Counselling can provide children with a kind of unbiased attention, empathy and space to express how things are really going for them. With the counsellor the child is able to process their feelings, voice their confusion and ask questions that they may not feel able to ask their parents. Counselling can act as a voice for a child, if necessary and can monitor children’s well-being during stressful times.
Counselling modalities such as: - Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Family Therapy, Parent Child Interaction Therapy, Sandplay & Expressive Therapy can assist children to develop life-enhancing qualities such as confidence and resilience.
Counselling and non-verbal therapies such as Sandplay and Therapeutic Play are all extremely effective methodologies for children. Working with families and carers is sometimes an essential part of working with children. Sandplay is a gentle, nurturing approach to counselling children who have experienced trauma, anxiety, bullying, grief & loss. Sandplay with children is a wholistic, non-verbal form of counselling therapy. Many children are unable to verbalise emotional states, particularly in the face of trauma, neglect, or abuse. The non-verbal nature of Sandplay Therapy and familiar medium of sand can help children achieve feelings of comfort and security. By using miniature objects that represent all aspects of life the child will clearly display their inner world. It is a deep process which shows what underlies the current situation that the client is presenting with. Sandplay allows a movement within the client that is profound. It identifies unspoken issues and brings solutions. The Sandplay process usually consists of a minimum of six sessions or as required.
Therapeutic Play is a powerful means of joining with the innate, creative, non-verbal capacities of children in order to engage and work therapeutically with them. It is a developmentally appropriate evidence-based method of counselling younger clients. In therapeutic play, children can play out, literally and/or metaphorically, their inner and real life experiences in a way that builds insight and capacity. Therapeutic play allows children to express themselves, regulate their emotions, enhance communication skills and develop new skills & emotional responses.
Animal Assisted Play Therapy is defined as the integration of animals in the context of play therapy, in which counsellors and animals engage with clients primarily through systematic playful interventions, with the goal of improving clients’ developmental and psychosocial health while ensuring the animals’ emotional well-being and voluntary engagement.
Animal Assisted Play Therapy is offered on selected days/times and assists children with regulating their emotions and developing the skill of identifying the social cues of others. Often children with ASD, ADHD, Anxiety, FaSD and ODD have difficulties mis-reading the social cues of their peers and adults.
Animal Assisted Guiding Principles that ensure the physical and emotional well-being of clients and animals as well as the quality of therapy we follow the principles guidelines of AAPT which include:-
Respect - to ensure equal and reciprocal respect of clients and animals.
Safety – activities must be physically and emotionally safe for all involved.
Enjoyment & Choices – must be enjoyable and pleasant for the animals as well as the clients.
Acceptance – the therapist accepts and works with the clients’ needs and feelings, taking into consideration any expectations on the animal.
Relationship – animals are taught to behave politely and respectfully of clients, clients learn to treat animals with tolerance and respect.
Empowerment which encourages growth, independence, and building of competence and confidence.
Process, AAPT is a process-orientated form of therapy.
Foundations, AAPT is grounded in well-established theories and practise. (VanFleet R, Faa-Thompson T 2017)
Sandplay, over 70 years ago Dora Kalff of Switzerland, having been influenced by Margaret Lowenfeld a pioneering child psychoanalyst, and Carl Jung a Swiss psychiatrist, developed Sandplay Therapy. This is now recognised and practised successfully throughout the world.
Lisa is a trained Sandplay therapist, Counsellor and an Early Childhood Educator. Lisa has worked with children and families for the past 23 years in roles which include Trauma Counselling, Child & Family Work, Refuge Worker & Early Childhood Education. As a member of the Australian Counselling Association she is a counsellor working to support the well-being and growth of children, families and community.
VanFleet, R. Faa-Thompson, T. (2017). Animal Assisted Play Therapy. USA. Professional Resource Press
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