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                                                                           Lisa Swan MBACP - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

                                                                                           Child Integrative Therapist

                                                                                Filial Coach and DDP Level 2 Practitioner

What is Play Therapy?

Play therapy is a relatively new approach to helping children in the UK. Based on developmental and child-centred principles, the therapeutic approach is a way for your child to communicate using metaphors and stories, to ‘play’ out their internalised conflict.  The therapeutic process involves your child choosing objects from within the play room to communicate, at their own level and in their own time, any concerns or traumas they may be experiencing. 


How can Play Therapy help my child?

In play therapy the child therapist is trained to read the metaphors of the play and observe emerging patterns.  Play offers your child the opportunity to make sense of their world and helps them rehearse for adult life.  The main goals of play therapy are to help the child regain their former level of functioning, enhance self-esteem and build the child’s coping resources.

How does Play Therapy work?

Each child will hopefully have the time to process and grow through each critical phase within play therapy. They are:

·            Engagement Phase: This is the time for your child to explore the environment and tests for limits. 
·            Working through Phase: The child and therapist establish a relationship of trust and the child begins to play out underlying issues. A decrease in the child’s functioning may accompany this phase.
·            Therapeutic Growth Phase: At this stage the child is empowered and re-worked their earlier concerns.
·            Termination Phase: This important phase entails the therapist and child summarising their time together and preparing to end the relationship. 

How successful is Play Therapy in helping children?

Research by PTUK (Play Therapy United Kingdom) and PTI (Play Therapy International) shows the effectiveness of play therapy (  Since 2004, the organisation has been collecting and analysing pre and post therapy data using the Goodman Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). This has become, by far, the largest single quantitative play therapy research project in the world and is still ongoing.

In 2002 Kent County Council and PTUK trialled play therapy in primary schools. 126 pupils were provided with an average of 4 to 5 group therapeutic play sessions. Over 96% of the children demonstrated an improvement in group work, listening, communication and concentration.


More recently in 2011 PTUK published An Effective Way of Promoting Children’s Wellbeing and Alleviating Emotional, Behavioural and Mental Health Problems. Within the paper the research showed that between 74% and 83% of children receiving play therapy, delivered to PTUK/PTI standards, showed a positive and significant change in behaviour Concluding the more severe the problems the greater the percentage of positive change at 83%.  


What will happen in my child’s Play Therapy sessions?

Your child will be provided with a large selection of play materials to choose from. These will include art and craft materials, dressing up props, sand and water, clay and play-doh, small figures and animals, musical instruments, puppets, books and small world play.  The play therapist will enable your child to use these resources to express him or herself without having to provide verbal explanations.  

What are the referral requirements?

The following are common referral issues but are not exclusive:

·       Anxiety
·       Abuse – emotional, physical or sexual
·       Attachment issues
·      Behavioural Difficulties
·       Bereavement
·       Depression
·       Family illness support
·       Phobias
·       School Issues
·       Separation / Divorce /Post-Separation
·       Sexual identity
·       Suicidal feelings
·       Transitional Problems
·       Trauma (Physical, emotional, sexual, situational)


If you feel your child is struggling to cope in life then please go to the contact page or see Frequently Asked Questions for further details. 



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