Case Study in Non-Directive Play Therapy
Dan is a nine year old boy in year 6 who experiences social & emotional behavioural difficulties (SEBD).
He lives in a large family in the outskirts of Manchester. Dan struggled to engage in education and in the classroom environment. He accessed 1:1 support from the pastoral team. Dan was on the verge of permanent exclusion from school.
Dan was referred to access play therapy to support him and allow him a safe space away from the classroom environment. In the early sessions he was very vigilant towards me and my role and had limited vocabulary, no eye contact, and devoid of any facial expressions. As time passed and he demonstrated through his body language he felt comfortable and at ease in the play space. He began to let down his barriers and explore the play materials, eventually inviting me into his play. His eye contact increased and his facial expressions began to soften and relax, eventually building up his vocabulary, sharing stories about himself and his family and friends. A sense of trust become established within the therapeutic relationship, giving him spells of self-confidence and he began to show emotional warmth towards himself and others.
Each week he looked forward to his play therapy session and entered into the room with a big smile on his face. He explored the materials, using drums, games, painting, clay and the sand tray. Dan began to open up and explore his inner most thoughts, feelings, emotions, fears, hopes and desires. We had developed a strong therapeutic relationship, based on trust, confidentiality, warmth, empathy, UPR (unconditional positive regard) and acceptance. This was very important to him and he felt very safe and secure. Dan’s overall demeanour began to flourish and he began to feel good about himself and his self-esteem and his sense of self began to increase allowing him to become autonomous.
Dan’s began to attend school regularly and re-engage with education and take part his daily lessons. To continue to support him, the school allowed him to become a buddy to support other children in foundation years and became a role model to other children. He continued to flourish in his overall emotional wellbeing and academic studies, eventually making a positive transition into secondary school.
Sandy Dunphy Play Therapist
Rolls Crescent Primary school Manchester
"Our year six pupil was at risk of exclusion having completely disengaged with lessons in the classroom. He was struggling to respond to any adult led activities and lacked trust in the adults who were attempting to support him.
After only half a term in play therapy there were already noticeable differences in the way he was communicating with adults and regulating his behaviour. As the weeks went by he started to engage once more in some lessons, giving purposeful attention to tasks and the teachers who were delivering lessons. His negative attitude towards himself and others began to change and after two terms of therapy, Dan’s confidence had grown. He attempted tasks without fear of failure, learnt that it was ok to make mistakes and most importantly that he was ok and that he liked who he was.
The positive changes in him, brought about through play therapy had a wider impact on his family, his class, his teacher and the whole school."
SENCO, Rolls Crescent Primary School, Manchester