How are children referred for therapeutic play?

Most referrals are made by the SENCO, learning mentor, head teacher or deputy/assistant head. Sometimes parents or an outside professional refer a child.

Please telephone us if you would like to discuss referring any child you are worried about.

We will then visit you, discuss setting up therapeutic play at your school, and learn about the child.

Before therapeutic play begins the school obtains written permission from the parent(s) whom we like to meet. We then allocate a volunteer therapist who observes the child once in the classroom and the playground.

Which types of children can be referred?

The children we have worked with since we began in 2004 have had one or more of these characteristics:

  • bitter parental separation
  • parent absent (prison, hospital, desertion, child not allowed to see parent)
  • unreliable absent parent (e.g. promises to visit and doesn’t turn up)
  • fostered or adopted status or brought up by other relatives
  • unexplained failure to learn or concentrate in class
  • suspected autism spectrum
  • elective mutism
  • extreme anger / aggressive to other people / lack of self-control
  • bullied or bully
  • sibling with severe special needs or causing severe stress to family through behaviour
  • history of sexual abuse / sexualised behaviour and/or speech
  • witness of domestic violence
  • at risk of fixed term or permanent school exclusion
  • organic special needs / learning difficulties
  • parent(s) with poor parenting skills
  • parent(s) in poor mental and/or physical health / substance abusers
  • fear of going to school
  • insecure factor at home, e.g. threat of deportation
  • marked sibling rivalry / step- or half-siblings
  • self-harm / eating disorders
  • lack of social skills / friends
  • bereavement (parent, sibling, grandparent etc)

How long does therapy last?

Therapy usually begins the week after and takes place at the same time every week for 45 minutes during the school term. We invoice the school after each term.

We cannot know when we start with a child how long will be needed. We have completed work with one child after three years, and with another for two terms (which is unusually short).

We like to continue until the school, parents and Carefree Kids agree that enough has been provided. We hope our volunteers will stay that long. If they leave before the work is completed, we can usually provide another volunteer. Many children seem to adapt surprisingly easily to this change.

Who are the volunteers?

They are men and women from a variety of ethnic, educational, vocational backgrounds, some with a great deal of experience with children, others not. Many live and work in the borough. A few are on placement with us from therapeutic training courses. We judge them all to have essential qualities for play therapy:

  • empathy
  • patience
  • commitment
  • reliability.

Volunteers all have an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and attend weekly supervision groups led by qualified therapists.

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Support us

Find out more about how you can volunteer to work with us and other ways to support our work, such as making a donation: