Grove House hospice helps children cope through play

CHILDREN are being helped to come to terms with bereavement and life threatening-illness through play therapy at Grove House.

Freelance social worker and play therapist Maureen Scott-Nash has worked with Grove House for more than 12 years and runs a play therapy clinic at the hospice on Wednesday mornings.

Play therapy is a form of counselling for children that uses play to provide an opportunity for the child to express painful and traumatic experiences in a secure and healing therapeutic space.

Maureen, who has many years of experience working with children and their families, explained: “My role is to create a safe and trusting relationship with the child that enables them to express deeply-held emotions around the loss and change in their lives.

“To experience a life-threatening illness and/or the bereavement of a beloved parent or close family member can be traumatic for a child. Frequently they feel overwhelmed by these events and experience a mixture of confusing and stressful emotions. Many feel unable to find the words to express feelings of grief, sadness and fear.

“Play is the language of the child and in play therapy I provide an eclectic mix of art, drama, music, story making, narrative, sand and clay to enable them to explore, enact and share their emotions around these distressing events. Exploring their worries and fears through the safety of play enables the child to begin a journey of understaning, accepting and managing their pain and grief.”

Play therapy is just one of eight specialist free services offered by Grove House, and is available for children from the ages of four to 11 who have experienced the loss of a close family member or whose parent or close relative is undergoing treatment at the hospice. It can also be of great benefit to children with cancer or a life-threatening illness and are finding the journey though their condition a hard one to make.

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One of the youngsters to benefit from the treatment is Jamie, who was just nine years old when he was diagnosed with leukaemia. He found the very invasive treatment difficult to deal with and was particularly upset when his school friends taunted him when his hair began to fall out as a result of the chemotherapy. Jamie was referred to Maureen, and within weeks he became more accepting of the treatment and his illness, his self-esteem returned and he learnt how to cope with the taunts at school and he managed to overcome his fear of needles.