Therapy sessions for children, adolescents and their parents are currently available at The Yellow Door, Rawdon on Thursdays with Dr Emily McGeown. They take place in a warm, inviting therapy room which contains a variety of play and art materials (suitable for both children and adolescents) to facilitate the child or young person’s expression of their thoughts and feelings. Many adolescents opt to just talk and the art/play materials are there if required.

Play therapy

Play is a child’s natural medium of self expression. Children can find it difficult to express themselves by talking directly about what is happening to them and how they are feeling. Imagery and metaphor are important in enabling children to understand and express these feelings.

During the sessions, Emily will create a safe, confidential and accepting environment which places as few limits as possible on the child, enabling them to express themselves in the way that suits them.Emily aims to build a trusting relationship with the child and to interact with them in their play, while containing and holding their feelings in order to help them make sense of their world.

Emily follows the child’s lead, giving the child the chance to explore the therapy room and the responsibility of choosing how to spend their time. At times Emily may be more directive.

CBT adapted for children and adolescents

CBT sessions with children and adolescents are in many ways similar to CBT sessions with adults, although the ideas are adapted to suit the child or young person’s understanding and developmental stage. Where appropriate, Emily will use simple and creative ways to explain the ideas to your child and to help them identify and work through their thoughts and feelings.


Emily has been trained in adapting EMDR for children and adolescents. EMDR is an effective way of working with children and young people affected by distressing events (please see ‘Trauma’ page for more information on EMDR).

How many sessions will my child need?

The number of sessions required depends very much on the problems your child is facing. Emily will work with you and your child to decide together how many sessions you think are necessary and progress will be reviewed at regular intervals. With children, it often takes a little longer to build up a therapeutic relationship (without which no meaningful work can take place).

Involving Parents in Therapy

If working 1-2-1 with a child, Emily usually also meets with the child’s parents for a number of sessions to consider with them how they might help their child. The child/young person may also be present at these sessions. If not, Emily will ensure that she seeks consent as to what can be shared in those sessions.

Parent-Child Relationship Therapy

The primary focus of Parent-Child Relationship Therapy (PCRT) is on enhancing and strengthening the parent-child relationship by equipping parents with basic child-centred play therapy skills that have proven to be necessary and effective dimensions in facilitating the development of positive relationships. It is based on the rationale that the relationship between parent and child is the essential and curative therapeutic dimension for improving and correcting children’s problems and preventing the development of future problems.

PCRT relies on the child’s natural means of communication – play – as the primary medium for communicating the child’s feelings, needs, wants, wishes, fantasies, experiences and thoughts. Toys are like words for children and play is their language. Children use toys to explore their experiences and express what they think and how they feel. Children are comfortable with the medium of play and can therefore more easily lead the play experience to focus on dimensions important to them.

Parents are taught to have 30-minute special playtimes with their child once a week.  In these special playtimes, children take the lead. The parent does not initiate topics of conversation, content of play, how the time will be spent, or offer solutions to problems.  Parents are taught that children’s play behaviour has meaning. Parents are taught to be sensitive to these possible meanings in play, although the playing out of these potentially significant messages is more important than the parent understanding its symbolic meaning.

Parents 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 special playtimes.

PCRT helps both the children and the parents. PCRT helps caregivers to gain a greater understanding and acceptance of their children. Caregivers learn to effectively communicate, regain control as a parent, help children develop self-control, and effectively discipline and set limits. They are taught basic child-centered play therapy principles and skills, including: reflective listening, recognizing and responding to children’s feelings, therapeutic limit setting, building children’s self-esteem, and how to structure weekly sessions with your children using specifically selected toys.  Caregivers will learn how to create a therapeutic environment that enhances the child-caregiver relationship. CPRT helps children to trust, learn boundaries, and accept limits.


Emily offers sessions based on the principles of Theraplay®.  This is a form of therapy for 0 – 12 year olds (although has also been used successfully with adolescents and adults).  Theraplay® is designed to enhance attachment, raise self-esteem, improve trust in others and create joyful engagement.  Theraplay® is based on the natural patterns of healthy interaction between parent and child, and is personal, physical and fun! Theraplay®  sessions create an active and empathic connection between the child and the parents, resulting in a changed view of the self as worthy and lovable and of relationships as positive and rewarding.

In contrast to PCRT, Theraplay sessions are directed by the adult. Activities for each play session are chosen in advance by the adults for caregiver and child to do together. These activities are specifically chosen to help the child according to their individual needs.

Theraplay® has also been shown to be helpful for children on the autistic spectrum and who exhibit ADHD-like behaviour.  Please contact Emily or Tracey (via contact form on our ‘contact page’, or please feel free to telephone) for more information on therapy based on Theraplay® principles.

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