barnardo's beacon logo

what is play therapy?

Image

Need to talk urgently?

Call Childline on 0800 1111

Play can be used to explore emotions and help us talk about our thoughts and feeling on lots of different topics. Play therapy is great for children who are in primary school and can also be really helpful for young people with additional needs. It is very creative and does not have to look the same for everyone.

What happens before play therapy?

A Play Therapist or Counsellor will speak to you and your parents or carers to invite you to a “Needs Assessment”, which is a conversation that is arranged at a time that suits you. This is so they can learn a bit more about you, your experiences and how you are feeling and coping and for you to ask any questions you may have about play therapy.

The Needs Assessment will help you decide whether you and your parents think you would like to have some play therapy. If you choose you want to, then your first appointment will be arranged for a day and time that works for you. If you do not choose to then that is ok as you can always get back in touch again in the future if you change your mind.

Play therapy is like counselling but uses lots of different activities and is sometimes run by different people – it might be that during the Needs Assessment it’s decided that counselling would works best for you. You can find out about counselling here.

What happens during play therapy?

At your first session, you will be given chance to think about some of thing you’d like to do and maybe set some goals, for example “I want to be able to talk to my mum when I feel sad”. You will also be told how many sessions you can have and how long they will be; usually they’re 50 minutes long.

Play therapy involves lots of different activities and resources and you can choose which ones you’d like to use. This can include things like making play dough together and using it to model what our feelings might look like or creating your own masks or puppets to show what we like and don’t like about ourselves.

When you are playing in your session, you can talk about how you’re feeling and any thoughts or worries you might have and the play therapist or counsellor might ask you some questions to help you with this. You can work together to think of some things you can do which might help you feel better.

If at any point in your session you would like to stop, then that is okay – you will never be in trouble. Just tell your play therapist or counsellor and you can finish your session.

At the end of play therapy

You will be reminder how many sessions you have left, and if you forget you can ask at any time so it doesn’t come as a surprise. Saying goodbye is not always easy and it is okay to talk about how you feel about your sessions coming to an end. Working together you can decide on the best way to say goodbye and remember all of the good things you have done and learnt.

If you have made things in your sessions that are special to you, then you can work with your play therapist or counsellor to decide what happens with these, you could take some photographs or keep some of art work in a special folder for example.

If you would like to talk to someone about play therapy, you can contact us here.

How can we help you?

Use the button below to visit our contact page.

Our website uses cookies which are small files of letters and numbers that we put on your computer. These cookies allow us to distinguish you from other users of our website, which helps us to provide you with a good experience when you browse our website and also helps us to improve our website. Read more about the cookies we use by clicking here. By clicking CONTINUE you agree to cookies being used in accordance with our Cookie Policy. If you don't agree you can disable cookies - see the Cookie Policy for more details.