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Clinical Supervision for Play Therapists


What is play therapy?


Play therapy helps children explore their feelings and express themselves in a safe therapeutic environment. They can be supported to make sense of their life experience through symbolic, sensory and creative play. 


The main principles of play therapy:


  • child directed

  • non-judgemental

  • accepting of the child

  • has simple, clear boundaries

  • takes place within the child's world of play, in an environment that is a quiet, safe and confidential space


Play therapy can support the development and emotional well-being of the child. It helps develop:


  • confidence

  • self-esteem

  • resilience

  • concentration

  • attention skills

  • personal and social skills

  • communication skills

Why use play?

The role of play in therapy and supervision ranges, through a number of levels of the continuum, from enjoyment and self-development using pure play at one end to acting as an adjunct to talking therapies at the other end. One way of defining the objectives of therapy where mental health and emotional state is involved in the level of the client’s functioning. Whilst offering play as a means of therapy in both therapy and supervision the therapists needs to look at the severity of the condition/s that play is intended to alleviate as a starting point when setting up the therapeutic alliance. Play can be used to support self-exploration and healing in many situations. However, the therapist needs to consider:

  • Degree of Condition

  • Impact

  • Slight

  • Hospitalization for a minor operation.

  • Temporary impairment of well-being; minor loss of functioning. 

  • Mild

  • Relationship issues: friendships, sibling rivalries.

  • Some loss of well-being, ongoing impairment of functioning preventing the child from reaching their full potential.

  • Moderate

  • Stress and trauma.

  • The child feels emotionally unwell, has considerable impairment of functioning, problems need to be dealt with promptly to prevent further deterioration.

  • Severe

  • Repeated physical and sexual abuse from one or more sources.

  • Mental illness or disorder; a child at risk and unable to function as a normal person.

  • If conditions at any level are not treated and resolved with appropriate intervention then they may progress to a higher level.  


This attribute indicates the type of intervention, if any, used to achieve the objective. Some interventions are therapeutic, others are not. This attribute also leads to consideration of the nature of activities that are required.   

Description of Role and Provider

In these definitions, it is assumed that there is a provider of care of some kind to provide, supervise or mediate the play activities. In the vast majority of cases, this will be an adult but in some cases, it could be another, normally older, child. This attribute helps to distinguish the level of skill required for the different applications of play.  


Age range

This attribute is useful to separate some applications from others. The emotional age of the child, rather than the actual age, should be used.   


Application of Psychological Theories

One of the most important distinguishing points is the amount of knowledge that is needed of the informing psychological theories.   


Clinical Supervision

The more that interventions use psychologically based techniques the greater the necessity for clinical supervision to make the client and therapy practice safe.   



A further distinguishing factor is the environment in which play is used. Is it, for example, a clinical or non-clinical environment?   



The environment together with the type of intervention will determine the safety considerations - physical, emotional, psychological.   


Play Content

Another consideration is the extent to which play is used in the application. This may range from 100% where play is the sole activity to perhaps less than 5% where play is used as an adjunct to another type of therapy or activity.  


Quality Management

In any application where play is administered there is a need for some form of quality management which may range from simple basic monitoring to quite complex clinical governance procedures and systems.   


Code of Ethics

Where any professional worker is involved with children observance of an ethical framework or code of ethics is essential. My work is within the framework provided by several different organisations depending on the nature of the work. For example any of my movement play therapy is supported by my memebership and high level of accreditation that I hold within The Sherborne Developmental Play International Organisation, Talking therapies and an eclectic mix of creative integrative therapies lies within the BACP, for play therapy my alliagiance is to the PTUK. 


Degree of Training

All of the above factors, when considered for a particular application of play, give a good indication of the degree and type of training required. Look on page that describes me and my work for information about my accreditation. My work in this field is supported by Honours Degree, Masters Degree, a Doctorate, Post Doctoral Studies and regular continuing professional studies in related fields. All my therapy is supported by a high level of professional clinical supervision. 


Looking for a Supervisor to support your therapeutic practice as a Play Therapy? 


When you start your placement on your course and indeed once you become a Play Therapist clinical supervision is an essential part of working therapeutically with clients (adults and children). Clinical supervision is very different from line management supervision. In clinical supervision, the purpose is for the supervisor to help the supervisee become more effective in helping clients, for example in play therapy, the children. The Clinical Supervisor provides support and advice upon issues that arise during the therapist's clinical work. This may include therapeutic techniques, therapeutic relationships, difficult problems, ethical decisions where the therapeutic process impacts personally upon the therapist.




PTUK's standards of supervision 


PTUK's standards of supervision requirements are:

Trainees - one hour of supervision for every six hours of clinical work with children.Qualified practitioners - a minimum of one and a half hours supervision a month.




What Is Supervision?


Supervision has two main functions:

  1. Educative

  2. Supportive.




  • To provide a regular space for the supervisee to reflect upon the content and process of the work

  • To develop understanding and skills within the work

  • To help relate theory to practice

  • To enable the supervisee to apply their approach appropriately to children at different developmental stages

  • To have an opportunity to think and develop ideas



  • To be validated both as a person and a therapist

  • To plan and utilize the personal and professional resources of the supervisee

  • To give constructive positive and critical feedback

  • To offer a space to reflect and clarify what is evoked by the work and explore our reactions to this experience

  • To ensure that the work is done in such a way that the supervisor can be accountable for the monitoring and quality of the work being done with the children



Approved Supervisor


As an approved supervisor I have not done the APAC/PTUK accredited supervisor course, but may work with any members including trainees, who have taken, or are currently on, APAC/PTUK/PTI accredited play therapy courses. I have extensive experience working with children as an educational consultant focusing on well-being and the social, emotional and personal aspects of the curriculum alongside my work as a movement therapist and integrative counsellor. 


The first thing we will do together is to set up a clear contract for our supervisory relationship, stating the length of contract, responsibilities and fees.




In Play Therapy supervision, the use of Skype for supervision is only allowed by prior approval of the CEO once all other options have been tried and may not be used with Certificate or diploma course students. There is a strict protocol which must be adhered to. Whilst I do offer Skype supervision, it is the therapist's responsibility to seek approval from PTUK.




Individual supervision per hour:  


organizations- £60

Working individuals - £55

students and people with concessions - £50


Group supervision - up to six supervisees

organizations- £150 for 1.5 hours

Working individual spaces - £55

students and people with concessions spaces - £50





You will find me on the PTUK supervisors list




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