Fremantle Play Therapist Helping Kids Work Through Feelings

Donna Berry. Picture: Jon Hewson           d439150
Donna Berry. Picture: Jon Hewson         d439150

ADULTS are able to talk to others about the issues they face in their lives, but it can sometimes be a lot harder to understand how a child is feeling.

That is where play therapy comes in. Play therapy is a form of counselling that can help children from as young as two who are going through emotional, psychological, development or behavioural issues.

Donna Berry was a social worker spending almost every day with children and families when she started thinking there was a piece of the puzzle missing when it came to interacting with the children.

Now the owner of the Fremantle-based Institute of Play Therapy, Ms Berry said a child’s early experiences, especially the negative ones, shaped their world.

“If these early experiences have not been positive, or the child has suffered trauma, they need help to resolve and understand their story,” she said.

“Without this, children will grow into adults with a trauma history which can impact on all areas of their lives.

“Up to the age of 12, children can often not cognitively explain their story let alone make sense of their feelings, which is why a directive approach does not work.”

She said the methods used in this form of counselling were gentle, ethical and allowed the child to lead. “Play therapy’s core principles allow you to see the child and enter their world, believing in the child’s own capacity for healing, self-discovery and growth,” she said.

“During this time the therapist is privileged to be accepted by the child to enter their world, with play their language and the toys their words.

“Because of this I felt it was necessary to establish an early intervention service for children and families which would not only provide therapy services using developmentally and age- appropriate therapy, but also offer services that will enhance the child’s world and their relationship within, working within a systemic framework.”