Play Therapy and Creative Arts Therapy by Clara Lloyd

I’ve heard a lot about play therapy, and as someone who is interested and who has worked in the creative arts industry, I’m aware of the benefits of creative arts on children and families. One Mam who has decided to study and develop her expertise in this field, by providing bilingual sessions for schools and families, is Clara Lloyd from Machynlleth. I invited Clara to share her experience and tell us a bit more about her work…

It was Child mental Health Week last week and what better time to talk about Play and creative arts Therapy and it’s benefits.

Mental health problems affect about 1 in 10 children and young people. They include depression, anxiety and conduct disorder, and are often a direct response to what is happening in their lives.

Statistics show that 3 in 4 mental health illnesses start in childhood.

Play and creative art therapy is a type of counselling for children of all ages which can help address emotional difficulties and emerging mental health symptoms. Play is the natural language of children and is vital to every child’s social, emotional, cognitive, physical, creative and language development.

So when children are struggling with difficult feelings, behaviour  or relationships, or when they experience something troubling, it’s natural to expect that they will be able to express themselves and make sense of their situation best, using the language of play or for older children though the use of the creative mediums. Play and creative arts therapy does not require verbal communication or cognitive understanding of their feelings/ words/ emotions and therefore is better able to meet the needs of younger children.

Play Therapy helps children understand muddled feelings and upsetting events that they haven’t had a chance to sort out properly
e.g parent separation, anxiety.  Rather than having to explain what’s troubling them, as adult therapy usually requires, children use play to communicate at their own level and at their own pace, without feeling interrogated or threatened. Children are often having to deal with the impact of adult issues which they are not able to control or understand.

Within the therapeutic sessions, Children are free to play and express themselves however they need to and the role of the Play Therapist is to follow their lead and join them in their play when and how they want me to.

Over time, a relationship of warmth, trust and safety develops between the therapist and the child, which enables them to explore, express and experiment  in ways that they might not be able to anywhere else. This can help them make sense of their past and cope better with their future. This is a therapeutic process which is confidential, regular and time limited.

The outcomes of Play Therapy may be general e.g reduction in anxiety and raised self esteem, or more specific such as change in behaviour and improved relations with family and friends.

Play Therapists receive extensive training in subjects such as child development and attachment. They are also trained to use play, a child’s natural form of expression, as a means of understanding and communicating with children about feelings, thoughts and behaviour.

Who am I? My name is Clara Lloyd and I am a therapeutic play practitioner working towards becoming a qualified Play Therapist. I am  registered and training with Play Therapy UK who hold one of the accredited registers for qualified Plat Therapists. I come from a Social Work background and have worked in a range of statutory, education and private settings.

I have always perceived behaviour as a reflection to the inner emotional needs and was always searching for an intervention which could empower the internal skills within us . I became aware of Play Therapy over 10 years ago but looking back it didn’t feel the right time to commit financially and emotionally to the training. After the birth our amazing daughter, my interest in attachment developed, the links to this on neuroscience and the implications if this interaction if disrupted or absent. I was able to correlate the theory to my own and other work experience and advocate the importance of play in developing relationships. From the outset, I would encourage parents, carers, grandparents, aunts and uncles to get down in the floor and enjoy the interaction that takes place between you and the child. Let go of all your innerhebitions and connect with your inner playful child.

As a Mum, I feel more empowered to support children, parents and carers using this therapeutic work and would like to develop this in the future. Also, I am better able to fit my working career around my my families needs as ultimately this is my main priority.

Chwarae Tic Toc Play was established a year and a half ago, initially providing sensory/messy play sessions for parents and children, giving children and parents different experiences and supporting early attachment and development, another area which interests me. We also have Bouncy Castle which we Hire out for Birthday parties and events in and around the Machynlleth area.

I am very passionate about the work I do and can’t advocate enough how this therapeutic approach is able to meet the mental and emotional  needs of our children.

I am currently working in schools, supporting the early identification and preventative provision of pupils with emerging emotional support need. As we all know,  in order for a child to  be able to learn effectively they need to feel safe, secure with all their needs met. If they have any worries or concerns that they have not been able to process or understand, being able to learn and take part in any academic activity is disrupted. Providing Play Therapy in schools helps meet these needs and has a positive impact across the whole school: children are better able to learn, supported and valued pupils, improved pupil mental health, better management of challenging behaviour and better class and staff morale.

I will continue to work in schools but also plan to set up a private practice within the area in the future.

Mam Cymru would like to thank Clara for explaining the importance and role of play therapy and creative play. We wish you the best of luck! To contact Clara email her on neu ewch i’r dudalen facebook

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