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Therapeutic Play
play therapy puppets in the play room
Fingerpuppet Fox introduces some of the puppets and toys in the therapy room
What is therapeutic play?

Therapeutic play means doing therapy through objects, art and stories, using creativity to communicate and to access intuitive knowledge. The child (or adult) client can express themselves by acting out play scenarios, drawing, talking, (or just play!). The counsellor responds and works with the information produced to help the client create new solutions which can then be used in the real life world too. The play therapy room is a safe, fun, space with puppets, dolls, toys, art materials, play dough or clay, musical instruments, and a sand tray with many different figurines and symbolic toys with which the client can tell stories, invent imaginary worlds, and build a safe relationship with the counsellor. Unspoken fears can be expressed and safely left behind at the end of the session.

play therapy - sand-tray  - emotional conflict?
play therapy - sand-tray with ship and bear
Sand-tray play allows us to create contained worlds which express inner realites and then explore and change them. Through play, children learn to face loss, anger and fear and discover their ability to find their own solutions to real problems by doing so in the therapy world.


'As-if' Play


The stories created often contain elements of both real life and fantasies.

Most counsellors (including me) rarely ask how 'true' the story is - play therapy is about exploring and sharing possibilities and emotional truths not finding out exactly what happened. The client is in control of what to show, and how far to tell the counsellor what it means, which allows them to move at their own pace.

Clients who find it hard to talk in ordinary therapy feel safe to explore secrets and 'discover' things which they have not acknowledged fully even to themselves.

play therapy - domestic violence?
play therapy puppets - it's good to  talk, Kobe, Kansai, Japan

Furry Fruit Bat is a good listener for Big Black Bird...


... but Python tells it like it is.



child play therapy - it's good to talk, Kobe, Kansai, Japan
Expressing feelings and trying out new ways of behaving is much easier when it's not you but a puppet who's talking.
Therapeutic Play for Adults 
adult therapeutic play, Kobe, Japan

"We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing"

Play and creativity engages different parts of the brain which allows unconscious new solutions or perspectives to emerge naturally - especially for adults who are not used to being creative. People who are not sure what to talk about, or those who have come to a 'dead end', often find play therapy releases new possibilities. The same psychotherapeutic principles are used in play therapy as in talking therapy so the two can be mixed. Therapeutic play does not require ANY artistic ability.

Using natural objects to represent people can give us new insights about our relationships with them

Therapeutic Play for Children, Teenagers and Families

For children play is work. It is the way they learn how to be in the world. It is easier for children to communicate through play than just talking because nearly all children soon begin to talk about their play willingly. Children love the play therapy room, so they look forward to coming to therapy.Teenagers who don't like talking often like art or music and communicate through these means with a counsellor who is willing to listen.

By making stories children can let us know what their concerns are about, and resolve their fears and anxieties (or anger) through manipulating the different characters they use. Because the 'results' are often in images and stories they are extremely memorable and easier for a child's brain to understand and use than logical explanations. The counsellor, and sometimes parents, can join in the play to respond and work with the ideas the client raises.

Click here for more information about Children, Parents and Families

children's art therapy group for teenagers

*Play therapy scenarios shown here have been staged for the photographs - real sessions are confidential

Home Background &Qualifications Counselling Children, Parents &Families Info for Organisations Other Resources Contact, Access & Prices 日本語
Please contact me if you have further questions or wish to arrange an initial meeting


Telephone no: 0081-(0)78-453-1030
email: englishcounselling@gmail.com