Mrs Denise Thorne BA Hons, PGCTP, PGDPT (Distinction)
Why are children referred for one to one Play and Creative Arts Therapy?
One to one Play and Creative Arts Therapy is used for a wide spectrum of needs such as: self-esteem, bereavement, adoption, family break downs, experiences of domestic violence, abuse, bullying, diagnosis of illness or condition etc. Play and Creative Arts Therapy is a client or child led therapy that allows children to explore their present or past difficulties, within a safe therapeutic space and relationship. This form of therapy utilises play and creativity as this is the natural language that facilitates children’s development that places no pressure upon them. In addition, sometimes children’s experiences cannot be proportioned to words or it might be less frightening to explore them through non-verbal means. Furthermore, neurological research shows that play and creativity tap into the appropriate part of the brain that often stores and sometimes blocks non-verbal too big experiences. Play and Creative Arts Therapy focuses on allowing a child to move on from past and present difficulties in order to meet their individual potential. The process involves regular communication with carers/parents/guardians, school and other agencies.
Why are children referred for group Play and Creative Arts Therapy?
Group Play and Creative Arts therapy is used for children who have a much lesser degree of need or difficulty than one to one. Group Play and Creative Arts Therapy is often referred for children who may lack resilience, self-efficacy, or have identity issues that can occur during transition to young adulthood. The group consists of no more than five children, with at least two of these children acting as role models. The role models play an integral part of the group dynamics. However, role models gain as much as they give to the group, as do all the children. Groups allow children who might not have met the criteria for one to one therapy to access a safe and therapeutic space to explore their identity, role and experience shared joy and creativity within healthy friendships.
How are children referred to either group of one to one play and creative arts therapy?
Greenholm’s referral process is undertaken by a group of senior school leaders who communicate with teaching staff to assess a child’s needs. Play and Creative Arts Therapy sits within Greenholm’s graduated approach to social and emotional support. Nurture groups sit on the bottom tier of the graduated approach, of which I have been closely involved in staff training and support. Group Play and Creative Arts Groups then sit on the next tier of needs, with one to one play therapy being at the top end of needs. Once a child is identified a senior leader then contacts parent(s)/carer(s)/guardian(s), before the Play and Creative Arts Therapist then introduces herself and a conversation takes place to gain consent and informs parents about this approach.