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Play Therapy

Play Therapy

What is Play Therapy?


Play Therapy is a form of Psychotherapy, using play as a means of self-expression and communication. Children naturally communicate using play, as children often have not yet developed language to ascribe to their inner thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Play Therapy allows children to process their experiences safely and explore their feelings in a developmentally appropriate way. Using play, children can communicate to the therapist in a similar way that adults might utilise Talking Therapy.


The British Association of Play Therapists describe Play Therapy as:


“The dynamic process between the child and play therapist in which the child explores at his or her own pace and with his or her own agenda those issues, past and current, conscious and unconscious, that are affecting the child’s life in the present. The child’s inner resources are enabled by the therapeutic alliance to bring about growth and change. Play Therapy is child-centred, in which play is the primary medium and language (in the form of speech, sign or Alternative Augmentative Communication) is the secondary medium”

(BAPT, 2022)

Who might benefit from Play Therapy?


Play Therapists typically work with children aged 4 – 12 years but Play Therapy is accessible to everyone. Children who have had difficult experiences, are struggling with emotional regulation or need support in their confidence and self-esteem might benefit from Play Therapy.

Play Therapy is also offered within the Developmental Assessment and Relational Trauma Service (DARTS) team (learn more about the team on here), supporting children who have experienced developmental trauma. Developmental trauma refers to repeated trauma or loss within a child’s early relationships. For example, abuse, neglect, witnessing domestic violence or emotional harm. Trauma impacts the development of the brain and can cause difficulties with daily living. Trauma affects each person differently. Common experiences might include, difficulty with emotional regulation, hyper-arousal and difficulties feeling safe within relationships.

Therapy helps people process difficult experiences. Play Therapy allows children to do this in a non-threatening way, through metaphor and the safety of play. Sometimes children have had difficult experiences in early life which occurred before language was developed. Play Therapy allows children to process these experiences. Sometimes children have had developmental stages disrupted by trauma, Play Therapy allows children to revisit some of these important stages and rework their experiences. 


Play Therapy allows for:

  • A safe space for emotional expression

  • Learning new ways to express thoughts and feelings

  • Opportunities to develop skills in decision-making.

  • Facilitating the development of problem-solving

  • Opportunities to explore and practice social skills

  • Opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them in a safe environment

  • The development of self-esteem and self-confidence

  • Imagination and creativity

  • Opportunity to process difficult life experiences, supporting healing and growth.



  • Initial meeting with caregivers

  • Weekly sessions of Play Therapy

  • Review meeting with caregivers every six - eight weeks. Social workers and school staff to attend if appropriate.

  • Closure meeting

  • Report and Recommendations


A Play Therapy intervention typically starts with an initial meeting between the therapist and caregivers. During this meeting, caregivers can share their current circumstances and what brought them to Play Therapy. The Play Therapist might ask questions about the child and family to help to build up a picture of the child and to plan for the therapy going forward. The therapist will also talk to you about preparing your child to come to therapy and let you know what to expect from the intervention.

Following this meeting, a day and time will be agreed to meet for weekly sessions of Play Therapy. Children will have therapy in the playroom, where a variety of toys, arts and craft materials, and play media will be available for children to use. Children direct sessions and can choose to play with whatever they like. The therapist follows the child’s lead as it is important for the child to process their experiences at their own pace.

Every six - eight weeks the therapist will meet with the caregivers for a review meeting. This allows the therapist to share any feedback about how therapy is progressing and to see how things are going at home. Sometimes parents might need support with things that happen at home or at school and the therapist will work with you to find solutions to problems. Sometimes the therapist might suggest an activity or a strategy to try. Play Therapists work systemically and work alongside social workers or school staff if this is appropriate.

Towards the end of the intervention, the therapist will meet with the caregivers for a closure meeting. In this meeting, a report about the work completed will be shared any further recommendations will be discussed. The therapist will ensure the ending process is carefully planned with the child.

Socrates Play Therapy Services


Socrates has a fully equipped playroom with lots of play media for the children to use. The playroom is close to the waiting room as it is important an attachment figure waits for children whilst they are in therapy.

Rhiannon, our Play Therapist, is a qualified and registered Play Therapist. She is registered with the British Association of Play Therapists and is trained to Masters Level. A BAPT registered Play Therapist has undertaken extensive training, has had their own therapy and accesses regular clinical supervision and additional training. Rhiannon also has an undergraduate and postgraduate degree in Childhood Studies and has previous experience working in advocacy, education, and learning disability. Rhiannon works in a child-centred way, offering a safe, warm, and welcoming space for children to play.

Get in touch

Cote Royd House

7 Halifax Road



01484 514594

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