Therapeutic arts and play

Everybody experiences difficult times during their lives which can be challenging even for adults to manage. Our thoughts, feelings and memories can fly around our minds and stop us from making the most of our lives. We might find ourselves distracted or irritable all of the time and unable to hold onto the big, sad or scary feelings. Or sometimes we might fill our lives so full, to help us tightly control our emotions, that we can’t relax for fear they’ll catch up with us. We might feel that these things are our fault and that nobody can possibly understand, or that sharing these experiences might make everything worse.

Children naturally use play, artwork and metaphor to explore and share their feelings and experiences. Arts-based therapies work alongside this intuitive language, incorporating a number of creative activities, these are based around the preference of each individual but might include:

  • Painting and drawing
  • Sand tray
  • Play-doh and other model making
  • Drama and roleplay
  • Dance and music
  • Masks
  • Puppets
  • Story telling or poetry
  • Play or other imaginative work

Miss Petrina Gray has been working with St John’s Church School since Easter 2014. Her integrative training in the therapeutic arts and child and adolescent psychotherapy incorporates a range of art therapy techniques with up-to-date research in child-development and neuroscience, along with counselling methods and psychological theory. By incorporating these the aim is to build safe relationships with children, from which they are able to explore the memories, thoughts and feelings which can be so difficult, painful, sad and frightening. Sometimes conversation is used, but more often their spontaneous imaginative work is the focus and provides access to their inner worlds in a less direct and threatening, but still powerful, transformative and healing way.