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Play Therapy

Play Therapy provided by Jogo Behaviour Support
Play Therapy is defined as a dynamic interpersonal relationship between the child (or person of any age) and a therapist trained in Play Therapy procedures who provides selected play materials and facilitates the development of a safe relationship for the child (or person of any age) to fully express and explore self (feelings, thoughts, experiences and behaviours) through play, the child's natural medium of communication, for optimal growth and development
Landreth, G. L. (2012)
Play Therapy: The Art of the Relationship (3rd Edition) : New York, Routledge

What is Play Therapy?

Play Therapy - Boy with cows

Play Therapy is a trusted method pioneered by Virginia Axline in the mid-1940s and developed into an established and effective approach for children and young people. Many of us often find it difficult to discuss our emotions and difficult experiences. However, it is even more challenging for children and young people.

In Play Therapy, we recognise that children may not always have the words to express their emotions or experiences. Instead, they utilise play as their innate language to explore, heal and grow. Through play, children discover their strengths, address concerns and cultivate essential coping skills, fostering emotional well-being and resilience.

Play Therapy - boy with dinosaurs

Our dedicated team of Play Therapists create a safe, nurturing and supportive environment, fostering positive change through the child's play and the therapeutic relationship. Children are empowered to take the lead, allowing their inner world to unfold. This empowerment helps them better understand and express their emotions, ultimately promoting well-being.

Explore the transformative power of Play Therapy with us, building stronger futures together.

For further information, please contact us

Play Therapy - Painting

What can Play Therapy help with?

What Play Therapy can help with

How Play Therapy can help

Play Therapy can help children and young people (3 -16 years old) who:

  • seem unable to play
  • appear withdrawn and disconnected
  • lack confidence and belief in themselves and their abilities
  • are not reaching their academic potential
  • present as anxious, worried or phobic
  • have experienced traumatic event/s
  • have suffered loss or bereavement
  • have suffered physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • struggle to make and maintain friendships
  • have experience developmental interpersonal trauma
  • have attachment difficulties
  • have witnessed domestic violence
  • have lived with long term illness or disability
  • display inappropriate behaviours
  • have experienced bullying or use bullying behaviours
  • are confused about divorce and relationship separations

What happens in a Play Therapy session?

Play Therapy - What's in a play therapy session

In a Play Therapy session, the child is generally able to choose what they want to do.  The Play Therapist follows the child's lead and responds verbally by commentating on what the child is doing and reflecting their feelings.  Questions are used minimally.

The Play Therapist generally will not direct the child's play unless they feel that the child's play has become stuck or if the play has become toxic post traumatic play.

Play Therapy Sessions Play Therapy Support Sessions

There are few boundaries in Play Therapy sessions, but usually the child can say more or less what they want (even using words they are not normally able to use elsewhere.)

However they are not able to break the toys on purpose, physically hurt themselves or the Play Therapist purposely or damaged the play room intentionally. 

Play Therapy session

How does Play Therapy work?

How Play Therapy Works

Play Therapy uses toys and play as words to help children express themselves.  As the child is able to choose what they do in the Play Therapy session, they feel in control and safe enough to work on the issues that are impacting on them. 

They get to practice new skills in a playful way in the playroom, before using them in their ordinary life.  Children are also able to use the distance and safety of play to re-experience difficult experiences and explore, gain understanding and control over the emotions that difficult experiences evoke.

More Information & Links …

Play Therapy Doll House image

Engaging and working with Parents and Carers in Play Therapy

How Parents and Carers engage with Play Therapy
Parents and carers are vital to the healthy development of children and young people.  It is important for them to have an understanding of Play Therapy.
Play therapy booklet

The Play Therapist will work with the child's parents and carers to support the Play Therapy process.  They will initially meet with the parents and carers to gather their view of the child's needs and provide information about Play Therapy. 

During the Play Therapy sessions, regular meetings will be held to gather the views of the parents and carers, provide the themes arising from the child's play and if needed advice and guidance will be offered.

A Play Therapy information booklet will be provided by the Jogo Behaviour Support Play Therapist.

Play Therapy in Schools

Play Therapy In Schools
As with parents and carers, schools play a vital role in the healthy development of children and young people.  Therefore like parents and carers, it is necessary for schools to have an understanding of Play Therapy as they will be supporting the child or young person between the Play Therapy sessions.
Play Therapy In Schools Leaflet

The Play Therapist will work with the school to enable the class staff to be able to support the child during their Play Therapy. As with the parents and carers, the Play Therapist will meet with the school staff to ascertain the needs of the child or young person and provide information about Play Therapy.

A Play Therapy in Schools information leaflet will be provided by the Jogo Behaviour Support Play Therapist.

What is a Play Therapist?

What is a Play Therapist?

A Play Therapist is a practitioner who has completed either a BAPT (British Association of Play Therapists) course or a PTUK (Play Therapy UK) course.

Currently to be registered as a Play Therapist, they need to have completed a Masters Degree in Play Therapy and often have a background in teaching, social work or nursing.

What is a Play Therapist?

A Play Therapist will have a clear understanding of:

  • Play Therapy
  • child development
  • the developmental process of play
  • the impact of trauma
  • attachment theory
  • therapeutic responding
  • the value and necessity of play for healthy development

A major competence of a Play Therapist is to be able communicate effectively with children, young people using play. 

The Play Therapist is bound by a code of ethical practice and is required to receive regular supervision and continued professional development. 

A Play Therapist will have:

  • a current enhanced DBS or CRB
  • public liability indemnity insurance

If you are interested in training as a Play Therapist, please go to:

Frequently Asked Questions about Play Therapy

Here are just a few questions that are frequently asked.

How long does a Play Therapy session last?

Generally a Play Therapy session lasts for 50 minutes. However sometimes depending on the needs of the child, the sessions may be shorter.

How many times a week?

Normally Play Therapy occurs once a week, at the same time and on the same day.  Though for some children it may be beneficial to undertake an intensive intervention for period of time, therefore they may have Play Therapy two or three times a week.

How long will they need to go to Play Therapy?

This is dependent on the presenting needs of the child, an initial comprehensive assessment and ongoing reviews with parents/carers and other agencies involved with the child.

The Play Therapist will liaise with all parties including the child regarding the continued need for Play Therapy.

Below are estimated guidelines for potential duration of work with a child or young person. Depending on the individual child, their experiences and the environment that they are now in the duration of the work may vary. Below is a rough guide to potential time frames based on historical experience.

6 -12 Sessions

A child or young person that has had no previous trauma and has highly supportive primary care givers and has a secure base. The child or young person has experienced a one off incident which is likely to be of low perceived threat to life, but distressing or 'stuck' enough that the child may benefit from therapy. The child functions well in most environments.

18 - 24 Sessions

A child or young person that has experienced trauma that is significant in nature, but not enduring throughout the majority of their childhood so far. The child functions in a number of environments but has moderate difficulties. Appears to need further support to process their past experiences. The child is in a secure and safe environment and has primary care givers that are engaged and supportive.

36 Sessions to long term intervention

A child or young person who has experienced a history of trauma, insecure attachment and/or significant loss. The child is now in an environment that at least is consistent and safe enough for the therapeutic work to take place, although there may be issues that require parent/carer support alongside the therapy. The child or young person displays a high level of distress or withdrawal and difficulty functioning in a number of environments. Engagement of primary care giver is likely to impact on the number of sessions alongside the child or young person's previous experiences

Who can make a referral?

Referrals can be made by parents/carers, school staff, Social Workers, doctors, health visitors and other agencies.

Please complete a Referral Form

Their behaviour seems to have deteriorated now they are doing Play Therapy

Sometimes when children and young people start exploring their issues in Play Therapy, their behaviour may appear to get worse for a period of time.  This is quite normal and is often short lived.  It is generally a sign that they are engaging in the process of Play Therapy and working through the things that are impacting on them.  If you have any concerns, please speak to the Play Therapist.

British Association of Play Therapists (BAPT) Website

Make a referral for Play Therapy

Click here to visit the BAPT website (new tab/window).

Make a Referral

Make a referral for Play Therapy
Please complete a referral form and we'll get back to you.

Play Therapy Support Videos

The videos below are available on YouTube. Click a video to watch and use the Full Screen icon to expand.
Interview with Tammi Van Hollander about Virtual Play Therapy Sessions
Pretend Virtual Play Therapy Session
Using the Virtual Sandtray app in a Pretend Virtual Play Therapy Session
Introducing Andrew
Therapeutic Powers of Play - 20 Core Agents of Change

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Delve into our range of services that encompass workshops, consultations, training sessions and ongoing support. From behaviour management to creating inclusive spaces, our offerings are designed to cater to all aspects of nurturing growth in educational settings.