Therapeutic play

Non directive therapeutic play offers a child a safe space and a wide selection of play and arts materials, which they can use as they wish. By allowing children the freedom to play, explore, create and express themselves they develop a greater sense of self and can flourish. Children who have access to therapeutic play often show increased self confidence, resilience, happiness, and this can impact positively on all areas of their life.



Where appropriate, drama (and associated expression such as puppetry) is sometimes incorporated into the therapeutic play sessions. The medium of drama can be a powerful medium in which to work through troubling issues to promote emotional change.


The use of art can become part of some therapeutic play sessions and can provide an appropriate space in which particular thoughts, feelings and difficult emotions may be expressed.

It can be an outlet for often complex issues which may not necessarily be possible to express verbally.


We welcome dance/movement therapy practitioners/students as this is an area we would like to expand.

How we work

All our work is carried out by our trained volunteers or students on placement and all are supervised by experienced therapists.

We believe that qualities are more important than qualifications and invite anyone with an interest in this work to contact us, whatever their educational or vocational background.

Soft toysWe judge essential qualities to include:

  • empathy
  • commitment
  • reliability
  • willingness to learn new ways of being with children.

Initially new volunteers attend an informative information day at Carefree Kids to find out more details about volunteering with the charity and non-directive therapeutic play in particular.

New volunteers are asked to come to one or two training/supervision group sessions to meet us and decide whether they want to train with us. We get to know new volunteers over several weeks or months through their attendance at a weekly group.

There are now 9 weekly training/supervision groups. These are run using a team of highly experienced supervisors trained in play therapy, drama therapy and child therapy.

When a volunteer is ready, he or she is allocated one child or more to see weekly in school time at school for 45 minutes. The volunteer observes the child once in class and in the playground. Therapy usually starts the following week. The volunteer continues to come to a weekly group to discuss how the session went, to receive feedback from group members and the supervisor, and to learn about the progress of other children.

Supervision is a collective process, and volunteers are asked to contribute to, and learn from, these weekly sessions, even if their own child was not at school that week.

Supervisors are trained in disciplines such as dramatherapy and psychotherapy.

How long do volunteers stay?

It is an open ended process so being open to a long term commitment is ideal.


We have a strict rule about keeping all information confidential and making sure that notes about children do not contain names or places that could identify children to an outside person.

Disclosure and Barring Service

Carefree Kids offers an in-house Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) application service as all volunteers must be checked before working with a child.


Every Carefree Kids event begins and ends strictly on time. Please make sure you get to every venue in good time, as latecomers disrupt the session and miss information.

Mobile phones

Please get into the habit of switching off your mobile phone before you enter any Carefree Kids event or therapy session.

Students on placement

We can accept certain students but cannot guarantee that we can provide them with cases as soon as they might need them. We like to have a waiting list of trained volunteers and students, not a waiting list of children.


We have an expanding collection of books and DVDs about play therapy and allied subjects. Volunteers can borrow one item at a time for one week by giving us a one-off returnable £10 deposit.

Support and counselling for parents

Some volunteers want to work with parents and carers, not children. Some parents of the children whom we see for therapy welcome individual help for themselves. This can take place at the school, at the parent’s home, or at our office in Leyton.

Volunteers participating in an art therapy session at a Carefree Kids study day, 2014.

Made in 2014 for Carefree Kids at no cost by Chime Communications. See our other videos here.