Play & Other Therapies

Play therapy and other therapies for children and families

Play Therapy

Play Therapy uses a variety of play and creative arts techniques to alleviate chronic, mild and moderate psychological and emotional conditions in children that are exhibiting behavioural problems and finding it difficult to realise their potential. Play therapy may be non-directive (where the child decides what to do in a session) or directive (where the therapist leads the way) or a mixture of the two.

Methods and approaches used may include: drawing and painting; creating their world in a sand tray; clay; puppets; music - the children don't have to have artistic or musical skills (If your child is on medication, for example for ADHD, then it does not prevent them receiving play therapy support). Children very often can't or don't want to talk about their problems. Indeed talking accounts for less than 15% of the time, on average, during the sessions. Play therapy is particularly effective with children who cannot, or do not want to talk about their problems.


A case study about play therapy
This short study gives a clear idea of what the process of play therapy looks like and refers to theraplay and filial play at the end and there are references to follow up.

Register of play therapists

It is important that any therapist you use is suitably qualified and accredited. For a list see

Also see which is the linked Irish site.



Filial therapy

Filial play, based on the principles of play being led by the child, can be a helpful way of resolving attachment problems and improving parent/child relationships. It involves a coaching programme for parents, usually of about 10 one-hour sessions, and a commitment to play with your child at home for at least 10 minutes a day for at least 5 days a week. This schedule can vary depending on assessed needs.

Useful websites


‘Strengthening parent-child relationships through play: filial therapy’

Register of therapists 



Creative arts therapies: art, drama, dance/movement/music

Creative arts therapy is the planned and creative use of art, dance movement, drama or music to accomplish individualised clinical goals with adults, children and groups. The sessions are not like art classes or recreational, but provide a non-threatening, verbal and non-verbal, indirect means of expression whereby the person can explore difficult feelings in the safe, non-judgmental environment provided by the therapist. These therapies can be beneficial in working with many issues including anger management, addiction/eating disorders, bereavement/loss, self-esteem, trauma, etc.

Useful websites

Irish Association of Creative Arts Therapists


This Psychology Today article gives an overview of some of the creative arts therapies:

Register of therapists has a register of therapists, all of whom have undergone extensive training. You can also download a brochure from this website.



VIDEO A series of short videos in which play therapists demonstrate some of the approaches used in play therapy with children