The way that I work is very straightforward. First I will talk to you as a parent, carer or teacher about what the difficulties are for the particular child in question. We will then look at the contributing factors, the possible reasons why these behaviours are present and then think together about what we can do to help resolve these difficulties. There are a number of different ways to proceed from there depending on what is needed and what feels like the right approach for the situation.
Play Therapy is usually undertaken for a minimum of six weekly sessions of 50 minutes. I would then usually meet with parents, carers or teachers to assess progress being made, to give advice and insight from the sessions and to discuss whether further sessions are needed. It is important to keep in mind that some situations call for longer pieces of work depending on the level of difficulty the child is going through. This will always be discussed with parents beforehand as to the needs of the child or family.
With over 10 years experience of providing support to children I have worked in a variety of settings including a children's hospice, primary schools, addiction support services (children affected by parental addiction) and a bereavement support service in a hospital setting. I started out working in the area of special needs in primary schools with children on the autistic spectrum. Here I developed strategies to help ease anxieties and fears for these children surrounding everyday life in a mainstream school environment.
MA Play Therapy
I then went on to complete a Masters Degree in Play Therapy in the Department of Psychology at Roehampton University in London. There I studied child development, attachment (child-parent dynamics) and developmental psychology as well as infant observation and assessment and child-centred Play Therapy techniques. This type of intervention has been in development since the 1960's. Since then it has been recognised by family services throughout the world as a very successful form of therapy for children experiencing social, emotional and psychological difficulties.
I am a full member of the Irish Play Therapy Association which is the governing body that ensures the highest standard of training in this area and a strict code of ethical practice.
In 2013 I completed training in Filial Therapy - which offers a slightly different approach to Play Therapy. Filial Therapy is instead done with the main caregiver(s) and is a way of helping parents and their children to reestablish positive bonds and clear communication. It also helps to facilitate safe and healthy expression within the child-parent relationship. This form of therapy requires a commitment of about 20 sessions including home observations and feedback. It has proven to be particularly successful in cases where there has been continued stress or difficulty in the child-parent relationship.