Play Therapy Cork

Non Directive Play Therapy

Myriam Clancy MA

I am a Non Directive Play Therapist practicing in Cork City, both IPTA and BAPT accredited ( , ensuring a high level of training.

Services available:

One to one Non Directive Play Therapy

Play Therapy clinical supervision 

Parent consultation on a particular difficulty

Parenting courses (Parents Plus)

Training to primary school teachers on managing challenging behaviours within the classroom setting

Information sessions on Non Directive Play Therapy available, please email your requests 

Information for Children


Why am I going to see a Play Therapist?

The Play Therapist has been asked to see you because you feel sad or angry or scared about something or perhaps because something horrible has happened. Maybe you can't help fighting or crying or you feel bad about yourself. Sometimes, it is hard to talk about your feelings so your Play Therapist will try to help you feel better without you having to explain things. That's because children play their feelings better than they talk about them.

What will my Play Therapist do?

Your Play Therapist will meet the grown ups who know you best to find out how you are and plan how to help you. Then you and your Play Therapist will play together, so you can get to know each other. Your Play Therapy sessions will usually last about an hour and happen at the same time and in the same place each week.

Will my Play Therapist tell other people what we've been playing?

When you first meet, your Play Therapist will talk to you about what is private and just between the two of you and what they might sometimes need to share with other people. Your Play Therapist won't tell anyone the actual details about what you have played or talked about, but sometimes they will need to talk to a grown up about how you are. Your Play Therapist will have to tell other grown ups if they are really worried about you - it is really important that other people get to know if you are not safe. Your Play Therapist will want to talk to you about this.

Do I have to keep it private too?

That's up to you - Play Therapy isn't a secret. You can talk about what you've been doing to anyone you want to, but you don't have to. If you feel like keeping it to yourself, that's OK. 



Information for Parents/Carers


What Is Play Therapy?

Play Therapy is a mode of therapy that helps children understand painful experiences and upsetting feelings. As play is a child’s natural form of expression, it can allow them communicate at their own level without having to put it into words. Play allows the child to release needs, fears and wishes. It also helps them to address emotional and behavioral difficulties.

What Age Children Is Play Therapy Suitable For?

Play Therapy is a suitable intervention for children aged between two and half and sixteen years. 
Play Therapy Is Helpful For: Children who are dealing with parental conflict, separation or divorce. Children who are dealing with self-esteem issues Children who have been traumatised (sexual, physical or emotional abuse). Children who have been adopted or are in foster care. Children who are dealing with issues of loss, such as illness or death of a loved one. Children who have been hospitalised. Children who have witnessed domestic violence. Children who have experienced serious accidents or disasters. Children with various disabilities such as Attention Deficit Disorder, Autism, Physical disabilities.

How Can Play Therapy Help My Child?

Play Therapy can help in many different ways. 
• It provides your child with emotional support. 
• It can help them make sense of life experiences by playing them out at their own pace. 
• By allowing your child to make sense and understand their feelings it will in turn help them cope with the future. 
• It can help your child to deal with conflict/angry feelings in more appropriate ways. 
• Play therapy can help you the carer to understand your child’s world. 
The hope at the end of therapy might include some of the following-a change in the worrying behaviour, improved self-esteem and confidence and stronger relationships with family and friends. 



Information for Professionals


What Is Play Therapy? 
Play Therapy is an effective form of therapy for children with a wide range of emotional and behavioural difficulties including depression, anxiety, aggression and issues relating to difficult life experiences such as abuse, bereavement and loss, family breakdown/separation, domestic violence and trauma.

Children use play as a form of communication in everyday life.  In Play Therapy children use play to express themselves.  Children enter into a dynamic relationship with the play therapist, which enables them to express, explore and make sense of their difficult and painful life experiences.

Play Therapy can help children develop confidence and positive self-esteem.  It can help them find healthier ways of communicating and can promote resilience and coping.  As the child in Play Therapy is helped to gain control over difficult feelings, memories and reactions, and learns to deal with them more effectively within the playroom, he/she generally transfers these newly developed skills to his everyday life.

In individual play therapy the therapist’s responsibility is with the child and helping the carers to understand the child’s emotional needs and fears, but not to meet the family’s therapeutic needs as a whole.    
Theoretical Introduction to Play Therapy: 
Play therapy has its roots in Child Psychotherapy; however the more specific theoretical elements have emerged from the Humanistic Psychology tradition.    Carl Rogers (1951, 1955) developed Person Centred Therapy in which the relationship between the therapist and client is based upon genuineness, acceptance and trust.  Axline (1969, 1971) influenced by this approach, utilised its theoretical foundations to devise a clear and succinct Play Therapy method, she called -“Non-Directive Play Therapy”. It has a firm foundation in child developmental principles including;

  • Piaget’s framework of adaptation and mental schemas.
  • Attachment theory and internal working models.
  • Erikson’s emotional developmental perspective.

Often emotionally damaged children need intensive corrective experiences, such as that provided by Play Therapy. It provides a permissive, enhanced play environment in which the child is free from environmental constraints, to re-enact emotionally damaging experiences on a symbolic level.  

The child directs the pace and content of the sessions. The therapist focuses on the child’s feelings and sets certain therapeutic limits.  The child’s thoughts and feelings are made conscious and given symbolic representation. Through increased symbolic assimilation the child’s internal structures become more mobile and result in changes in the child’s behaviour and mental organisation.
Structure of Play Therapy:

  • Referral received from social work/psychiatry/school.
  • Referral meeting and discussion with appropriate professionals involved with the child.
  • Meeting with the child’s parents/carer(s).
  • Meeting with the child, in the family home (if possible).
  • Play Therapy sessions:  50-minute regular weekly sessions.
  • Regular review sessions with parent/carer.
  • Regular review sessions with referrer and other relevant staff (social worker/teacher, key worker).

How many sessions are recommended? 
While eight to ten sessions may be sufficient for less complex cases where the child is well supported by the primary carer, long term or on going issues may require further blocks of therapy.  Complex cases may require long-term intervention (12 months or more) with regular breaks in the therapy.  

Important Considerations Regarding Referrals:    

  • There is an assessment process undertaken prior to professional play therapists accepting referrals.

Please note that validation or diagnosis is not a goal of professional play therapy.

  • Some referrals may be deemed unsuitable for play therapy. For example, children in short-term accommodation and/or about to undergo a major change.  Those with severe learning difficulties, children with personality disorders or childhood psychosis.
  • It is important that the play therapy sessions are consistent for the child, taking place in the same space and at the same time. It is also important to note that ending play therapy sensitively is crucial.  Premature or unplanned endings are always detrimental to the child.
  • The referrer’s support can play a vital role in complimenting Play Therapy, consultation regarding important information such as significant changes or events in relation to the child, which take place within the duration of this therapeutic intervention.  
  • Ideally, the child will be accompanied to Play Therapy by a parent/carer or key worker.  The adult is required to wait on the premises for the hour while the child is in therapy.