Play and art in Therapy

Play in Therapy

Children are our finest teachers. They already know how to grow, ... how to learn, how to expand ..., how to feel, laugh and cry and get mad, what is right for them and what is not ..., what they need. They already know how to love and ... to live life to its fullest, to work and to be strong and full of energy. All they need is the space to do it.
— Violet Oaklander

Play in therapy allows children to communicate their inner worlds without feeling interrogated or intruded on.

Play is a child's natural way of understanding themselves and  the world. In play children work out different ways of managing themselves and their relationships to others. They learn decision making and problem-solving, they sort through mixed up thoughts and emotions, and they communicate.

Sometimes a child gets stuck because of unmanageable emotions or experiences. A little facilitated play is helpful to get them moving forward again. Children (and adults) have a natural capacity to develop in a healthy way and play therapy aims to re-stimulate this capacity.

In working with your child I would meet with you every 4 - 6 weeks in order to reflect on how your child is doing, and to discuss ways of helping at home. In sessions I prefer to let children direct their own play, and only occasionally ask them to do a specific activity. In this way they instinctually choose to play in a way that will help them. 


Art in Therapy

We become what we imagine as the person obsessed with troubling thoughts knows. It is the artistic imagination, and not the willful mind, that effortlessly transforms the torturing demon into an inspirational daimon.
— Shaun McNiff in Art as Medicine

First things first – you do NOT need to be an artist to do art in therapy. You don't even need to be good at drawing! The art that is produced in counselling does not need to be beautiful; its value lies in its spontaneity, rawness and in its expression of you.

I find that making images is a powerful way of bypassing all the things that we think we should be feeling so that we can connect with how we are feeling. Images speak honestly about what is going on for us, and help us to access buried feelings. This is especially helpful when repeated exposure to trauma has emotionally deadened us.

Another important aspect of using art is that it's fun! It accesses our creativity, opens up possibilities and makes us feel alive.