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Materials TrayPlay Matters

I was trained as a Non Directive Play Practitioner by the now defunct Children's Hours Trust.whch was based upon the Philosophy and work of Dr Rachael Pinney. The work of the trust remains influential with a number of training bodies and organisations. I am a founding member of The Play Team which continues this work, is based in West Sussex UK and has several affiliates and members from far and wide. Practitioners are CRB checked, insured and are subject to experienced and qualified supervision.

The Work of
Non Directive Play is distinct from Play Therapy in that we have not received the same length and depth of training. That said we have a common tradition or belief that Play matters and has an important function for working out our fundamental selves whether as children or as adults. Creative listening remains at the core of the work of a Play Practitioner. If we do not overlay our interpretations of the activity and act as a faithful witness to what is happening we confirm acceptance and value. By allowing the space for the unheard and unprocessed we allow those parts of ourselves to be felt, accepted and explored in safety, which is vital for healthy growth particularly in children. Play does not need to be nice or tidy after all life is none of these. The Practitioner reflects back what is happening without judgment. Words or phrases which say 'that's nice' are not used because we understand that these really express a distance from what is happening and suggest an unease with a process which conveys complex processes and emotions. This work is particularly valuable with children with a disturbed history or troubling present to navigate.


Another example of sand tray workPractice.
The work can take place in a variety of settings. I have practiced as a Non Directive Play Practitioner in a number of Junior and infant schools as well as using the strategies with people in their third age. The sessions normally last an hour working one to one and are referred to as 'Special Time'.

Below is a typical description of work undertaken, by me, with a particular child. For evident reasons the identity of the individual has not been disclosed.

Work with a Sand Tray. September 2006.
A girl of 7 years of age whose mother has died of cancer. Has a much older sister of 26 and lives with father.
Work with Non-Directive Play had been going on for four terms.
The First Term.
The girl used miniatures and animals, a cow and a calf position at one end of the tray. She used an ambulance which she drove in the air, it landed in the sand tray and drove to the cow and calf. She put the Cow in saying 'now the calf is left all alone.' The ambulance drove off. And now left all alone she concluded.
This story was repeated every week in the first few minutes of the play session.
Then came a change. Fences were erected round the calf after the ambulance left and pigs and chicks are added to the tray.
One session contained a photographer.
One session showed the fences down and the calf muddled up with the other animals. (At this time her father remarried someone with children from another marriage.)
The next session showed a foal in a nest; 'new baby doing well now ... had a tea party'.
The final session was a special, special times as the girl invited another boy into her session. The boy said to her ; 'My daddy died and your mummy died and that's why we have been having special time. To which she replied ; 'special - if my mummy's died and your daddy's died , then we can get married. You can have the lion because you are the king of the jungle'. He replied 'then you are the queen of the jungle' ... gives rabbit to her.

Last Notes.
If you are a school,parent, organisation or just an interested individual and would like to find out more about this important work please access the contact details linked at the top of this page. Further details on applying can be found here

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