New Play Therapy MSc in Scotland

By Georgina Ruth, Child Therapist at WithKids

WithKids has been providing Play Therapy for children, and support to families since 2008. They currently work with over 300 children each year in the east end of Glasgow, the south west of Edinburgh, and West Lothian, which have some of the highest levels of poverty in Scotland and the UK. The WithKids therapeutic model of work is child-centred and non-directive.

To help support the child within their family setting, WithKids also uses community workers. They work alongside the parents, helping to effect change at home, building links within their neighbourhood and providing practical signposting. WithKids believe in respecting and valuing the uniqueness and diversity of each child’s personality, family circumstance and social structure, and thus work accordingly to each child’s need.

They believe that play is the best way to understand the emotional life of a child. Play Therapy helps children understand muddled feelings and upsetting events. Rather than having to explain what is troubling them, children use play to communicate at their own level and pace – without feeling interrogated or threatened.

As well as the growing number of referrals coming from the partner schools and nurseries, there is an increasing request for therapeutic services coming from schools and other services outside of the areas the charity is located in. This appears to show an indication of the recognition, and demand for Play Therapy as a way to help support children.

For WithKids this has meant they have had to create waiting lists for the areas they do work in, or refer onto other services. For areas outside of their remit they have had to signpost to other therapeutic services. It was through this demand for therapeutic services that WithKids saw a need for a Play Therapy MSc in Scotland. The hope is that through the Play Therapy MSc, there will be Play Therapists to meet the demand for the work that is out there currently.

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Non-directive, child centred Play Therapy has children’s rights at its core. Throughout the training, emphasis is placed on respect for the child, and his or her inner resources. This is the starting point of the therapeutic relationship. The child’s right to be free to express himself, and for that communication to be heard and accepted is fundamental to the further development of the trusting therapeutic relationship.

The child’s right to play is acknowledged throughout this course as a developmental need which is essential for healthy social, emotional and cognitive development. That play is a child’s natural means of communication is a central tenant of Play Therapy which recognises the significance and centrality of play to children. Play Therapists respect the child’s right to a private life, offering confidentiality unless the child is at risk of harm. Play Therapists advocate on behalf of children, to ensure that their rights to safety, protection and best standards of living are being upheld.

In collaboration with Queen Margaret University, and in the process of being accredited by the British Association of Play Therapists, the Scottish registered charity WithKids will be delivering a part time Masters level qualification in Play Therapy. The course begins in September 2016, at the WithKids clinic in Glasgow and will run from 2pm to 9pm one day per week.

This course, when completed, allows the student to register as a Play Therapist providing non directive, childcentred, psychodynamic Play Therapy for children in a variety of settings in the statutory, voluntary and private sector. The course includes Play Therapy Theory and Practice, Infant and Child Observation, Child and Adolescent Development, Research Methods and a Clinical Project. As part of the training all students must undertake personal therapy. Applicants must have a degree of considerable experience of working with children.

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For further information on WithKids, see www.withkids.org.uk or to request a Play Therapy MSc application pack contact training@withkids.org.uk

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