LARCCs Children’s Service

Children’s support services

Cancer Support Sanctuary LARCC offers a Play Therapy
service for children who have been affected by cancer, either with a diagnosis of their own, of that of an immediate family member.

Children use play as a form of communication – some
children may be referred to Play Therapy if they cannot
find the words to express how they are feeling. In Play
Therapy, children enter into a dynamic relationship with
the therapist that enables them to express, explore and
make sense of their difficult and painful experiences.

This specialised service is delivered by one of
LARCC’s counsellors who is a qualified Play Therapist
and is aimed at young families who are in need of support
due to a cancer diagnosis.
Sessions are on an appointment basis following an
initial assessment visit.
Evening appointments can be made available for
school going children.


Please contact the Centre for further information.



What is so IMPORTANT about Play?

Play is the most important thing a child can do. When children play they are functioning at their optimal level of development. Increasing the complexity of their play skills facilitates all areas of their development. Play is not only the essence of a happy childhood, it is the way children learn – about themselves, their bodies, their environment, and the people and objects around them.

For a child, play is serious business; through play, a child develops self-confidence, a positive self-image and learns to express feelings, make decisions and cope with real-life situations.

Professional Play Practice

All play has educational, developmental and therapeutic potential. The emphasis placed on each aspect varies according to the context and the goals of the professional involved as well as the particular needs of the child. What they have in common is the fundamental belief in the natural power of play.

What is Play Therapy?

Sometimes children experience difficulties and behave in ways that may cause disruption to their lives or be of concern to those around them. Play therapy provides a child with an opportunity to ‘play out’ their thoughts, feelings and problems just as, in certain types of adult therapy, an individual ‘talks out’ their difficulties.

Play therapy uses the therapeutic powers of play to help children achieve optimal growth and development and to prevent or resolve a range of development and/or emotional difficulties. It promotes resiliency and assists children to develop holistically and increase emotional intelligence. Play therapists also utilise play as a means of preventing or treating psychosocial disorders, and to help children overcome issues for example those associated with ADHD, sensory processing, ASD, dyspraxia, speech and language, or any type of learning difficulty.

There is a fundamental difference between the child’s play in other situations and their play in play therapy. The structure and quality of the relationship between the play therapist and the child provides opportunities for therapeutic healing and repair. This transforms the play to play therapy. The play therapist is an informed container of the child’s therapeutic work providing a unique understanding of the child’s inner world.

Who is Play Therapy for?

Any child can benefit from play therapy. It promotes self-confidence, imagination, creativity, concentration, communication, problem-solving skills, self-esteem and, most importantly, happiness in the child.

Play therapy is suitable for children as young as two to three years old and there is no upper age limit. Play therapists who are also psychotherapists may use creative and play based approaches with adult and adolescent clients also.

Play therapy is a useful intervention for all children as it facilitates them in making sense of the world, reaching their potential and developing resilience and emotional intelligence.

Possible referral issues include:                                                                                                      

Behavioural issues                              Trauma

Communication difficulties               Bereavement or loss

Delayed development                         Abuse or neglect

Educational delays                               Anxiety

Relationship difficulties                      Bullying

Parental separation                              Low self-esteem

Family disruptions                                Poor play skills

What is a Play Therapist?

Play therapists are clinical practitioners who promote positive mental health and emotional well-being. They undertake extensive training, supervision and personal therapy.

Play therapists are often also trained in psychotherapy and use play as the language by which they communicate with children. They use approaches, interventions, media, and activities that are appropriate to the age and developmental stage of the client, which enable the child to communicate non-verbally, symbolically and in an action-oriented manner. The development of a therapeutic relationship is central to their work.

Training courses are at postgraduate level, taking a minimum of 2 years to complete. Applicants generally hold a professional qualification in a relevant area and have substantial relevant experience before embarking on the play therapy specific training.

Play therapists who have also trained in psychotherapy (either prior to or as part of their play therapy training, minimum 4 years) are qualified to work with children across the spectrum of need including those with significant clinical issues, e.g. attachment disorders and experiences of abuse.

Referrers are advised to confirm that the person to whom they are making a referral to is suitably qualified.