friends.
What happens during Play Therapy sessions?
Every Wednesday, a playroom is setup with a large selection of play materials from which children may choose. These include art and craft materials, dressing up props, sand and water, playdough, small figures and animals, musical instruments, puppets and books. The Play Therapist will enable your child to use these resources to express him or herself without having to provide verbal explanations.
How long does Play Therapy take?
Some children will respond to a short-term intervention (for example up to twelve sessions). However, when problems have persisted for a long time or are complicated a longer-term intervention may be required. In these circumstances some Play Therapists have worked with children for two years or more. Sessions are usually once a week and consistency on a regular day and at the same time and place is very important for developing a trusting relationship. Unplanned missed sessions may disrupt the progress.
What does a Play Therapist do?
Play Therapists receive extensive training in subjects such as child development and attachment (the bonding process). They are also trained to use play, a child's natural form of expression, as a means for understanding and communicating with children about feelings, thoughts and behaviour.
A Play Therapist will begin by carefully listening to your concerns about your child and family. They will review their history and find out about the stresses the family have been through so that they can help your child make sense of it.
They may ask to seek information from school and other significant adults in their lives. An assessment is made of your child's strengths as well as their difficulties.
Your child's Play Therapist will talk with you about what to tell your child about their Play Therapy and how to anticipate and answer your child's questions.
They may work as part of a team of other professionals or independently and may suggest a referral for other professional intervention as part of the support. This might include support for you.
Our Play Therapist is a full member of the British Association of Play Therapists (BAPT) and adheres to the Ethical Basis for Good Practice in Play Therapy. He is supervised by a designated clinical supervisor, has specialist insurance to practice and an Enhanced DBS check.
Images of the Play Room