Therapeutic play

Play is the language of children and as such is a hugely important part of their emotional development. For children with emotional difficulties, regular access to the right kind of play space is effective in helping them to develop self-esteem, regulate their emotions, build resilience and heal. We can offer a fully trained therapeutic play facilitator to work individually with a child for weekly 45 minute sessions. We provide in depth training to our facilitators to be with children in a way that is different from everyday interactions. They become skilled in facilitating a safe play space that is non-directive with as few limits as possible, but as many as necessary (for safety). Above all, the child is given special time in which to work through their feelings in a way that is meaningful to them. For many children, this special time in the presence of a consistent and caring adult is truly transformative. Our facilitators are able to simply be with children – in a space that is free from the day to day stresses of school or family life.  Above all, it is a space that enables children to release their own capacity to grow and heal without judgement.

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.

Arts and talking based therapies

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 find that arts therapies and talking based therapies (such as counselling) are often more appropriate for older children/young people and parents/carers. For young people and parents/carers with emotional difficulties, regular access to the right kind of sessions and space is effective in helping them to develop self-esteem, regulate their emotions, build resilience and heal.

We are careful to tailor the kind of support provided to the young person’s needs and choices. Some young people will gravitate towards a more talking-based model, some may wish to use the space in other creative ways.

How we work

We can provide a fully trained facilitator to work individually with a young person or adult for weekly 45 minute sessions.

All our work is carried out by our trained volunteer facilitators or students from a range of therapeutic disciplines on placement and all are supervised weekly by experienced therapists.

Our facilitators give their time for free – their motivation is to see children and young people thrive. All have an enhanced DBS check, certified safe-guarding training and are overseen by experienced supervisors with a range of therapeutic qualifications.  We use a careful selection process when recruiting facilitators. Some are students of disciplines such as counselling or psychotherapy, others are simply hand-picked for their outstanding personal qualities of kindness, empathy and care.

We believe that the right qualities are often just as important as 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 and the ability to work consistently with us for 1 year+
  • reliability
  • willingness to learn new ways of being with children.



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

Made in 2014 for Carefree Kids by Chime Communications. See our other videos here.