Intervening Early: Using a Child’s Natural Language of Play to Heal Trauma.

22 Mar 2023

We’re delighted to have such passionate and experienced therapists working with us at Be Centre. Thank you, Lily, for sharing your insights so more professionals can understand the power of play therapy.

Lily recently presented at the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Conference 2023 (CAMH23) which was focused on ‘Progressing Mental Health Care for all Young People’.

The key goals of the conference were:

  1. To address key mental and emotional health challenges facing children and adolescents whilst planning to improve their access to adequate mental health services and ensure the development of culturally tailored programs for marginal communities.
  2. To support mental health professionals and emerging workers in the field by providing access to networking opportunities and a high level of professional development.
  3. To provide a platform for government policy and initiatives to update, inform and seek feedback from the people who are living and delivering the services in the community.
  4. To encourage multi-sectoral collaboration and create an engaging space for knowledge sharing, case studies and learning opportunities in order to advance mental health for future generations.

Our team was invited to present at this conference, with Lily sharing knowledge with like-minded professional around the importance of ‘Intervening Early: Using a Child’s Natural Language of Play to Heal Trauma’.

Lily’s presentation expanded on the following:

Play is one of the most important needs children have. It’s intrinsically motivated and impacts many aspects of growth and development.

Child-centred Play Therapy is an evidence based therapeutic approach that helps children process complicated emotions through their natural medium of communication, which is play; toys are seen as the child’s words and play as their language.

Be Centre is one of Australia’s leading play therapy organisations and has developed programs such as the 1-to-1 ‘Hear Me Play’ program that gives at-risk children the
opportunity to express themselves through the medium of play. Be Centre seeks to contribute to developing the play therapy evidence base and champion its role in early intervention and prevention.

Play therapy has a positive effect on the behavioural and social-emotional competencies of children. This includes positive effects on behavioural problems, internalising and externalising behaviours, social adjustment, anxiety and fear, development, self-efficacy and self-concept.

The positive effect of play therapy on behavioural and social-emotional competencies can be observed in both normal functioning children and children with specific presenting issues such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and disruptive behaviours.

Play therapy has a positive effect on academic performance, especially in the areas of reading, mathematics and spoken language. Play therapy has a positive effect on children’s relationships with both their peers and family members. Children whose parents and/or carers are involved in their play therapy journey exhibit greater benefits. The age, gender, cultural background and presenting issues of a child are unlikely to alter its efficacy.

Evidence exists to suggest that play can help to prevent the onset of health and well-being consequences associated with adverse childhood experiences. The childhood benefits of play therapy may help to prevent individuals from exhibiting anti-social behaviour, criminal behaviour and severe mental health issues in later life.

We sat down with Lily to find out a little more about her:

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Sydney but have recently spent five years living in London.

What inspired you to work in Play Therapy?

During my work with children in schools who experienced trauma, I found play to be a way for us to connect with each other and for them to feel safe. The more we played, the more I realised how powerful the process was for them. As I watched the play transform the way they saw themselves in the world, I knew it was the right path for me.

What do you like most about your job?

I am always in awe of how my clients explore their ‘whole self’ through creative ways in the playroom. The safety and acceptance that play therapy provides allows me to celebrate each child and connect with them without words.

What kind of play do you enjoy the most?

I love any kind of play that involves a messy, sensory element- sand, water or getting my hands into paint!

Refection:

I have a commitment to using play and creativity as an early intervention strategy. Using an integrative holistic model, I create a therapeutic space that is safe, warm and nurturing. I work closely with clients, their families and key professionals to provide a treatment plan which reflects the complex needs of each child and enables them to find their unique voice.

Quals:

Lily holds a post-graduate Certificate in Therapeutic Play Skills, Level 2 and 3 Award in Counselling with Children, Masters of Play Therapy (currently completing), Bachelor of Communications, PTUK, PTI, BACP.


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