Play Therapy

What is play therapy?

“Children are our first teachers. They already know how to grow, how to develop… All they need is the space to do it.”

Oaklander (1978)

Play therapy uses play, which is children’s natural medium to communicate. Children can use play to help understand their muddled feelings and worries. Play therapy provides a safe therapeutic space where children can express and explore their feelings at their own pace with a trained therapist.

How can play therapy help?

Play Therapy can help children in a variety of ways. Children who receive emotional support can learn to understand more about their own feelings and thoughts.

The outcomes of play therapy may be a general change such as improved self-esteem, or it might be more specific such as a change in behavior and improved relations with their family and peers.

Play therapy enables children to:

  • communicate
  • gain better control of their behavior
  • make choices for themselves
  • reduce anxieties
  • develop more fulfilling relationships
  • improve their self esteem

What happens in a play therapy session?

Creative Rumpus provides a large selection of play materials, the child can choose what they play with and how they play. There is art and craft materials, dressing up props, sand and water, clay, small figures and animals, musical instruments, puppets, masks and story books. The play therapist sets the boundaries for safety and works alongside the child to help sort out their feelings and worries.

Each session is 45 minutes, the number of sessions within the play therapy programme is planned following discussions with the parent/carer.


What else will happen?

The play therapist arranges a meeting with the child’s carer and carefully listen to any concerns about the child and the reason for their referral. They may ask to seek information from the school and other significant adults in their lives.

An assessment is made of the child’s strengths as well as their difficulties, this is usually done using the Goodman’s Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire This questionnaire may be offered to the carer, teacher and the child. The therapist discusses with the carer any areas of concern and offers ideas to support the child at home and/or at school.

Regular meetings are planned to discuss the child’s progress and any changes observed at home or school. However the play therapist will not disclose specific details of what the child has done in the sessions. This is important in order to maintain the child’s trust and feelings of safety with the therapist.

Information would only be shared with other professionals if there is concern that the child is being harmed, hurting others or themselves. This will be done following Creative Rumpus’s Child Protection Policy.

Creative Rumpus can offer to work with parents in the play room with their child. This Filial Play technique is used to coach and train parents/carers how to relate better to their child using child-centered techniques.


How long does play therapy take?

All children are different, it is difficult to predict how many sessions may be needed. Some children will respond to a short term intervention (this could be 12-14 sessions). However, if there are multiple problems which have persisted for a long period of time a longer-term intervention may be required.


How can parents/carers support their child while they are engaged with play therapy?

All supporting adults can assist the child’s progress by:

  • Being consistent and encouraging the child to attend their sessions regularly.
  • Avoiding asking the child what they did, respecting their confidential space.
  • Please don’t ask the child to ‘be good’ or check they have been. This may hinder their progress, children need to feel free to express ‘bad’ feelings in an uncensored way.
  • Sometimes during therapeutic intervention behavior may appear to get worse before it gets better- please contact Creative Rumpus if you have any concerns.