Child therapy information for schools
Every school has children that might be struggling to cope, are disruptive in the classroom, or withdrawn and have difficulty forming friendships.
Staff can see that certain children are struggling to reach their potential.
Staff are often called upon to not only teach but provide emotional support to the children in their care.
While there is good training available now in schools to enable staff to recognise signs of distress and trauma and provide tools to help respond to these children's needs, sometimes there are not enough hours in the day or enough adults available for the specialist care they need and deserve.
Having a play therapist in school can provide support to staff and alleviate some of the stress that comes from teaching a whole class and trying to meet the needs of each individual child. Play therapy gives a child the one-to-one support that can be a catalyst for change and the effect not only helps the child but trickles down to the teacher, support staff and the other pupils.
If you decide play therapy would benefit any children in your school, please be aware that the following need to be provided:
- a room that is private and where sessions will not be interrupted.
- the room should be available on the same days/times consistently throughout the year
- the room should have enough space for a range of toys to be laid out safely
Information for teaching staff
Play therapy is a psycho-therapeutic treatment approach specifically developed to help children between the ages of three to 12 years old.
A trained mental health professional, called a play therapist, works with a child to explore, and resolve problems through the therapeutic use of play. Child and therapist work together in a play room, which is equipped with specially chosen toys that will encourage the safe expression of feelings and support the development of healthier behaviours.
Play therapy is an effective way to:
- Facilitate healing from past stressful or traumatic experiences
- Allow the expression of feelings
- Encourage creative thoughts and new ideas
- Allow the development of healthy decision-making skills
- Enable the communication of problems and concerns to others
- Support the learning of new ways of thinking and behaving
If a pupil in your school receives play therapy, please ensure all staff that work with the child read the following information (paper copy available on request). If any more information is required, we are always happy to answer any questions you might have.
- All sessions are confidential so while the child may choose to tell you what they have been doing, please do not ask them
- Please give the child a little time to adjust to being back in the class room once they have finished a session
- Rather than calling out that it is time for play therapy, please be discreet and maybe just say ‘It’s time for your session’ instead
- Please don’t tell the child to “have fun” when they leave the class for a session or ask them if they had fun on their return. They may work through some very difficult emotions while in sessions which may not be fun. Play is a child’s way of communicating these emotions
- It is important session days and times are consistent. Please email me in advance if the child has a school trip/ rehearsal or other unavoidable events
- Please let me know if there any changes in the child’s circumstances which might affect their well-being
- Finally, sometimes behaviour can get worse before it starts to improve, typically after approximately 5-7 sessions
It is a good idea to imagine yourself having confidential counselling sessions and understand that play therapy is the equivilent to counselling for children. How would you feel if someone asked you if you had had fun after your counselling session or what would the effect on you be if someone came into the room just as you were talking about something personal or a traumatic event that happened to you? What might you need directly after a counselling session? Possibly not being asked to complete some maths sheets! Just giving children 5 minutes to re-orientate can make all the difference.