My name is Maeve Macknelly, I run Play Therapy Helston. I work at various schools in Cornwall providing individual Play Therapy and Group Therapy sessions with children aged 3 years – 12 years old.
My aim: to allow children the opportunity to ‘play out’ their feelings and express themselves in a safe environment where they can make sense of their emotions.
What is Play Therapy?
Play Therapy helps children understand muddled feelings and upsetting events that they haven’t had the chance to sort out properly.
Rather than having to explain what is troubling them, as adult therapy usually expects, children use play to communicate at their own level and at their own pace, without feeling interrogated or threatened.
Play is vital to every child's social, emotional, cognitive, physical, creative and language development.
Play Therapy helps children in a variety of ways. Children receive emotional support and can learn to understand more about their own feelings and thoughts. Sometimes they may re-enact or play out traumatic or difficult life experiences in order to make sense of their past and cope better with their future.
What resources are used?
The Play Therapy kit includes:
- musical instruments
- puppets, dressing-up
- art and craft materials
- drawing, painting
- clay and sculpting/modelling materials
- role play
- drama, movement and dance
- mask-making, sandplay, miniature figures
- therapeutic stories, story-telling and creative visualisations
Why does Play Therapy Work?
Play therapy works because it allows children the opportunity to express themselves freely in a safe environment, where they feel accepted.
It enables the child to:
- become empowered
- increase resilience
- facilitate emotional literacy
- discover healthier ways of communicating
- develop fulfilling relationships.
During Play therapy sessions, children develop a trusting, therapeutic relationship with their therapist. This relationship enables them to express themselves, explore and make sense of their difficult and painful experiences.
Where and how is Play Therapy carried out?
Play therapy is carried out in a safe room, in the school. All play therapy resources are provided. Sessions are 40 mins, at the same time and day each week. Some children will respond to a short-term intervention which is 12 sessions of individual play therapy. However, when problems have persisted for a long time or are complicated a longer-term intervention may be required.
Sessions are non-judgemental, child centred and predominantly child led. A play therapist has training in; art therapy, sand therapy, drama therapy, music therapy and role play.
“Play is their language and the toys are their words”.