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‘Messy play’. An evaluation of the therapeutic messy play of Looked After Children and their changing emotional needs

By January 1, 2014No Comments

This study aims to evaluate the therapeutic messy play of nine Looked After Children and Young People (LACYP); observed during their non-directive play therapy sessions.

Relationships between the children’s experiences in care and their messy play (observed during their play therapy invention), were explored retrospectively. This study focuses on the LACYP’s changing emotional needs: examination of the role of messy play within play therapy; and possible relationships with the child’s increased need for emotional containment.
The research methods used were:

  • Goodman’s Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQs).
  • Interviews with carers; teachers; social workers; and other professionals working with the LACYP.
  • Timelines comprising of information from: session notes; clinical supervision; and photographs.

The cohort consisted of primary school aged LACYP: from both genders; who lived in a foster or grandparent placement; were in placement with a sibling or without; had regular or irregular contact with their birth families; and attended both short term (under 20 sessions) and long term therapy (more than 20 sessions). The results of this study suggest a relationship between increased messy play and the LACYP’s contact with birth families and/or multiple stress factors.