The Apple Tree Centre and CPRT

Today we’re pleased to bring you a guest post from the newly launched Apple Tree Centre…

Logo - Text

We are Rosie and Jenny, two Play Therapists and mothers to small children. Just  this month, we launched The Apple Tree Centre in Sheffield.   As part of our work to  support children, young people and families, we are running Child Parent  Relationship training courses for parents and carers.

Child-Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT) is a structured training programme for  parents and carers.  Delivered by qualified and experienced Play Therapists, the  course introduces parents to the essential principles and skills used in Non-­Directive  Play Therapy, so that they can become “therapeutic agents” for their own children.  The training is usually provided to small groups of adults, in ten weekly sessions of  two hours each.  Additional individual support can be offered if this is needed.

Play is really important to children because it is the most natural way children learn,  process experiences and communicate their thoughts and feelings. Bearing this in  mind, we train parents and carers to conduct special 30­-minute playtimes with their  child in their own home, using a kit of carefully selected toys. The adults learn how to  respond empathically to their child’s feelings, build their child’s self-­esteem, help  their child learn self­-control and self-­responsibility, and set therapeutic limits during  these playtimes. For 30 minutes each week, the child is the absolute focus and the  adult creates an accepting atmosphere in which the child feels safe to express  themselves through their play.  This is not a ‘normal’ playtime. It is a special playtime  in which the adult follows the lead of the child.  Within this half hour, there is no  criticism of the child or the play, no praise, no questioning or instructions for the child  on what to do or how to do it, and no evaluation of the child’s behaviour or what he  or she has produced.

During these special playtimes, the parent/carer will build a different kind of relationship with their child, and the child will discover that they are capable, valid,
understood, and accepted just the way they are. When children play under these conditions,  they are free to explore their worries in the play and, in the process, release anxieties, stresses, and burdens. The child will then feel more positive about themselves and this will bring about significant differences in their behaviour. CPRT trains parents and carers  to focus on the child rather than the child’s problem, and
they will begin to react differently to their child both inside and outside of the special  playtime.

Co-founders Jenny Reid and Rosie Dymond at the launch of The Apple Tree Centre

Co-founders Jenny Reid and Rosie Dymond at the launch of The Apple Tree Centre

The course is delivered through a mixture of presentations, video clips, group  discussions, demonstration and skills practice, including discussion and debrief of  the play sessions carried out at home.
Parents are taught
● to identify and respond to their children’s feelings
● to use active and reflective listening skills
● to set effective limits, and
● to enhance their children’s self esteem.

CPRT is equally suited to enhancing already positive parent­-child relationships,  enabling parents to support their children through particularly difficult experiences,  and helping to build relationships which are new or have been damaged by ill health  or life events.  The system has proven effective in many different situations, including
● families with step parents and children
● foster and adoptive families
● parents who are imprisoned
● families affected by physical and mental illness
● children recovering from trauma and abuse.

CPRT was developed in the United States by Dr. Gary Landreth, from the University  of North Texas: a respected practitioner and teacher of Play Therapy. The  programme is relatively new to the UK. However, the principles on which it is based  have been used therapeutically since the 1960s, and the programme is constantly  adapted to ensure that it is equally appropriate for parents, carers and families in  Britain. We are really excited to be able to offer the training here in Sheffield, and  look forward to contributing to the evaluation of  its effectiveness here in the UK.

If you’d like more information about what we offer, please look at our website: 

Life on the Frontline – week 29


A weekly blog from a family made by adoption, warmed by the laughter, broken by the sadness, held together by love with a big dollop of hope, oh, and often soaked in mummy tears.

The week was always going to be a tough one so it was a great relief to cross the finishing line with everyone still intact. I was, rather unusually away for a couple of days at the start of the week. I’d planned my escape with military precision to ensure the children were well supported and that my husband had some help too. It was the hardest it has ever been to walk away, knowing that Tall was still a bit wobbly and I felt very anxious about the possible repercussions this could have on all of them.

However, although Tall had to come home from school on Tuesday and was then off school on Wednesday, they all managed very well. I was very happy to be reunited with Tall and Small on Wednesday evening but my husband had already left to be away for the following couple of days. So the back end of the week I was home alone with the boys.

Tall had complained of a tummy ache on Wednesday morning, I think dad felt it was a possible excuse to not go to school however twenty minutes after I walked through the door and he was vomiting. So that was him off school with me on Thursday.

He’d not coped well whilst I was away, as a stash of chargers for electrical devises, found under his bed revealed. So having a day at home with me was very much what he needed.

By Friday he was well enough to return to school and off he went quite happily, however Small was now complaining of a tummy ache so I kept him at home with me that day. That was our top up with mummy day.

So heading into the weekend everyone was feeling brighter and once daddy got home we felt happy to head into the weekend together.

On Sunday I cooked a roast dinner to share with some good friends. As I peeled potatoes I watched the brothers playing happily in the sunshine flooded garden. The seemed so very happy, Tall seemed to have shaken off the terrors of his previous week. I too felt very happy in that moment and I thought to myself, remember this moment, and store it up for those rainy day.

In Other News

Small had a sleep over at a friend’s house on Saturday. When I collected hi on Sunday it was lovely to hear “what a pleasant boy he is, a complete delight”.

Tall and I had a night in together of Saturday but his tummy was still not good so he spent a lot of it curled up on the sofa.

I took care of myself on Sunday when a wonderful friend and her family came over for lunch. We drank wine in the sunshine, quite a bit of wine which is why this post is a little late.

A sense of relief

As you probably know, we don’t usually post at the weekends, but we’ve had a special request from someone who wishes to write anonymously, but wants to link up to The Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO.

Things with my kids – challenges I mean, go up and down. But for the most part, they’ve been OK recently.
Things with my husband, well, now that’s a different story.

We’ve been happily married for a number of years, and we rarely argue, but that means that 100_2010when we do, it’s quite explosive because it’s the result of pent up feelings and emotions. All those little niggles get stored up, neatly deposited in a special box, waiting for the right moment to grow and change into ugly, spiteful, wretched negatives, ready to spew forth with vitriol.

That happened recently. And in front of our children I’m ashamed to say. Over something minor, but it turned into a huge horrid display, hours passing by with me and the children wondering if he was going to leave – which is what he’d promised.

No amount of pitiful begging from the children could make him agree to stay.
No amount of pitiful begging from me could make him agree to stay.
Almost a whole day was spent with us wondering (and not in a therapeutic Dan Hughes kinda way) whilst he made up his mind.

He stayed in the end. I’m not really sure why. I tried to talk to him, but he’s very much a closed book is my husband. He is difficult to read, even by me. He has difficulty verbalising his feelings – in fact, he’d say he doesn’t have any strong feelings about anything. That’s hard for me to live with, and hard for me to say, because now I’ve acknowledged it haven’t I?

Whenever we do argue, it always begins over one of the children, or our parenting, or his parenting, or how his work affects the children…always connected to the children. He says he’s a crap dad, that he can never parent them properly. He thinks he’s incapable of being therapeutic, and yes, I can see it’s hard for him because he lacks empathy. But, however he parents, the children love him and so do I. (And whether he says or shows it, I do know that he loves us all too).

When he said he was staying, it should have felt like a sense of relief.
He said he was staying, but it felt like there should have been a little bit more to the sentence. “This time” – that’s what’s missing, and that’s what has played on my mind ever since. What about “next time”?.

Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 114

Hello there – yes you, and to you at the back there too! Are you ready for the original adoption bloggers linky?

This week we’ve got a theme for you – ‘A Sense of Relief’. Do you ever get that? For me it’s the waso114first day back to school after half term/summer holidays etc, and it’s usually because them returning to school means we survived spending *that* much time together! What about you?

Our themes though are always optional, so if you don’t fancy writing about that, then just add your favourite or best post of the week. AND, you can even add more than one post if you’ve had a lot to say!

All welcome, add your link below…

With the Violence – What Actually Works?

Today our mum from Life on the Frontline is asking for your help.

A Problem Shared1

We seemed to have moved back into a time where Tall is being violent. We have been here before and managed to move away from it, however never fully and now the frequency with which violent episode occur is increasing.

He is violent toward myself and my husband by using aggressive language and actions. He’s also destructive to his surroundings, using objects and parts of furniture he has dismantled as weapons and missiles. We have asked for help on this matter for our Social Worker, who is very good but none comital on who to deal with it. She did give me some info on NVR which have read and I’m now hoping to book my husband and I on a course.

One of our biggest problems is that when I can see him going to this horrible place, I start to shake and I know he can see he has control of the situation. We do restrain him and hold him, to minimise damage and harm to himself and us but it is our own method we have devised, we have never been offered or received training.

My question is this, what has helped any other families in this situation. Be it therapy, courses, workshops, your own methods,anything. I’m so scared now he’s getting bigger that some one is going to get really hurt. 

Who is The Adoption Social for?


There has been a bit of confusion over on Twitter this week amongst our followers,We need you about who The Adoption Social is for. Some people have assumed that because they aren’t adoptive parents, that this site is not suitable or appropriate for them, and therefore they feel they can’t contribute.

We’d like to say a big Sorry if you’ve felt this way and if we’ve given you the impression that this site is exclusively for adoptive parents. It’s not!

The truth is, we are adoptive parents. We came together through a mutual love of blogging, and a desire to help link up those who blog about adoption. Thus The Weekly Adoption Shout Out was born. We’ve come such a long way since then, and The Adoption Social stands alone as a support site for those who don’t necessarily know the back story of how it came to be.

Our aim has always been that The Adoption Social is created and led by those in adoption and those experiencing and living with adoption in their lives. We therefore need you to write for us, contribute your experiences and knowledge so that we can pass that on to others and they in turn can support, understand and help you and many more.

Because of our own experiences and connections, most of the content on this site supports adoptive parents rather than anyone else within this world of adoption. That’s not because we don’t want posts from other people, or differing perspectives, we do, but they are harder to find. We do hope however, that what is published gives all sorts of people an insight into adoptive parenting and the needs of our (currently) young adoptees, and allows you to support others and gain support, even if it’s just knowing there’s someone else out there in a similar situation.

So whatever your position – adoptee, care-leaver, foster carer, adoptive parent, prospective adoptive parent, contact supervisor, birth parent, wider family from either birth family or adoptive, social worker, therapist, health visitor, special guardian, kinship carer, doctor, specialist, student or other interested party, we would be happy to have you featured on The Adoption Social, and invite you to guest post, write us a problem, share poetry, write a review or have a rant.
We also invite you to link your blog up to the Weekly Adoption Shout Out – so called because the links are about adoption related subjects, not just for adoptive parents.

If you really want to write for us but aren’t sure if your subject is right, then send us a copy at and we’ll have a look and remember that we are always happy for you to use a pseudonym or anonymise your post for you. 



The Adoption Social Times


Welcome to the latest edition of The Adoption Social Times, our monthly post where we can sing about all the things we’ve been up to, and give you a sneaky peek at some of the things that’ll be coming…

Weekly Adoption Shout Out
#WASO is still one of our most popular posts – every week it draws in many many views, and we can tell that people are linking through and reading your blogs, so keep ’em coming. We’ve not had any suggestions from you after our last Adoption Social Times, but the invitation is always there…come and let us know if you would like a particular theme.

For now, here’s a reminder of the theme for the end of this month, and forthcoming themes for May.
24 April – A sense of relief (change to our usual schedule)
8 May – Where I Walk – to help celebrate Get Walking Week
22 May – Child to Parent violence (CPV)

#WASO Top 3
So we’re back into the routine of publishing our Top 3 #WASO posts each month. If you haven’t come across this monthly post, then you won’t know that it’s where we each choose our Top 3 posts from all those linked up to #WASO in the previous month…now you know. We’ll try to give everyone a little shout out on Twitter too, so keep your eyes peeled for a notification featuring you!
In the meantime, here is the latest Top 3 post.

Call for contributions
Thanks to those who have responded to our recent Twitter calls for guest posts. To clarify, we welcome guest posts from adoptive parents, adoptees, foster carers, prospective adoptive parents, care leavers, birth families, extended adoptive families, professionals and anyone who has an interest in adoption, or supporting adoptive parents and adoptees.

Contributions should be typically between 500-1000 words, and can be sent to us at If you have an accompanying photo/picture to which you own the copyright then we’d welcome that, if not, we can provide an image if needs be.
The pages on which we mostly take contributions are ‘The Blog’ – an open platform for informative posts, emotional pieces, rants, topical opinion pieces and poetry; ‘The Review’ – a space for book/programme/movie/training/game reviews and ‘A Problem Shared’ – where we invite our readers to respond with advice or information.

All guest posts can either be in your name, with a pseudonym or anonymous completely. And we are happy to include links to your blog or website within the post.

#taspic – our new monthly photo challenge
We launched our latest photo challenge this week for all of you shutterbugs. We recognise the importance of hidden identity, and how anonymity is important for many of you – and us too. So we’ve kicked off with #feeties (obviously only anonymous if your feet are normal…don’t post if you have 16 toes because that might compromise identity). A popular theme on Instagram and a more anonymous take on #selfies, it’s a fun way of getting involved with the community, and connecting with each other on another social media outlet. So dust off your cameras, and shoe us your #feeties!

Heel free to join in as much or as little as you want, use the #taspic on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and feel free to add other hashtags toe – #feetie, #fromwhereistand and even #takingcare

Here are a  few of the #feeties that we’ve already seen…
Reviewers information
So, a bit delayed but we’ve finally been in touch with those who expressed an interest in becoming reviewers at #TakingCare in October.
If you signed up, but haven’t heard from us, please do drop us a line.

If you weren’t at #TakingCare but would like to be considered as a reviewer (free books!!!!) then please email us with your name, address and connection to adoption, and we’ll get in touch shortly. Our email address is

Meeting Up
As some of you know, Sarah and I live in completely different parts of the country. Although most of what we do can take place online via Twitter, email, the website, and Facebook, as well as a whole host of other online tools, we speak regularly on the phone too. However, sometimes it’s just much easier to get together in real life, not only for Adoption Social stuff, but as friends and just for a hug from someone who ‘knows’. So this week we’re meeting up and will be making plans for The Adoption Social, which after initial chats sound really interesting. We’ll feed back as soon as we have firm news.

And finally, posts you might have missed:

Did you see this post about getting back into the real world? Perhaps you’ve got some advice?

Our recent support, training and therapy glossary has proved popular.

The conclusion from our survey on ASD and adoption is available here. Thanks to those who completed the questionnaire.

Life on the Frontline – week 28


A weekly blog from a family made by adoption, warmed by the laughter, broken by the sadness, held together by love with a big dollop of hope, oh, and often soaked in mummy tears.

I was very proud of Small on Monday. With his brother on an inset day, I really feared we wouldn’t get him to school. The PRU were also on an inset day so I sold it as “wow, aren’t you lucky, you’ve only got school in the morning. Isn’t that brilliant.” Not only did he go but he went with very little fuss or moaning. So we had a very easy and gentle return to school.

Tall went in on Tuesday, starting a little later than everyone else, so that he could check in with Student Support and they could check in with him and make sure he was up to it. He also went easily and with both in school,with little fuss, it all seemed a little bit too straightforward. It was almost a little bit unnerving.

Weirdly the rest of the week went off the same. Small even got himself dressed one morning and on the one morning when he did refuse to go, we still managed to get him there on time. Tall had to use his exit card twice in one day and was close to being sent home but he was able to pull it back. So I’ve had no phone calls and no children at home all week. My life has felt a little bit normal for once.

However, I should really know that there is no such thing as an easy week.

On Friday night Tall had one of his worst ever violent outbursts. They are becoming increasingly terrifying.  It came from almost nowhere, but once there he was there for two hours. It sends us all into a complete spiral and as we try our hardest to keep a grip on our sanity, the job of keeping him and us safe is torturous. He dismantles furniture to use as missiles and implements of destruction. He laughs as he rams holes into his bedroom wall and tells us he wants social services to take him back so he can have a new family. Apparently us adopting him has ruined his life.

He finally exhausted himself and collapsed into a heap of wailing tears, horrified now by his own behaviour. I held him, soothed him and watched as his eyes closed and he was lost to the safety of sleep. As he drifted off he spoke these breathy words “please make sure you sleep tonight mum”

Remarkably we’ve recovered really well. Dad found it tough this time, as he spent most of the two hours with Tall. He was kicked, punched, bitten and spat at. For him it wasn’t easy to just put it behind us. However we’ve managed to take care of each other and move forward.

I never thought I’d be grateful for Simon Cowell but as we all sat around laughing loudly at Britain’s Got Talent on Saturday, it felt like we were back. Never underestimate the resilience of an adoptive family.


In Other News

Small had his mock SAT scores. Fours and Fives are not bad for a boy who hasn’t been in school that much.

Tall has English tutor who is just great. He really looks forward to him coming and loves the hour they spend together. Plus his spelling is really improving.

I’ve been exercising lots, running and helping a friend prepare for her exams in becoming an aerobics instructor. Feels good.

Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 113

Hey there, how’s your week been? Some of you may have enjoyed the relative peace as the children have returned to school, for others, perhaps this return to school has sparked some challenges? For others of you, that first day of the new term is still looming – good luck!Waso 113Now, some of you may have remembered that we were going to have a special week on The Adoption Social, therefore this #WASO was going to have a special theme. However, our plans have had to change, and so this week will in fact just be a normal Weekly Adoption Shout Out – our next themed #WASO will be 24th April, and will be ‘A sense of relief’.

Now remember, be the supportive bunch we know you are, comment as much as you can, share the bloggy love and link up below…

Getting back into the real world

Today, we have an anonymous post. This mum really needs your help…A Problem Shared1

For so long, I’ve felt isolated. Parenting my two challenging boys is tough, and I’ve locked myself away, too scared to take them out and feel the judging eyes, worried about their behaviour in public, unable to control them and stand up to them.

I’ve found solace in online sources, and I know I’m not alone. But I recently attended a course and met another adopter in the same situation. She lives quite close to me, and I could tell that she was feeling a bit like me – desperate for real human interaction with someone other than her son.

We exchanged details and although I want to meet up and talk, with or without our children, I just can’t bring myself to make that call, and I’m not sure I’m brave enough to actually meet with her and her son after spending so long trapped by my sons. I know I need to, for my sanity and to help the kids socialise, and to set an example for them too.

Has anyone else felt like this? How do I make the first step?

I’m sure quite a few of us have felt like this at times – had our confidence knocked, our ability to socialise waning, and our (sometimes) self-imposed isolation feeling too oppressive. If you’ve found a way out, then how? Please share your thoughts and advice here.