Today we’re pleased to bring you a guest post from the newly launched Apple Tree Centre…
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.
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: www.appletreecentre.co.uk