What is Play and Creative Arts Therapy

“Toys are children’s words and play is their language” – Garry Landreth

sarah foster play therapy

Play is instinctual and natural to children and is used to communicate, learn and develop an understanding of the world.

Play Therapy uses play, a child’s natural language to enable children to express themselves, explore their thoughts and feelings and make sense of their life experiences.

Play Therapy uses creative arts as well as other forms of play which access unconscious as well as conscious processes.

Children do not always have the emotional language skills or the ability to understand how this has affected their inner world, in Play Therapy a play therapist is trained to reflect the underlying intentions and emotions back to the child who gains better awareness of their inner world.

Play therapy’s child-centred approach enables better resilience and wellbeing so that children have the confidence to navigate life’s ups and downs and to have a more positive view of their place in the world.

A Play Therapist’s ‘tool kit’ combines a range of carefully selected toys and creative materials in order for children to express themselves in any way they choose.

Using a range of natural and manmade mediums, a child is given the opportunity to use symbol and metaphor to ‘play out’ feelings and make sense of experiences they may be facing.

Within the play therapy session, a shy puppet can be transformed into a bully or a baddie, a child can choose to be a victim or the victor, metaphors are commonly used and super heroes can fight evil, (creating empowerment) while a miniature world in the sand tray can represent their own world.

Symbolic play enables children a shift in perspective of abuse or difficulty so that they are less likely to internalise blame.

Types of play such as repetitive play can represent internal battles or being stuck in a way of thinking or behaving, while a doll, a soft toy, and art or messy play can transport children back to a missed developmental stage

A PTUK certified Play therapist using Virginia Axline’s Eight Principles follows the child’s lead, works at the child’s pace, respects the child’s ability to solve their own issues, does not judge, and uses reflection in order for the child to gain insights.

The therapist will combine child-led/person-centred (Carl Rogers’) and non-directive techniques in order for children to explore and process issues to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Who is it for?

Play Therapy is suitable for children aged between 4 and 12 years. It can be held on a 1:1 basis or can be used with groups of up to 4 children who share similar issues.

There are many reasons a child may be referred for individual 1:1 Play Therapy sessions including: anxiety, stress, low self-esteem, loss of confidence, withdrawn, difficulties in regulation, aggression/anger, family breakdown, continued unhappiness, school refusal.

Staff in schools have a unique perspective on individuals and groups of children in their care and can identify difficulties and changes early on.

creative play cornwall

If you know a child who:

  • Has nightmares or disturbed sleep?
  • Is at risk or is excluded from school?
  • Struggles with mental health issues?
  • Has suffered trauma?
  • Has suffered emotional, physical or sexual abuse or neglect?
  • Is adopted or fostered?
  • Has separated/divorced parents and are not coping?
  • Suffers with stress, phobias or anxiety?
  • Has suffered loss or bereavement or any kind
  • Has had experience of domestic abuse, substance or alcohol abuse within the home.
  • Is withdrawn or continually unhappy?
  • Is not coping with change (change of environment/place, language/ school etc)?
  • Is ill, disabled, in hospital, or has a long term health issue?
  • Finds it difficult to make friends?
  • Quarrels frequently with peers or siblings?
  • Bullies others or is bullied themselves?
  • Displays inappropriate behaviour?
  • Who displays low confidence?
  • Who has depression?
  • Doesn’t play or has delayed play development?
  • Has emotional or behavioural problems?
  • Has communication problems or delayed language skills?
  • Has Asperger’s or Autism?
  • Has attachment issues?

Please contact Sarah at Creative-Me for more information.