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Play to Z Ltd

Play Therapy

Play Therapy Services

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What is Play Therapy and how does it differ to other therapy?

Play therapy is a play-based method for helping children and adolescents with behavioural and emotional problems to help themselves. Unlike adult therapies where the focus is on talking, Play therapy enables children to explore issues creatively using play, their natural form of communication. Adults can also benefit from Play therapy which is creative and imaginative rather than cognitive, making it a great tool for building resilience and coping with and resolving difficulties. Play therapy is play with a therapeutic objective such as helping children undergoing change (due to class transition, a new sibling or family separation) to make better choices, improve self-esteem or increase confidence. The therapist takes a non-directive role giving the client an opportunity to ‘play out’ feelings and problems and a safe environment in which to work through issues at their own speed without judgement, interpretation and in control.

Who Can Benefit?

Play Therapy has been clinically shown to benefit children and adolescents suffering from a range of distress and emotional disturbance. Play Therapy is suitable for all children including those with learning, physical and sensory impairments.  It can help alleviate many emotional and behavioural problems, including children who are:

  • Not realising their full potential academically or socially
  • At risk of being excluded from school
  • Unhappy or having friend problems
  • Having nightmares or disturbed sleep
  • Suffering as a result of trauma
  • Victims of neglect or emotional, physical or sexual abuse
  • Witnesses of domestic violence or substance misuse
  • Autistic, have ADHD, life limiting illnesses or disabilities
  • Experiencing transitional, behavioural or anger management problems
  • Being bullied or are bullying
  • Adopted or fostered
  • Suffering because of separated/divorced parents
  • Suffering from anxiety, stress, or phobias
  • Have low self-esteem
  • Suffering from a loss or bereavement

Working creatively helps clients recognise, understand and appropriately express their emotions as well as developing positive strategies for taking control. While educational attainment is not the key focus, play therapy contributes to this as it supports children’s move from a fight or flight state to a just right state wherein they are ready to learn.

How does Play Therapy work?

Creating a warm and empathetic therapeutic relationship and safe environment are essential.  Using Axline’s principles of accepting the client as is, establishing a permissive environment with limited boundaries to keep the therapist and child safe, making the client aware of their responsibilities, following the child’s lead, reflecting back so that the client gains an insight, avoiding hurrying the process and giving the client responsibility to make choices, all help to build a strong and safe relationship. Unlike school and home, play therapy is able to offer something different as the child is free to choose which resources to play with and how, without even needing to tidy up! This can be immensely satisfying and fun and is a key step in giving children the confidence, self-belief and coping strategies to help change their lives.

Session Numbers, Timings and Confidentiality

Sessions typically last 45 minutes and the therapist helps the client to manage their time by providing a countdown. Consistency of time and day and confidentiality are key so while the client is free to share with others what they do within the session the therapist will only disclose details if there is a child protection or safeguarding concern.

Play therapy interventions may be short term (i.e. 12 weeks) or long term which could be a year or more. A Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) is used to highlight areas of need and provide baseline data which will help determine how many sessions are offered. This SDQ is repeated after 8 weeks and at the end of play therapy to compare progress against the therapeutic objective.

The Play Therapy Toolkit

As children are naturally active and sensory they need opportunities to access enriching resources. Sue’s toolkit of play resources includes:

  • sand
  • messy play resources
  • clay and playdough
  • art materials and paint
  • puppets
  • dressing-up clothes and dolls house
  • musical instruments
  • collections of miniatures
  • books for storytelling
  • construction play resources
  • card games

What is Creative Arts Therapy?

Many young people and adults find creative arts much more effective than talking therapies. Art and creative materials such as paints, clay and music enable clients to express themselves, relax, develop self-confidence and coping strategies. The choice of resources made available is guided by the client.


Working with Groups

Where three or more children share the same challenges (such as friendship problems, poor self-esteem, new siblings or transitions) or same therapeutic objective (such as increased self-esteem or improved choices) it may be appropriate and more cost effective to provide Group Play Therapy. This tends to be more directive as the therapist will plan a series of activities over a period of six or more weeks, modelling appropriate behaviour and encouraging the group members to communicate effectively with each other within a safe and containing environment.  Group sessions typically last for an hour or more. Please contact Sue to find out more.

Ensuring Children’s Safety

Safety is paramount when working with children and young people. To ensure safe and professional practice Sue takes the following actions:

  • full clinical supervision
  • holds enhanced DBS Certificate
  • Level 1 Safeguarding Certificate
  • Prevent training qualified
  • holds Professional Liability Insurance
  • works within PTUK’s Ethical Framework
  • member of Play Therapy UK (PTUK)
  • CPD through ongoing training

About Sue Gascoyne


Sue is an accomplished Play Therapist with extensive experience of providing Play therapy in schools and for private clients. Qualified with a Post Graduate Diploma in Play Therapy*, Sue particularly favours creative media such as paint, sand, messy play, clay and role-play, as with appropriate support these resources can be used by children to explore emotions, change, build resilience and mastery. 

Sue works therapeutically with 4 to 7 year olds either individually or in groups. As a published author with a specialism in sensory processing, messy play is common. Sue’s intuitive caring approach has enabled clients to express and manage their emotions and develop resilience and mastery. Her background in sensory processing, autism and sensory attachment have also proved immensely helpful in working with autistic children.

*provisional award pending

The Play Therapy Room

Located in a charming converted stable building in the Hythe, Colchester, our wonderful new Play Therapy Room offers a light and airy inviting environment as well as views of, and opportunities for children to work outdoors in the natural environment.

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Organisations - For schools and organisations, the following standard fees apply:

Initial assessment/interviews/report preparation        £40 plus VAT
Play therapy Sessions                                                   £45 plus travel &VAT

Where a full day package is taken by organisations, so that 4 client sessions/interviews/report writing take place within a day, a discount is available to reflect shorter set-up times and lower fuel costs.

Private Individuals

For individuals, a discounted rate of £40 is offered.

Cancellation Policy

Unless otherwise agreed due to extenuating circumstances unfortunately missed sessions will be charged for.

Contact Details

Based in Colchester I am happy to work flexibly and can travel to a location near you or provide sessions at our welcoming Therapy Room.

To discuss your needs, fees, find out if Play or Creative Art Therapy are right for your child or school and arrange an initial meeting, please contact Sue on the details below.


Work               01206 796722

Mobile             07932 174777



An array of Play Therapy resources are available to purchase.

Please download our leaflet for full information about the range of services on offer.