Play Therapy

What is Child Centered Play Therapy?

We provide a specialised form of counselling that is evidence based and developmentally appropriate for infants and children, called child centered play therapy. It is non directive, gentle, child lead and play based for infants and children aged 2 – 10 years old with emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Play therapy is a very effective therapy for children under 10.

Children often have difficulty putting into words how they feel and how their experiences have affected them. For children, play is the natural form of communication used in everyday life and learning. Through play, children can explore and ‘act out’ events in their life such as having a new baby in the house or separation anxieties.

Working with a trained play therapist and mental health professional, your child’s play is assessed and understood. Difficult emotions and experiences expressed through play are supported to help your child find solutions to their struggles and develop healthy coping strategies.

Benefits of Play Therapy

Play therapy allows children to change the way they think about, feel toward, and resolve their concerns (Kaugars & Russ, 2001). Even the most troubling problems can be confronted in play therapy and lasting resolutions can be discovered, rehearsed and mastered. The child will then generally transfer these newly developed coping strategies and ways of being  to their every day environment and relationships.

Research supports the effectiveness of play therapy with children experiencing a wide variety of social, emotional, behavioural, and learning problems, including: children whose problems are related to life stressors, such as divorce, death, relocation, adoption, hospitalisation, chronic illness, assimilate stressful experiences, physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and natural disasters

Play Therapy helps children with emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Play therapy can promote resilience and coping skills that are appropriate to the child’s age and developmental stage as well as help them:

  • develop responsibility for behaviours
  • develop problem solving skills
  • learn to communicate with others
  • develop respect and acceptance of self and others
  • stimulate creative thinking and exploration
  • express emotion in healthy ways
  • relieve stress
  • enhance social skills
  • develop confidence about personal abilities

– Kaugars, A., Russ, S. (2001). Emotions in children’s play and creative problem-solving. Creativity Research Journal, 13(2), 211-219.
– Russ, S. W. (2004). In child development and psychotherapy. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.
– Bratton, S. C., Ray, D., Rhine, T., & Jones, C. (2005). The efficacy of play therapy with children: A meta-analytic review of treatment outcomes. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 36(4), 376-390
– Leblanc, M. & Ritchie, M. (2001) A meta-analysis of play therapy outcomes. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 14(2), 149-163
– Ray, D. C., Armstrong, S. A., Balkin, R. S., & Jayne, K. M. (2015). Child-centered play therapy in the schools: Review and meta-analysis. Psychology in the Schools, 52(2), 107-123.
– Lin, Y., & Bratton, S. C. (2015). A meta-analytic review of child-centered play therapy approaches. Journal of Counseling and Development, 93(1), 45-58
– Reddy, L. A., Files-Hall, T. M., & Schaefer, C. E. (2005). Empirically based play interventions for children. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Additional evidence-based research is available on the Australian Play Therapists Association (APTA) website.

What happens during a play therapy session?

For play therapy to succeed, a safe and consistent environment is created so a trusting and positive relationship can develop between the play therapist and child. During the session, the child selects the toys they’d like to play with, and the play therapist may join in the play only on the child’s invitation. Limits are set as and when needed to support the play therapy process. This is done in an empathic and respectful way that helps the child make choices and develop self-responsibility. Over a number of sessions, the play therapist observes and guides the child to build their resilience, inner-confidence and coping strategies.

Play therapy helps build a child’s resilience, inner-confidence and coping strategies.

The positive relationship that develops between therapist and child during play therapy sessions can provide a corrective emotional experience necessary for healing (Moustakas, 1997). Play therapy may also be used to promote cognitive development and provide insight about and resolution of inner conflicts or dysfunctional thinking in the child (O’Connor & Schaefer, 1983; Reddy, Files-Hall, & Schaefer, 2005). The child learns ways of dealing with these conflicts more effectively within the playroom and generally transfers these new coping strategies to their everyday environment and relationships.

Learn more about Session Details and Fees

– Moustakas, C. (1997). Relationship play therapy. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, Inc.
– O’Connor K. J., Schaefer C. E. (1983). Handbook of play therapy. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
– Reddy, L. A., Files-Hall, T. M., & Schaefer, C. E. (2005). Empirically based play interventions for children. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Can Play Therapy help my child?

Play therapy is a very effective therapy for young children with emotional and behavioural challenges. Children can be referred for play therapy as a result of the following difficulties (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Adjusting to family changes
  • Making friends
  • Excessive worries and sadness
  • Anger, aggression and acting out behaviours
  • Bullying
  • ADHD and ADD
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Physical or emotional abuse
  • Separation anxiety
  • Sleeping and eating difficulties
  • Low self esteem and self confidence
  • Trauma
  • Grief and loss
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Chronic illness/hospitalisation/surgery
  • Physical symptoms without any medical cause
  • Bonding and attachment
  • Foster, adoption and identity issues
  • Prenatal and birth trauma
  • Selective mutism
  • Near death experiences

Helen’s Approach

Helen is passionate about supporting young children, and reducing the number having mental health issues in adulthood. Working as a mental health professional and play therapist, Helen has seen how powerfully effective play therapy is for children. Play as therapy for children,  is a very natural approach which helps them to work through challenges they face, without needing the words to describe their emotions. Learn more about Helen

Contact Helen today to have any questions or concerns answered.