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                                     David Smyth, Person-Centred Therapist


Children and Young People

"Don't limit a child to your own learning, for he

was born in another time." - Rabbinical Saying

Children and young people can benefit from counselling therapy. In the same way that adults use speech as their primary means of communication within a therapeutic relationship, so children are more likely to prefer play to communicate with the therapist.

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A child's age and emotional development are important factors in deciding their preferred method of communication. Children - up to the age of 5 or 6 - may choose to connect with me solely through play. Older children may use play while they talk. In this way, an older child may use play materials to help them express their feelings and thoughts. In other words, while focusing on a practical task, a child may feel more relaxed to talk.

This broadly describes how children and younger people - in my experience - may use play/activity in a therapeutic setting. There are no firm rules: older children may elect to use play to recreate earlier life experiences and, of course, adults can also make use of play materials for their personal exploration.

I have a wide range of play and activity materials including, art paper, pens, felt tips, charcoal, pastels, good quality paints, clay etc. Construction kits are available and periodically updated. Puppets and toys have a wide range of uses, far more than the average adult mind might imagine. Sand tray activities offer powerful yet 'safe' experiences for children and adults to address, often deeply held feelings about themselves. Story telling is a personal favourite and I may write a story for a specific child that offers an opportunity for emotional healing and development.


Reaching early teenage years, select play or other activity materials for one session and, at another, choose to talk. Older teenagers are likely to use the therapy session in a similar way to adult clients.

More detailed information about my work with children and younger people can be found by downloading my article HERE.

"Be gentle with the young." - Juvenal 55AD - 127AD