How does child centred play therapy work?
Child centred play therapy is based on Carl Rogers’ theory of person centred counselling. This has been adapted to use play instead of, or as well as, talking.
Rogers’ theory is based around the belief that people have the ability to find their own solutions, given the right environment to do so.
Rogers’ believed that through a relationship with a therapist who is non-judgemental and accepting, people can change the way they view themselves and this will lead to changes in how they interact with others.

What is the difference between direct work and child centred play therapy?
In direct work a wide range of techniques and tools are used to aid the child to explore and express their thoughts and feelings. The play therapist directs the play towards the presenting issues and difficulties.
Child centred play therapy does not use any specific tools and the play is not directed. The play therapist reflects on the child’s play and the child’s feelings.

How does playing help?
Play is an essential part of human development. Children’s play is their natural medium of communication. In infancy children play with their own and their carer’s bodies and they use their bodies to explore the world. Their play is a sensory experience. This changes to playing with objects and using the objects to symbolise their experiences. Later children are able to adopt roles in which to explore themes.
Children are often unable to verbalise their thoughts and feelings, but can express these through their play.

How is success measured?
Children, carers and other people involved with the child having play therapy, define the areas of difficulty and goals are set. These can then be reviewed at regular intervals.

Are there children for whom play therapy is not suitable?
Children under the age of three years, those who are currently undergoing a lot of changes, those who are not safe from the threat of harm and those who do not have a supporting adult, may not be helped by play therapy.

What difficulties can play therapy address?
Helping children make sense of previous life experiences.
Helping children who have a developmental delay, speech and language, behavioural or perceptual difficulties.
Helping children to resolve their feelings about previous abusive experiences.
Helping children to resolve attachment difficulties.
Helping children to prepare for medical treatment.
Bereavement and loss issues.
Helping to cope with chronic or life shortening illness.
Ascertaining the wishes and feelings of children.

How do I refer to the Play Therapy Service?
Contact is initially made by telephone. If after an initial discussion play therapy seems to be appropriate, a meeting is convened between the play therapist and referrer to discuss the referral in greater detail.
Detailed information will be needed by the play therapist prior to meeting the child and family. In the case of a child subject to on-going care proceedings, it may be necessary for leave to be sought to disclose court papers and for a letter of instruction to be issued.

The play therapist meets the child and family and an assessment is undertaken. This assessment involves two sessions, with the child and with the carers, separately. Following this assessment, if play therapy is appropriate and everyone is agreeable, practical arrangements are made and sessions begin.

Play therapy is regulated by the British Association of Play Therapists. (BAPT) This body accredits training and membership is dependent on a recognised play therapy qualification. All BAPT registered play therapists have undergone at least two years training and abide by the BAPT code of ethics.
Sally Miles is a qualified play therapist with over 20 years experience of working with children in a variety of settings, including working for various Local Authorities, Voluntary and Private organisations and the Courts.

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