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Creative Arts & Play Therapy

Art equipment


What approach will the therapist be using?
I will be using an Integrative Holistic model of Play Therapy, my work is based upon the theory and practice of humanistic psychology, of Virginia Axline ("Dibs In Search of Self"), Carl Rogers, and the Gestalt play therapy approach of Violet Oaklander. It can be both non-directive and directive in approach, forming a trusting relationship by providing a confidential, safe, caring environment. The non-directive approach is used firstly to develop the best therapeutic conditions focusing on freedom to play.  Once a trusting relationship is formed move directive techniques can be used to advance healing, following our natural inner trend towards health, stimulating new neural pathways, promoting new ways of being and enhanced emotional literacy and wellbeing.

What is the factual evidence that play therapy works?
PTUK's clinical evidence base, containing over 12,000 cases, shows that between 77% and 84% of children show a positive change through the use of play and creative arts therapies when delivered to PTUK standards. The more severe the problem, the higher the percentage of children that show a positive change.

What are the benefits of play therapy?

  • It gives emotional support to children.
  • Space to explore and learn about their feelings.
  • Encourages creativity.
  • The holding safe space of the therapeutic relationship allows children to experience new ways of being; they can experiment with new ways of communicating and learn to better manage relationships and build healthier new ones.
  • Sometimes they may play out difficult life experiences which can help them make sense of their past and aid them with finding new ways of coping.
  • Play therapy can increase resilience and allow them to learn to respond to emotional triggers in a more appropriate way.
  • Play therapy facilitates emotional intelligence - starting with understanding themselves, then managing themselves (self-regulation of emotions).
  • Learning acceptance of self and how they feel about themselves in relation to others.
  • Developing better social skills, so that they are more able to communicate their problems and concerns.
  • With new experiences, self-esteem and self-concept strengthens, helping them become less judgemental on themselves and others, to be more empathic.
  • Increases resilience / robustness to everyday situations, therefore allowing them space to find better ways to communicate.
  • Encourages new ways of positive thinking and behaving. Learning problems solving skills.

Cost of services.
Price on application for the following:
A single 1 to 1 session / 50 mins.
Half day / 2 - 3 sessions.
Full day / 5 or more clients, a discount may apply.

Group session rates / 50 mins / for up to 3 children only.
Parent / carer consultation fee.

I use assessments and formulation measures, Goodman’s “strength and difficulties” to ensure appropriate interventions are delivered.

Where possible please provide 24hrs notice of cancellation.

How long will it take?
In order to determine a guide on how long therapy will take, I carry out initial assessments prior to therapy. This will include gathering referral information, using strengths and difficulties outcome measures and parent / carer consultation.

Episodes of play therapy on average are around 16-18 sessions, but may be more or less, depending on if any new difficulties arise. Each session is 50 minutes. With a review at around 7 weeks.

Parents: What to expect from the service.
You might be struggling to determine what is the cause of your child’s behaviours. Some life experiences can be just too difficult to deal with, children can find it very hard to articulate or even understand how they are feeling, let alone put it into words, to tell you what is causing their distress.

During our assessment together we can discuss your child’s problems, circumstances, and any concerns you may have (usually without the child being present). If you need to meet me with your child this can be arranged. We will also discuss your hoped for outcomes.

Please note that the following documents need to be completed:

  • Parent interview form
  • A consent form
  • Plus a strengths and difficulties questionnaire made up of 25 simple questions, covering 5 areas:
  • Pro-social, Hyperactivity, Emotion, Conduct and Peer relations.

The questionnaire will be used at the end of therapy to monitor your child’s progress. With your permission, I will also ask your child’s teacher to complete them, so we have both perspectives.

I can provide you with additional resources and advice to help you with your child, during and beyond therapy. You are welcome to contact me if you have a query or updates in circumstances that you think may affect your child’s progress.

Why can’t parents, careers and teachers know about exact session content?
In accordance with PTUK ethical guidelines confidentiality is a crucial part of building a trusting therapeutic relationship, except if a safeguarding concern arises, where the child or someone else may be thought to be at risk. While this privacy is maintained, a general feel for progress can still be explored during reviews. It is also most helpful to not quiz the child as to what they did in play therapy, but to let them if they want to lead the conversation.

Does play therapy help brain development?
During the last quarter of a century neuroscience has become a major area of discovery. The human brain is a highly complex organ whose function is controlled by several billions of brain cells or neurones, with trillions of synapse connections transmitting and receiving messages to the body and brain.

Babies brains have billions of young brain cells too, but lack the synaptic interconnectivity that is typical of later life. In the first five years of childhood a major period of brain growth occurs which significantly contributing to inter connectivity between neurones, this plays a major part in learning, memory, emotional and social development.

In simplistic terms the brain has unconscious nonverbal areas where memories and sensations (including traumatic memories) are stored. Trauma events can create neural pathways of repetitive coping behaviours that can be construed as a cry for help. A child's ability to communicate and process upsetting issues resides in the frontal lobes of the brain. 

Play therapy symbolic and role-playing activities are instrumental in creating new neural pathways, helping move traumatic memories and feeling from the nonverbal area to the frontal lobes.


"Neuroscience research shows that more brain centres light up in response to metaphor than any other form of human communication forming new neural pathways".

(Levin, F 1997 and Modell, A.H 1997).

"Symbolic / fantasy play with its use of metaphors provides new experiences that develops the brain/mind".

(Levin, F 1997 and Modell, A. H 1997.)

As fragmented memories and sensations are integrated / linked up through thought processes in the frontal lobes; children can then make sense of them and move on to explore other possible responses.

The brain is affectively rewired. Old neural pathways and repeating negative outcomes decrease or stop and new ways off being develop.

The therapeutic tool kit