What is Child Centred
A therapy offered to children between 2 and 7 Child Centered Play Therapy an evidence based treatment and the philosophy that every child has an innate ability to express their innermost feelings, thoughts and challenges; to learn to modulate their feelings and behaviours; develop a positive sense of self; problem solve solutions and improve resilience in even the most challenging of situations.
The specific communication style the psychologist uses
supports an accepting, warm and trusting relationship with limit setting in the
context of the child’s natural language of play. The child is able to undertake the internal
work that they require to heal themselves with lasting changes.
How will I know if
play therapy is suitable for my child?
Play therapy helps children with social or emotional
difficulties express their emotions better, improve their behaviour, practice
problem-solving and improve their social relationships.
Play therapy can be used to help children with the following
- Anxiety or depression
- Learning disabilities
- Behavioural disorders
- Autism spectrum
Your child does not need to have a diagnosis to benefit from
play therapy, it can be very useful if your child is experiencing any of these
- Issues with them or other family members with a
serious illness or hospitalisation
- Family conflict or aggression issues
- Family crisis
- School change
- Self-esteem issues
- Peer problems
How often will my
child need to attend?
Continuity and consistency is important for children to feel
safe and heal therefore sessions usually occur on a weekly basis at the same
time for 45 minutes each. The number of
sessions is dependent on the nature and severity of the presenting problem/s
ranging from 6 weekly consultations to weekly sessions over a period of up to 2
Our Child Centred Play Therapists
For children within the 5 to 10 age range I follow the 8 principles of child-centred Play Therapy an evidence-based treatment grounded within the philosophy that every child has an innate ability to express their innermost feelings, thoughts and challenges within a safe environment. Children learn to modulate their feelings and behaviours; develop a positive sense of self; problem solve solutions to life’s difficulties and improve resilience in even the most challenging of situations.
Katherine Shanhun – Senior Psychologist
With over 5 years of experience as a school counsellor and a certificate in child play therapy. Katherine has extensive experience working with children and teenagers. She is passionate about people achieving their goals and uses a number of therapeutic modes in facilitating this. Read more
Stages of Child Centred Play Therapy
A child who attends Child Centered Play Therapy will usually progress through four main stages. Each child will progress through the stages differently and there is no right or wrong way. A child may progress through stages in a consecutive order or move backwards and forwards through the stages. The child’s progress is dependent on their individual experiences of the world to understand and work through their challenges.
Stage 1 Warm up Stage or Exploratory Stage
- Developing a sense of what the therapy space is for and what
they can or cannot do.
- Exploration of the therapy room and getting to know the
- Testing the limits and boundaries with the therapist.
Stage 2 Aggressive or Testing for protection Stage
- When a child feels secure enough in the therapeutic
relationship they will start to express their presenting issues (e.g.,
anger, behavioural concerns) and feel safe to test the boundaries.
- Limits may be set with the child (e.g., supporting the child to
remain in the room, providing options for the child to express their
- The child learns to understand their inner selves and heal by
learning skills through play.
- The child expresses themselves and their presenting problems
and feels accepted, safe and supported.
Stage 3 Regressive or Dependency Stage
- Working through safety and protection concerns, grief and loss,
separation, understanding good or bad or feelings of low self-esteem.
- The child may exhibit increased dependency or regressive
behaviour’s to help them to feel safe (e.g., asking the therapist to do
things for them that are able to do for themselves, acting like a baby).
- The therapist facilitates progress by supporting the child to
express their inner-self (thoughts, feelings/emotions and belief’s) and
engage in problem solving.
Stage 4 Mastery or Therapeutic Growth Stage
- A resolution is reached, the child feels good about themselves and
different behaviours are present (reduction of problematic or challenging
- A confident sense of self, self-acceptance and worth through
mastery of self-directed and appropriate expressions of their unique
personality (their true self) develops.
- The child is able to express their feelings/emotions and
understanding of the world freely with no/minimal distress.
- The child learns a sense of control (not needing to be in
control) to choose and apply effective problem solving and emotion
regulation skills that facilitates resilience and self-efficacy.
NOTE: When a child
reaches a resolution the child may need another (1-4) sessions to consolidate
the changes, prepare the child for termination of therapy and to say good-bye
to the therapist and the therapy play room.
The information provided was compiled by Natalie Marques (Registered Psychologist) with reference to authors and Child Centered Play Therapists Dr. Garry Landreth, Louise Guerney, and Jewel Janan.
If you are interested in other Child Psychologist services you can read more here.