Understanding the Sessions
Can a therapist tell me what happens in a session?
The therapist is able to meet with parents and school staff at the start, to learn about the child, then during the middle and at the end of the sessions to listen to and to give feedback to parents about a child’s progress, but not their ‘process’. This means that we are able to tell you in general terms the themes that might be occurring and how the child will be developing in therapy, but they will not specifically be able to tell you what has gone on in the sessions. Understandably this can potentially feel frustrating for school staff and parents, but it is an essential part of the therapeutic process. In order to work out and process their problems freely, children need to be able to trust the therapist and believe than they will provide a safe and secure space to do this.
Confidentiality ensures this trust remains constant and so the therapist will only break confidentiality if they believe the child is at risk of being harmed, (and will make the child aware of the need to inform another adult) or if the child discloses that they are being hurt. If a child discloses, or there is a child protection procedure, the session will be stopped immediately and a member of safeguarding sought.
If this happens with a private client then parent will be informed and outside agencies will be contacted.
Should play therapy be halted if the child misbehaves?
Play therapy is unconditional and should not be regarded as a ‘punishment’ or ‘reward’ A disruptive or badly behaved child can use the time to process and work through their feelings and better understand their behaviour. The key aspect is that the Play Therapist is not judgemental, they do not tell the child they are right or wrong, this gives the child the permission to be what they want to be and to knowledge that they are unconditionally accepted (within the agreed boundaries).
Is it ok to disrupt a session?
The short answer is no! Children need a consistent and safe place to feel secure enough to express themselves freely. Even a single interruption can stop the therapeutic process and the child may not go back to the stage they reached and there can be a breakdown in the therapy process.
The same room/room layout and same day and time should be used each week, the therapist collecting and returning the child to that they can adapt back into their day.
Can I ask the child about the sessions?
Although you may be curious, it is best not to ask a child about their therapy sessions, or say things such as “have fun!” when they are going to Play Therapy. The reasons are because children in the sessions are often exploring difficult events which are unlikely to be fun for them. However, there is fun and laughter to be had but the content of each session depends on what the child wants to bring into the room on the day.
It is up to each child if they want to discuss or answer questions from parents or staff, please remember that their process is private and they may feel obliged to reply when they do not actually want to. All information is strictly confidential unless a disclosure or a child protection concern is raised.
At the end of the Play Therapy a report will be given to the school or parent along with any further recommendations for support.