Would Play Therapy Work For Me?

Some examples of the kind of reasons that a child or young person and their parents or carers might ask for Play Therapy or Filial Play Therapy (please note that I have changed the names of the children to preserve their confidentiality).

Gary, an eleven year old boy was struggling with the transition to secondary school

He had become violent and refused to do anything he was asked to do. During the sessions of Play Therapy, Gary explored and worked through his sadness that his mum and dad had split up and he no longer saw his dad, but was afraid to talk to his mum about it because she seemed depressed and unhappy. Following twelve sessions of Play Therapy, I then provided some Filial Play Therapy for the mum and son. This helped the mum to understand her son and for them to rekindle their relationship. At the end of Filial Play Therapy, the school reported that Gary had settled down in the school and had made good friendships.

Billy, a seven year old boy was referred for Play Therapy by Education Welfare

He was disruptive in his class and was struggling with his school work. He had recently moved to live with his father and step mother, after two years of preivously having no contact with his father. During Play Therapy, Billy took his time to work through some confusing emotions and understandings about “right and wrong” and who to trust. He was developmentally delayed at the beginning of the intervention, but his difficulties were seen as emotional by the school. At the end Play Therapy, Billy’s school said he was making friends, sitting for longer periods in the classroom and had gone up two levels in his reading and writing. His understanding of his school work had improved to the extent that the school were confident the he would catch up with the other children his age.

Amy, a ten year old girl was struggling emotionally

Amy was often seen gazing out of the window and crying a lot and refusing to play with the other children, often preferring to be on her own. She was referred to Play Therapy by her school, with her mum’s consent. Amy was worried about her mum who had a degenerative illness and as a result had frequent visits to the hospital. Amy used Play Therapy to express feelings that she had buried, such as anger, hopelessness and loneliness. Through the process of Play Therapy Amy explored different feelings and stories until she understood about her mother’s illness and her feelings in relation to this. Her mum also helped Amy with this and they were able to plan positive times together to build happy memories for the future.

Johnny, an eight year old boy was refusing to do anything at home

Johnny’s mum had recently remarried and had a new baby. Johnny was violent and aggressive to his step-dad. Mum and Johnny had a short eight week period of Filial Play Therapy, and were able to work through the negative feelings that had come up since his Mum had remarried. School was unaware that anything had been troubling Johhny. The referral for the work had come through Johnny’s GP.

Penny, a fourteen year old girl was referred for Play Therapy by her mum

This was due to concern that Penny had seemed to change from a happy secure girl to a deeply troubled and sad girl. Her mum had remarried three years previously and Penny did not like her life and did not feel wanted. Through Play Therapy Penny worked through feelings of not being “good enough” at school and also in the home.

Steven, a twelve year old boy was referred to Play Therapy by his mum because of his angry outbursts

Steven used the sessions to work through his fears in relation to a traumatic incident when he had been two years old when his dad had nearled killed him.

Leanne, a four year old girl referred to Play Therapy by her mum

Leanne was frightened to walk on the pavement following an incident when she had been knocked down by a motorbike whilst out in the park with her mum and younger brother. Leanne’s mum was also present in the sessions if Leanne needed her. The Play Therapy lasted for four sessions. Following this, Leanne was able to walk on the pavement and no longer cried or physically froze when she heard an engine.


©Debra May 2010