Early Links Supporting Inclusion

Play Therapy

Welcome to Early Links Play Therapy

Play therapy is a form of psychotherapy suitable for babies, children and teens. A therapeutic play practitioner will use different forms of play to help clients work through challenges and build emotional, social, communication and cognitive skills.

Play therapy is evidence-based and delivered by a registered therapeutic play practitioner. Play therapy can involve the client in a one-on-one setting or can include the entire family, and supports individuals with specific diagnoses, medical conditions, or complex and developmental trauma.

What does a therapeutic play practitioner do?

There are four primary play therapy modalities:

Directive Play Therapy is when a therapeutic play practitioner assesses a child’s play skills using standardised play assessments and then structures sessions to direct and model play activities. The aim is to develop the child’s capacity in play, which will build their cognitive, social, and emotional capacity to translate into everyday life. 

The practitioner will direct the first few sessions. Once they have established a rapport with the client, they will alter the sessions so that the client will start directing the play. This approach can be very helpful for neurodiverse clients or clients who have experienced trauma and need support building their play skills. 

Filial Play Therapy is a holistic modality in which the whole family can be involved in sessions. The practitioner can coach parents on how to use basic therapeutic play approaches in the home to build their child’s capacity between sessions. 

Non-directive/Humanistic Play Therapy could be described as paediatric psychotherapy in which a therapeutic play practitioner provides a safe space for a child or teen to explore their inner psyche. Generally, a practitioner would implement non-standardised play assessments in the initial session. These are often creative, like sand tray worlds, playdough models, drawings and the ‘Blob Tree’ chart. Toys often become symbolic of the inner world and can therefore allow the therapeutic play practitioner to hypothesise what a client is processing during each session.

During humanistic play therapy, a practitioner’s job is to track, reflect and mirror the client for the entirety of each session, allowing the client to deepen their play in a safe space. Each session is entirely client-centred and client-led. It enables the client to project any issues holding them back onto toys in the playroom, allowing them to process and integrate these thoughts from the playroom into their everyday lives.

Integrative Play Therapy is a combination of the above modalities.

Who can our therapeutic play practitioner help?

Play therapy can greatly benefit babies, children and teens from birth to eighteen years. Our Therapeutic Play Practitioner is well-versed in early intervention and caters to clients and families needing support for various diagnoses, medical conditions and complex and developmental trauma.

    They celebrate neurodiversity and aim to support clients in celebrating their uniqueness. We use an integrative approach and can combine both directive and non-directive play therapy modalities to support a client’s needs best.

    Meet our friendly Play Therapy Team



    Therapeutic Play Practitioner

    Beck has been working professionally with children for fifteen years and combines her expertise in creative arts with her therapeutic professional experience to provide her clients with an integrative play therapy approach. For the last decade, Beck has worked in paediatric medical trauma as an Arts-in-Health Facilitator for the Starlight Children’s Foundation and Child Protection trauma as a Therapeutic Play Practitioner.

    Beck’s initial tertiary qualifications were in performing arts. She then went on to tertiary-level study in early childhood education and care. She gained entry into postgraduate studies in Therapeutic Child Play and completed her graduate certificate in 2021. Beck is a qualified and Registered Therapeutic Play Practitioner and is currently at the tail end of completing her Master of Child Play Therapy, which, upon completion, she will become a Registered Play Therapist.

    Which areas do our play therapists cover?

    Aberdeen, Abermain, Bellbird, Beresfield, Bolwarra, Branxton, Cessnock, Chisholm, Cliftleigh, Dungog, East Maitland, Gillieston Heights, Greta, Heddon Greta, Hinton, Kurri Kurri, Laguna, Lochinvar, Lorn, Maitland, Morpeth, Muswellbrook, Paterson, Raworth, Raymond Terrace, Rothbury, Rutherford, Singleton, Stroud, Tarro, Telarah, Tenambit, Thornton, Vacy, Windella, Wollombi, Woodberry and more.

    Telehealth sessions are also an option if appropriate for the individual or group participants instead of face-to-face sessions.


    How do I start Play Therapy with Early Links?

    If you’re ready to get started or just want to find out more, you can use the form below to get in touch with us.

    We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have, explain what would be involved and tell you all about the support we can offer.

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      Frequently Asked Questions

      What is play therapy?

      Play therapy is a form of paediatric psychotherapy in which a therapeutic play practitioner uses play as a tool for clients to work through any challenges they are having or to support them to build upon play skills to support them socially, communicatively, cognitively and emotionally.

      Play therapy can support goals like building upon play skills, working through medical trauma and/or building upon social skills through play. A play therapist can use toys and play from a client’s session with them to symbolise and hypothesise what the play means.

      Why does play therapy work?

      Children often love their play therapy sessions as life is busy. It can be rare for a child to be able to play one-on-one with an adult who is completely engrossed in what they are playing, saying and doing. Play therapy can be effective as the child is safe to have agency and can make choices in their sessions while playing with interest-based toys and playing out real-world or fantasy scripts in their play. This helps a child process and integrate their lived experience into their conscious and also allows them to build upon their theory of mind which can support a child to realise and comprehend people other than themselves.

      Playing out lived occurrences can also build resilience and coping skills for everyday life. When children are at liberty to lead their play interactions, even when their play therapist has scaffolded a session, they can often be left wanting to come back again and again, which aids them in progressing in achieving their goals.

      Can play therapy be used for adults?

      Play therapy has been known to be used in aged care settings. It could benefit adults whose chronological age differs from their developmental age.

      What happens in a play therapy session?

      A play therapist will need to conduct a specific play therapy intake so that they can ensure the playroom is set up to contain interest-based toys for your child and can decide which approach will best benefit your child’s needs and goals. In each session, the child is invited into the playroom, and they will be in the playroom for 45-60 minutes.

      If the play therapy sessions are directive, then the play therapist will scaffold each session to aid your child in progressing in their play skills. If the sessions are non-directive, the play therapist will follow your child’s lead and track and reflect their play. Either approach in play therapy generally requires a one-on-one setting, so you will typically wait outside in the waiting area while your child engages in therapy. In saying this, during the therapeutic rapport-building stage (the first several sessions), if your child would prefer you join them, then the play therapist can accommodate this.

      Play therapy sessions can be conducted in the clinic, at school or at home if an area can accommodate this one-on-one intervention.

      Is play therapy evidence based?

      Child-centred play therapy is a research and evidence-based discipline providing paediatric psychotherapy to children through play. It has been used for over sixty years in different parts of the world (United States of America, United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Europe and Australia). Research has revealed its strong efficacy in therapeutic work with children.

      Does play therapy work?

      Play therapy is often client-led rather than task-focused. It is still goal-oriented (especially when it is directive for building upon a child’s pretend play skills) and can often help children achieve goals by allowing them to communicate and connect through play with their play therapist in the playroom. Play therapy is backed by research and has been used worldwide for over sixty years