Play Therapy Melbourne Outreach in Schools and Other Locations
What Is Play Therapy?
Play Therapy is an effective way of helping children:
- recover from and make sense of difficult and painful life experiences
- express and explore difficult feelings
- achieve a more positive view of themselves and their own value increasing self esteem
- improve their family and social relationships, behaviour and readiness to learn
- develop emotionally and socially due to increased awareness and confidence
- improve communication skills and emotional literacy
Therapies which require or encourage children to talk may be inappropriate for those who struggle to put their feelings into words, whereas most children are fluent in the language of play and naturally gravitate towards using metaphor.
Play is the child’s way of expressing and exploring their internal and external worlds. The Play Therapist provides a safe environment and develops a bond that leads to a dynamic, trusting relationship where children can express themselves freely, at their own pace. Emotions which may otherwise seem overwhelming or uncontrollable can be contained in the metaphors of play, enabling the child to experience a healthy sense of control, and inviting them to discover a different perspective.
Play Therapy is a cost effective, evidence based, child-centred form of counselling. Working with children within education settings or organisations provides an excellent opportunity to provide therapeutic support that may not otherwise be accessible.
Who can benefit from Play Therapy?
Play Therapy is appropriate for children, young people, and adults but is most often used in primary schools with children between 3 and 11 years. However, we often work with young adolescents and late teens with a slightly different approach to help them feel more comfortable, and thus are able to support children in a secondary school setting as well as those in primary and preschool settings.
Play Therapy is recommended for children who have experienced:
- Bed wetting and sleep disturbances
- Separation anxiety and school refusal
- Emotional or behavioural difficulties
- Loss through bereavement, family breakdown or relocation
- Foster, kinship, or adoption
- Illness, hospitalisation, and disability
- Being a witness to violence or substance abuse
- Cutting and self-harm
- Abuse or neglect
- Trauma due to single incident or prolonged trauma
- Bullying and bullying others.
Play Therapists work with individual children, but we can also work with groups in some circumstances. We like to work closely with parents and carers and can provide support with Filial (Child/Parent Relationship Therapy) where appropriate. Play Therapy is accessible to children of varying abilities and who come from different genders and cultures. It is a particularly suitable intervention for children with learning, physical and sensory impairments. It may also be appropriate for those for whom English is not their first language.
What is a Play Therapist?
Play Therapy Melbourne’s registered Play Therapists are graduates with experience of working with children e.g. teaching, social work, psychology and counselling. To be registered as a therapist at Play Therapy Melbourne they must have met the following criteria:
Have completed a Post Graduate qualification in a fully accredited Play Therapy Course recognised by the APTA or equivalent governing body; on-going clinical supervision of their Play Therapy practice; and have demonstrated commitment to APS Ethical basis for good practice.
Play Therapists draw on an extensive repertoire of neuroscience, attachment (bonding) theory, psychotherapy methods and theories from child-led, non-directive techniques, to more focused interventions that enable the child to reach the targets and goals set for the intervention.
The Play Therapy Process
Play Therapy usually follows a standard procedure including:
- Discussion and liaison with referrer/school staff
- Consultation with parent(s)/carer(s)
- Consent from adults with parental authority
- Assessment meeting with the child
- Play Therapy at weekly intervals
- Regular review sessions with child, parent(s) / carer(s), referrer /school staff -separately or jointly as appropriate
- Planned endings or indication of short, medium, or long-term intervention.
- Discussion and liaison with referrer/ school staff
Play therapy is most effective when significant adults in the child’s life i.e. parents/carers and referrer/school staff are committed to supporting the child throughout the duration of the Play Therapy process. There will be regular meetings at which information and progress can be reviewed. Ending Play Therapy is a crucial part of the process and takes several sessions – premature or sudden endings are detrimental to the child.
Confidentiality: The content of Play Therapy sessions is confidential to enable the child to feel safe, allow exploration and build trust in the therapist. The child can share with anyone they choose about what they play, say or feel in sessions but the Play Therapist will not share details. There is however, an obligation to share information to safeguard children from harm. It is made clear to children that what they say in therapy, stays in therapy, with the exception being if someone is hurting them, or they want to hurt someone, or they want to hurt themselves.
Consistency: Play Therapy takes place in set sessions at the same time and in the same space each week. Interruptions during the sessions are detrimental to the child’s sense of safety and should be avoided. If a child behaves disruptively at home or school, it may be tempting to withdraw their sessions as a sanction. However, access to Play Therapy needs to be unconditional so the child can depend on their ’space’ being available each week to work through the difficult feelings underlying the difficult behaviour.
Commitment: When the play therapist, parents/carers and other involved adults e.g. Welfare Officer/ school staff, work in partnership with trust and mutual support for the child, the best results can be achieved. The Play therapist will build a relationship with all the systems around the child and be able to attend outside meetings and provide reports as requested.
Consent: Written consent from the parent/carer (person holding legal parental responsibility) and verbal consent from the child must be received before Play Therapy can begin. If there are court proceedings in place, the Play Therapist will seek permission from the presiding judge/magistrate.
DHHS/Child Protection: Play Therapists adhere to School/Local Authority Safeguarding procedures and the APS code of Ethics.
How long will Play Therapy take?
It is not possible to say in advance how many weeks a child will need in Play Therapy as the complexity of their needs will vary. As a rule of thumb, the more complex the case or embedded the difficulty, the longer the intervention. Typically a minimum of 12 -20 weeks is required. Meetings are held at approximately six-weekly intervals to review the child’s needs and progress with the parents and school. Outcome measures are used to provide an evidence-based intervention.
Is Play Therapy always appropriate?
Sometimes there are factors in a child’s life which mean it is not the right time for Play Therapy or a child may need a different type of intervention to meet his or her needs. During our assessment we should be able to identify if this is likely to be the case. There may be other options in this case that can be explored, such as a more directive model of intervention.
Play Therapy Fees vary. However usually for outreach in schools the fee will be $120 – $150 a session. Some of our therapists are able to take Mental Health Care Plans which will offer a rebate of $96 – $106. If you would like to talk further around funding options that may be available please contact us. We are also able to facilitate Group Sessions. For exact details around the ways we are able to support Children in your School or Organisation please refer to our Program Guide which provides an Overview of Services we are able to offer.
Play Therapy Melbourne is an approved provider of the NDIS. If you have students that have this funding they are eligible to use this to fully fund their Play Therapy within your School or Organisation.
What progress can be expected?
In Play Therapy children deal with difficult and painful issues. Their pace is not to be rushed and specific results cannot be predicted in a time frame. Play therapy can help release a child from shame which supports progression towards health. Most children find Play Therapy a helpful way of releasing and making sense of upsetting feelings and experiences; this has a beneficial and positive effect on behaviour, relationships and development.
If you are interested in exploring the possibility of Play Therapy in your school or organisation please fill out our online enquiry below:
Play Therapy Melbourne Services
Learn to Play
The Learn to Play model helps children develop their ability to initiate spontaneous pretend play. In developing this skill, the child’s social skills, language and emotional integration are thought to be improved, and their increased ability in play is thought to translate to their everyday life. As such, it is usually offered to children who are developmentally delayed, or who struggle with self-initiated spontaneous play.
Animal Assisted Play Therapy
Animal Assisted Play Therapy is an intervention in which the animal (Hazel the dog) is used to enhance and compliment the benefits of Child Centered Play Therapy. Play Therapy Melbourne therapist Elisha, and Hazel her dog, are a highly trained and certified team who can provide a calming and supportive environment for therapeutic change to occur. In addition to the benefits of Child Centered Play Therapy, Hazel provides those she visits with numerous psychological and physiological benefits. Both adults and children who interact with Hazel for the purpose of therapy may experience improvements in :
Decreased stress levels Decreased hostility toward the self and others Improved social interactions Improved compliance for therapy engagement Decreased blood pressure Rise in release of beta-endorphins and oxytocin Improvement in self-esteem, patience, and trust Sense of empowerment and mastery Interestingly, parents and teachers who have visited with Hazel have reported that she has brought them calm in times of distress.
Child Centered Play Therapy
Play Therapy is a gentle evidence based approach which Children love and allows children to experience significant change and growth. Play Therapy can offer support around many issues including: Anxiety, Behavioural and Emotional Issues, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Trauma, School and Social Difficulties.
Play therapy is a way of being with a child that honours their unique developmental level and helps them work through difficulties in their ‘language’ – play. In the same way that adults use words to discuss their concerns through counselling, children use play to work though their thoughts and feelings. Licensed mental health professionals therapeutically use children’s natural inclination to play to help children, most often aged two to 12 years, to better express themselves and resolve their problems.
Child Centered Play Therapies technique is strongly grounded by the principle that, given the right therapeutic environment, children will guide themselves towards self-healing. In this way, children choose what they do in each session and naturally start to play through their issues. As children play, the therapist will work very hard to create an environment of complete acceptance while helping the child reflect on their inner world. Through this process children begin to reach new understandings of their experience and make new decisions about who they are and how they want to behave.
Autism Spectrum Disorders – NDIS Funding
Play Therapy Melbourne is an NDIS approved Provider and is recognised by many other funding bodies. If you have Children with a diagnosis of ASD with NDIS Funding we are an approved Provider and can provide Therapy in your School or Organisational setting.