On 19th June Alison Chown gave TAP members an informative talk about Play Therapy in the Outdoors to accompany her book on the subject. Alison works with children aged 3-16 who have complex behavioural, emotional and social difficulties. She spoke about her path to taking the children outdoors for play therapy, the ethical struggles in the early days and the benefits to the children when they use the outdoor spaces.
Outdoor Play Therapy and the Forest School principals are very closely aligned. Sue Jennings devised the development 'Embodiment - Projection - Role' or EPR Paradigm: Embodiment – which is is the physical sensory aspect for the child, where they develop their 'body-self'; Projection – which is where the child responds to things outside of their body and make them have a personal meaning; and Role play. These are all used in outdoor play therapy where development may have been interrupted or damaged by the child’s early experiences.
Working outdoors draws on the Reggio Emilia Approach when the outdoor space becomes the third teacher, with the adult as mentor/guide and the children using their different languages to make sense of the world. Children have a huge capacity for physicality; to keep them confined within four walls is not always conducive to effective therapy. The therapist needs to hold symbolic walls in the outdoor space. The child needs to learn about risk without anxious adult interference.
Alison left us with a quote:
'There are two gifts we should give our children, one is roots, the other is wings'.
TAP’s next talk is on 18th September when Maria Byrne speaks about The Journey of the Prisoner. The talk will start at 7.45pm at Taunton United Reform Church, Paul Street. All welcome.