“Hello! I’m Louise and I’m a Play Therapist.”
Recently when I introduced myself like this, a child in a training room visibly shuddered. That is a very rare response and absolutely not what we want. But it’s also true that children will have different responses to the word therapy, especially those with any experience of the care system.
I’m also a parent, not a foster or adoptive parent yet, but I’ve been a single parent and one navigating the diagnosis and support systems for my child. I’ve got over 17 years of experience with children as a teacher, a family support worker, and a therapist amongst other roles.
All of this means I know that parenting isn’t for the faint-hearted and how important it is to get the right people around you. Just one area needing support can impact your whole life.
Therapy choices for your child
In this blog, I’m going to share a (very brief!) guide to different therapies you may be offered for your child.
But first things first. If your child needs to see a therapist, that doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. Fact.
Second. You do have a choice of therapies and therapists, even if your agency only has one working with them.
It’s important you know what is available and that sometimes children need a particular mode of therapy or therapist. Relationships take time to build, and that’s even more important in therapy.
Mollymamaadopt wrote a beautiful article recently for We Made a Wish about Theraplay, which is a form of therapy I offer. I won’t expand as that was such a helpful article but basically, children and their adults are there in the same room for the therapy.
Molly’s article highlighted that the Adoption Support Fund recognises Theraplay, as well as Play Therapy and Child-Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT), so I thought I’d give a professional insight into those for you.
I’m based in Wales where, as you might know, there is no Adoption Support Fund. But that doesn’t mean social services can’t fund this support. It may also be that your foster or adoption agency has a Practitioner who can deliver CPRT as well. If not, I’m running online courses for people all across the UK, and beyond.
Play Therapy and CPRT
In a nutshell, Play Therapy is a medium to long-term intervention that provides a 1:1 space for a child to process their emotions through play. This is really important for children who may have experienced pre-verbal trauma, as many in the care system sadly have.
You will have regular reviews with the therapist, but parents are rarely in the play therapy sessions. That confidentiality can be hard, especially when this child is new to you. I’ve worked with children for as little as three months to two years and a lot of the recommended number of sessions depends on the child’s and family’s complexity of need.
Some schools may have access to their own Play Therapists, and others contract them like with my company Voyage of Hope Therapy Services.
Child-Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT) is a 10-week group program. Up to six families can attend and you choose one child you’ll run special play sessions with. This child won’t come to the sessions (though video recordings might) and you don’t start the play sessions until you are ready and have quizzed us multiple times!
Child-centred play therapy
This play follows the principles of child-centred play therapy which allows children space to express what they need, alongside you. Sometimes this expression of need is through play and previous CPRT participants have shared how helpful it has been to have a play therapist give a new perspective each week.
The whole idea of this is building on the relationship that you already have and it’s an evidence-based approach for foster and adoptive parents. It also gives you the chance to spend time with other parents and carers that are looking to support their children through learning play therapy skills.
What does being evidence-based mean? It means that multiple foster and adoptive parents have had amazing results: seeing their children move from not wanting to spend time with them to creating enjoyable memories is just one example.
If you’d like some further information, have a look at my blog covering the three things you need to know about CPRT.
Have you been offered CPRT?
Do you think your child would prefer getting to work with you than with a relative stranger?
Get in touch to see how I can help.