I qualified as a Play Specialist in 2008 and a Family Systemic Practitioner in 2015. I work for the NHS for 2 days per week as a mentor on a Day Surgery ward, and Dental ward, preparing children, young people and families for treatment. I also run a private practice through my established company, The Play Specialist Service.
Working with children, young people and families, my vision is to provide emotional and practical support for those in uncertain times and difficult circumstances. I use a range of play techniques and models to help clients with communication, behaviour, medical and sensory difficulties.
My private practice predominantly covers most areas of London and Surrey and I have a therapy room at the bottom of my garden with a different access to that of my home.
The service provides a template for professionals and family members to use with training given if required.
Medical Play: I help children and young people manage their fears, anxieties and difficulties regarding ongoing medical procedures that they may have to cope and learn to live with. I work carefully with children and young people, at their pace, using desensitisation, role play, distraction strategies, coping skills and communication in a safe and therapeutic way, at their own pace.
Emotional Support / Pre and Post Bereavement: Working around the needs of the child, young person or family, I offer supportive listening and activities to help with processing difficult thoughts and feelings around bereavement. The emotional support I provide covers many levels - grief, adoption, fostering, bullying, feeling they are “different” or “don’t fit in”. I also support those who might be having difficulty in their relationships with siblings and/or peers, or attachment to care givers/family members.
Sibling Support: Siblings can often feel left out, particularly if their brother or sister is unwell, and needing additional care and support. Through not wanting to worry siblings, families may not be connecting or communicating effectively with them, without realising. I provide a playful environment, where siblings are listened to and supported, helping them to either re-establish or maintain a healthy relationship with family members.
Therapeutic / Sensory Play: Incorporating arts and craft activities, play dough, slime, sand, water, messy play, shaving foam, paint, clay, cooking, mud, water, music, natural materials etc. I can support those who may be tactile defensive or averse to using their senses to their full potential. I follow the child, young person or family’s lead, exploring at their own pace. My main priority is to provide a safe environment for them to explore the creative arts, express themselves, and ensure they feel secure and supported rather than overwhelmed. I use visual aids and Makaton.
Developmental Play: Sessions are designed around toys and games, imagination and a sense of fun, to develop fine and gross motor skills, communication, social skills and cognition. I focus on giving the child, young person and their family a voice to be heard, both verbally and/or non-verbally, whilst encouraging fun and laughter to be experienced.
The Clients I Work With: Through The Play Specialist Service, I offer a range of services for children and young people (0-16 years) and families with a variety of needs. I work alongside and take a number of referrals from Social Workers, teachers, health professionals as well as parents.
The Types of Therapy I Work With: I use a variety of integrative models within my work, each dependent on the child or young person’s needs and from the assessment I have carried out. Some of the models include guided imagery, desensitization, child/family focused practice, circular questioning reframing, genograms, ecomaps, The Tree of Life, PACE (playfulness, acceptance, curiosity and empathy) and family sculpting, however this list is not exhaustive.
The Ways I Can Deliver My Sessions: Sessions are predominantly Face to Face, particularly for the initial assessment and ‘getting to know you’ period. I also work with children, young people and families on Zoom, Skype and Teams for online sessions.
Sessions are often carried out within the client’s home environment; however, I also work within hospital, hospice, educational settings and from my own therapy space at home. I’m flexible and will always go wherever is most suited to the client.