Play Therapy

In the process of growing up, most children experience difficulty adjusting at some time. Some children may need more help than others in certain areas. Children have a hard time sitting in a big chair, and talking about what bothers them. They don’t know the words to describe what they are feeling or what they are thinking, so sometimes they need to act out or show how they

In play therapy we provide toys and art / crafts for children to use, to say with toys what they have difficulty saying with words. In the play therapy experience, toys are like the child’s words and play is the child’s language. When children can communicate or play out how they feel to someone who understands, they feel better because their feelings have been released.  You have probably experienced the same thing when you were worried about something and told someone who really cared about you and understood, then you felt better and were more equipped to cope. Well, play therapy is like that for children. They can use the dolls, puppets, clay, paints or other toys to say what they think or how they feel. Child Centred Play Therapy is a non directive, humanistic therapeutic process which allows children work through difficult feelings, memories and experiences at their own pace, ensuring the therapeutic environment is both safe and respectful.

How children play and what they do in the playroom is very important. Play Therapy differs from regular play in that the therapist helps children to address and resolve their own problems. Play therapy builds on the natural way that children learn about themselves and the relationships in the world around them. Play provides a safe psychological distance from the problems and allows expression of thoughts and feelings appropriate to their development.


How Does Play Therapy work?

 Play Therapy is a well-researched and effective form of counselling for a wide range of childhood emotional, behavioural, social and psychological difficulties.  Play Therapy can help children learn how to express their thoughts and feelings in
constructive ways, to control their behaviour, to make decisions, and to accept responsibility. Play therapy allows trained mental health practitioners to assess and understand children’s play; the focus is on the child and not the problem. As the child works through their difficulties, they are able to find healthier solutions. Play therapy allows children to change the way they think about, feel toward, and resolve their concerns.


Commonly Asked Questions

What should I tell my child about why they are coming to Play Therapy?

 You can tell your child that they will be coming to a place with a special playroom and that they will be seeing Nina there. You may like to tell your child that the playroom is a place where they can do most of the things they want to do. If your ch
ild asks why they are going, you could say something like, when things are hard at school, home, with friends, or when things are changing at home etc it can help to have a special place to play. With older children, I will spend a bit of time at the beginning of the first session with you present, talking about why they are coming for play therapy sessions.

I’m very sensitive with children in relation to talking about this and want to create a positive experience for your child coming into play therapy. If there’s been a traumatic incident in your family/household, I like to let the child know that I know about this, during this first meeting. I will not expect a child to respond or talk about what has happened, it is just to let your child know, that it is not a secret.


How long and how frequent are play therapy sessions?

 The play therapy sessions are usually scheduled on a regular basis for 50 minutes. Sometimes with a very young child or children with particular special needs, the sessions may be shorter. The sessions are generally weekly. Where possible, I like to have a regular time scheduled for you and your child. This becomes your child’s special playtime and this predictability and consistency is important to the play therapy process and will help your child to feel secure. Like therapy with most adults, play therapy with children is a process. It is not a quick fix. Sometimes adults leave a therapy session feeling great, but sometimes they leave a session feeling emotionally offkilter, and children are no different. Some children change faster than others, and predictions for your child’s pace in therapy is very difficult to provide.


What clothes should my child wear to play therapy sessions?

  Please dress your child in old clothes so that they do not have to be worried about getting paint, sand or water on clothes and shoes. If you’re coming straight from school please bring another set of clothes your child to get changed into. This helps children feel less anxious in the playroom and can help children feel able to be play freely.  Please ensure that they have used the bathroom if required and they are not hungry or thirsty. There are public toilet facilities located on the first floor of the building.


Do I need to stay with my child whilst they are in the play therapy session?

  Yes, this is important so that your child knows that you are in the waiting room and can come and check should they become anxious.


 What should I say to my child when they finish the play therapy session?

  I recommend that you do not ask your child how it was in the playroom or if they had fun today. If your child wants to tell you about what they did or what happened, then this is fine and I suggest responding to your child in a positive way, not asking questions but showing interest in what your child is telling you. Sometimes children do not want to talk about what has happened. It is best if you can follow your child’s lead with this. If your child brings a painting or a picture out of the play therapy session, rather than praising your child or the picture, please try to respond more generally. For example,” you have used a lot of different colours on your picture” or” looks like you took a lot of time doing that picture-seems it is really special for you”. If your child does choose to draw or paint, then whatever it is they have produced is of great value regardless of its appearance. It is special because it is come from your child.


My child has difficulties at school. Can you speak with the teacher and other professionals involved with the family/my childballs-in-basket about the play therapy and about my child?

  I am happy to speak with your child’s teacher and discuss ways
that the
school can support the play therapy. It can also be very helpful for me to speak to the teacher and any other professionals involved with your child, to get a picture from their viewpoint on how your child is going educationally, emotionally, psychologically and socially. I will need to get your written permission to speak with the teacher and/or other professionals involved with your child and family. I will ask you to sign a consent form at our first interview. I will talk with you about what I am looking at discussing prior to any meetings or phone contact with any other professionals involved, to make sure that you are comfortable with this. I will also give you feedback afterwards about what was discussed.


How do I pay for play therapy sessions?

 We have payment facilities at the clinic. I will give you an invoice and a receipt and enabling you to can then claim any rebate that you are entitled to from your private health insurance company or Medicare.


What sort of contact will I have with you about my child’s play therapy sessions?

I will phone you after the first play therapy session to let you know generally how your child went and to check and see how they were after the first session. We will have contact through meetings every 4 or 5 weeks (or phone calls in special circumstances). If something arises in a play therapy session that I feel is important to talk with you about, I will phone you. If anything happens between sessions that are traumatic, worrying or potentially disruptive or very positive for your child, I would appreciate you letting me know this by phone or email. When you bring your child to play therapy sessions, this is their special time and I would ask that you do not discuss with me what is happening or has happened for your child during the week at this time. You are welcome to phone or email me with any concerns or questions that you have.


Can you tell me exactly how things will go for my child in play therapy and will you tell me all about what my child plays?

Every child is different and my work with your child will be focused on their experience and who they are. We do see stages generally in the play therapy process and I will discuss these with you as they relate to your child. I will also talk with you about themes I am seeing in the play therapy sessions. We will also look at ways that you can assist your child linked with the play therapy process. In this play therapy approach called child-centred play therapy, we do not generally talk about a child’s specific play as this can interfere with your child feeling free to express themselves. This form of play therapy is about your child’s inner growth and development. I will do all I can to foster and nurture this through the play therapy process and my time together with your child.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact Nina Fitch.

Research Into The Effectiveness of Occupational Therapy Approaches

Would you like to know more about the research into
the effectiveness of Occupational Therapy approaches?

Please click here for a
comprehensive reference list.

Dr Stuart Shanker and Mike McKay on Self-Regulation

WACOSS Special Members Update

WACOSS and our Partners are pleased to announce that the information about a range of events has been finalised and is now available.

The nexus between neuroscience and child development has created ideal conditions for a developing interest and engagement in self-regulation. Central to this work is Dr Stuart Shanker who was appointed by the Commissioner for Children and Young People, Michelle Scott, as her 2012 Thinker in Residence. Since Stuart’s last visit, the influence of his time with us has been profound and people across a range of sectors, including early childhood, out of home care, children and family services and youth, have been talking about how we might continue the work he initiated, provide opportunities for professional development for practitioners and undertake further work with Stuart and his colleagues in a more in-depth fashion around self-regulation, applying it to the work of their services. That hope is now coming to fruition.


What is Self-Regulation?

Self-regulation refers to the ability of a child to deal with stressful situations effectively and being able to return to a baseline of being calm, focused and alert. To read more about the concept of self-regulation Initiative please click here . To read more about Dr Shanker and his colleagues — including the Project Director, Mike McKay — at the Canadian Self-Regulation Initiative please click here.


Events that will be taking place during Mon 3rd Feb – Thu 13th Feb include:


Raising Children & Self-Regulation: An information Session for Parents – Thu 6th Feb

Today’s Professionals – Learning the Basics of Self-Regulation for Children & Families – Tue 11th Feb

Introductory Master Classes

Introductory Master Class – Tue 4th Feb

Introductory Master Class – Sat 8th Feb

Introductory Master Class – Tue 11th Feb

Advanced and Practice Leader Master Classes

Advanced Master Class – Tue 4th Feb

Advanced Master Class – Fri 7th Feb

 Practice Leader Classes – Tue 3rd Feb & Thu 13th Feb



Please note in order to attend the Advanced and Practice Leader master classes an Expression of Interest form must be completed. Completed forms must be emailed to by Monday 20th January. Notification of acceptance will be sent to successful applicants via email by Friday 24th January.

WACOSS would like to thank our Community Sector Partners Communicare, Wanslea, Child Australia, Parkerville and Ngala.

WACOSS is also pleased to be working with our Corporate Partner, Woodside.

WACOSS acknowledges the Sponsorship from the following Government Agencies Department of Local Government and Communities, Mental Health Commission, Commissioner for Children and Young People, Department of Education and Department of Health.

Please contact Carla Lo Presti at WACOSS on 9420 7222 or should you require further information or assistance with registrations.

Self Regulation for Children, Adolescents and Families, A Sensory Motor Approach

Presented at a Mental Health Professional Network meeting in Perth, Western Australia, this presentation outlines an occupational therapy approach to self regulation for children, adolescents and families with a strong emphasis on the defining sensor pathways and how to stimulate those pathways to the desired result.

To view on SlideShare click here.

To contact the authors of this presentation, please refer to our Contact Us page.

Further information about the Mental Health Professionals Network including how to join can be found at by clicking the linked picture below.
Occupational Therapy LInk - Mental Health Professionals Network

Why Occupational Therapy for Your Family?

Occupational Therapists use a knowledge base of neurology, anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, child development, psychology, psychosocial development, activity-task analysis and therapeutic techniques. They are trained to treat clients holistically, addressing their cognitive, emotional and physical needs through functional, activity-based treatment” (Williams and Shellenberger, 1996, p.5-6).

It is common for parents to worry that their child is not reaching their potential. Some children seem more clumsy, may have problems with their attention and concentration, find it hard to draw, write and complete puzzles, have difficulties interacting with their peers, need a lot of support to regulate their emotions, are overly-sensitive, have lowered self-esteem or struggle to keep up and participate in sports and games.

Parents find that Occupational Therapy assessments are a very useful way of highlighting their child’s strengths, as well as pin-pointing areas that their child may find more challenging. Parents are then supported to develop a plan to both build on the child’s strengths and target areas that may require some additional support or fine-tuning. Occupational Therapy intervention may take the form of individual therapy sessions, group therapy work, school-based support and liaison, family therapy and parent therapy. Some children benefit from an assessment only, and other children benefit from ongoing support and intervention. Every child and family is unique.

If you would like further information about how Occupational Therapy might benefit your child and family, please see our Contact Us page for contact details for our helpful and friendly clinical professionals.