Hand in Hand are delighted to be able to offer Play Therapy through our in-house play therapist Denise Gordon in our Cancer Support Centre in Loughrea, County Galway. Play Therapy is available through Hand in Hand for families throughout Ireland affected by childhood cancer. This new service is available for children affected by childhood cancer, either their own diagnosis, or the diagnosis of an immediate family member. Children use play to communicate, and play therapy assists them to express and work through their feelings.

What is Play Therapy?

Play therapy allows a child time, and space to play out and express their feelings through their most natural method of communication; play. Sessions, by appointment only, are 40 minutes long and are non-directive and non- investigative in nature, whereby the child leads the session and the therapist follows. The new playroom within our centre holds the play therapy ‘tool kit’ which includes sand, clay, puppets, role play, art materials, therapeutic stories, creative visualisations and music/movement.

The aim is that when the child feels comfortable they will begin to express the negative or difficult emotions through their play, the therapist is able to track and observe what is happening and gently guide the child when necessary.  The therapist provides the space which allows the child to play as they need to with as few limits as possible but as many as necessary (for physical and emotional safety). All play therapy sessions are confidential, details of the sessions shall only be disclosed in line with child protection procedures.

How do families avail of Hand in Hand’s services?

Typically, families are referred to Hand in Hand by medical and social care staff at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin. All Hand in Hand services are free of charge to families throughout the Republic of Ireland with a child undergoing cancer treatment. Families are always welcome to contact the Charity directly with enquiries on setting up services. Contact Jennifer Carpenter, the service manager by emailing jennifer@handinhand.ie or call 091 880 360.

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