Reece's play therapy story
For some young people, expressing difficult emotions can be a real challenge. So much so, it can disrupt all other aspects of life. But with play therapy, students learn to put those feelings into words and develop ways of coping. We’ve seen young people go from strength to strength through play therapy. Here is Reece’s story.
Like many of our students, Reece began his education in mainstream school. But in year four, he started to struggle with his learning. Feeling unable to cope with classroom activities, Reece began to avoid school, eventually refusing to attend. These anxieties developed to the point where Reece had to move schools. Unfortunately, his anxiety continued to grow and Reece developed Tourette’s syndrome. Once again, he tried to cope by avoiding school altogether. But this meant he was missing out on all the learning and opportunities that school can offer. His mum knew there had to be another way for Reece.
After being out of school for two years, Reece’s mum discovered Ashcroft services. When she visited us, she instantly knew it would be the right environment for Reece and his emotional needs. The local authority initially declined his referral, but after his mum made an appeal, Reece won his place and joined our Nurture Group at Ashcroft. The Nurture Group is a warm, welcoming environment for students in key stages one to three. Here students build their skills and learn how to deal with challenges confidently and calmly. It was just the kind of environment Reece needed to build up his confidence.
Gaining the tools to heal
When he first joined Ashcroft’s nurture group, our team referred Reece to play therapy. Play therapy is a self-healing process which helps children express their feelings and develop ways to cope with strong emotions. In the sessions, students explore the play therapy toolkit, which includes things like sand, instruments and art materials. It can also involve storytelling, acting, and dance.
Once Reece felt comfortable with his play therapist, Sandy, he began to feel more relaxed. He was then able to express his thoughts, feelings, and emotions using the play toolkit. Reece was making great progress until his grandad sadly passed away. Losing his grandad had a big impact on Reece, disrupting his ability to manage his anxieties once more. But this was just a temporary setback. Reece returned to school and was able to use play therapy to work through his feelings around his grandad’s death. Play therapy meant he felt supported and able to cope with the difficult emotions he was experiencing.
Growing towards a happy, fulfilled future
Reece worked with Sandy in play therapy for a year, all the time improving his overall sense of self-worth. Now Reece is able to get through the school day on his own and manage his anxieties. His behaviour has improved and he’s been able to develop new friendships at school.
After showing enthusiasm in his guitar lessons, Reece was asked to take part in Together Fest, an annual talent event organised by the school. Performing on stage was a huge accomplishment for Reece, and shows how much his confidence has grown.
For his mum, Jackie, play therapy has helped Reece become the person he always wanted to be
With thanks to Reece and his family for sharing their story with us.
Some names may have been changed
If your child is struggling to cope in a mainstream setting, don’t lose hope. At Ashcroft, we believe every child deserves to thrive. And we do everything we can to help make that happen.
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