Catherine offers creative and play therapy to children and adolescents. These are well established, evidence based, arts approaches that help children who are facing emotional difficulty, to work through their experiences and resolve the internal conflicts that may be causing problems with their behaviour and relationships in school, home and elsewhere.
During a therapy session, the child or young person is given the opportunity to listen to himself or herself and express the things that bother them; to work through their feelings by means of creative expression, just as an adult would talk about their feelings therapy. The therapist listens, watches and responds to the emotional content of the work so helping the client to recognize his or her own feelings. This is a time and space for the child or young person to communicate at their own level and pace using objects and creative materials without being told what to think and with out feeling threatened or overwhelmed by their feelings. It is a working-things-out space.
The cornerstone of Catherine’s approach is to form a safe and therapeutic relationship with both child and their primary care-giver(s), whilst honouring the child’s right to privacy. Catherine is also trained to offer Filial Therapy and Dyadic Developmental Parenting (DDP).
“It is in playing and only in playing that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.” D.W.Winnicot, Playing and reality
The mind and personality of a child or young person is in development. Whatever the complexity of their experience, they do not yet have the cognitive or verbal ability to use words in the way of adults; they commonly think in symbols. Because of this ‘immaturity’ it is difficult for them to sort out their experiences and a distressed child is likely to have considerable difficulty in explaining what they feel. They resort to communication through behavior and may ‘act-out’ with aggression and risk taking or withdraw and disconnect.
In a therapy session the choice of materials and toys and the creative work or play made unconsciously can reveal the concerns and preoccupations of the client. Focused empathic responding helps the child or young person feel listened to and increases emotional experiencing. When such feelings are contained within a therapy session they are increasingly safe to experience and process. Processing an emotion means allowing your self to experience the feelings with out fighting them off and to gain understanding into the causes of those emotions.
Muddled angry feelings can be risky to express to a parent because of the possibility of damaging these vital relationships. Messy emotions such as anger, rejection, shame, may be more safely expressed symbolically to outsider trained to read this communication. Expressing, understanding and processing our dark or hurt feelings with someone who recognizes your core intent, is soothing and provides the mental space to sort things out more deeply and learn to express our needs in a more constructive manner.
The foundation of my therapeutic approach is ‘child-centered’. My training provides an integrated arts approach in which pre verbal experiences are attended to and integrated using attachment, psychodynamic, systemic and humanistic theories. I use methods that work through attunement, symbolic thought and cognition. I apply knowledge of child development and an understanding of trauma and neglect. My work integrates most recent research into social biology and neurobiological processes.
A therapeutic intervention will probably start with a phone call during which you outline your concerns. We will have a conversation to establish some common understanding and you can consider whether to go forward. If you feel comfortable we will arrange the next step, which is an intake meeting. Fees will be charged for my time hereafter.
We will explore the reasons for your concern and your child and family history. You can ask any questions for example, about my approach, timescales, my training and evaluate whether you are ready to go ahead. You can visit the therapy room.
If you are ready to proceed, the intake forms can be started or you may wish to take them away and have more time to make your decision. We might decide to meet again and explore your child’s presenting concerns more deeply before you commit or I meet your child.
The next meeting will be with you and your child. We will meet in the play therapy room and the process and purpose of therapy will be described to your child. This will give them the chance to see me, the space, to understand how it works and understand that you support the therapy. They can let you know later how they feel about going ahead.
The first few sessions are an assessment process during which I will start to build an understanding of your child. The sessions run for 50 minutes on a weekly basis at the same time, for the same time, and in the same place. The face-to-face session represents about 50% of the work involved in a single therapy session.
A therapy intervention is offered initially over 12 weeks, which is about 1 term, with a review session every 6-weeks, roughly half termly. However, when a child or young person enters therapy this is may be after other interventions have been tried but with little success. We are then perhaps dealing with something a little more complicated and deep-seated that can take more time to unpack. Parents / primary care-giver(s), are significant to this work and we would therefore discuss and explore these complexities in our review sessions, which are described more fully below.
It is important to be aware that as your child explores their concerns in therapy, their behaviour can get worse before it gets better. It’s a bit like sorting your cupboards, as you unpack, things get more muddled and distress increases, but as your thoughts and feelings become clearer, a calmer place is reached.
In a review session we will explore the themes that are indicated in your child’s therapy and explore whether this in line with your knowledge and understanding of them. This work between us, you as parent / care-giver and me as therapist, is an important element of the work and good shared thinking greatly enhances progress. However, your child will be my client and I will be acting for them. This means that the content of their sessions is confidential and I will not share details unless there is a safeguarding necessity. In honour of this privacy, please do not ask your child ‘how did it go?’ when you pick them up from a session, as they may need time to process the feelings that have been stirred up.
Consistency is an essential element of therapeutic work as it helps structure and contains the relationship. Knowing how long a session will last, what is expected of you, and how to protect yourself from getting overwhelmed enhances emotionally safety and supports further steps toward self-understanding. Knowing when the session will end helps them manage the experience. These are some of the therapeutic boundaries that are central to ethical practice.
Ending therapy is a structured process during which personal growth is consolidated and the understanding of what it means to be in relationship becomes more concrete. Previous experiences of loss might be reactivated and this is an opportunity to learn ways of saying goodbye that sustain the positive aspects of a relationship.
If you do have concerns about the work, the communications or any other aspect of the therapy, I would encourage you to get in touch. We would step through an informal process and hopefully find a way to resolve the concerns. Further details are provided on the intake forms. Managing and resolving conflict is part of my training and an essential aspect of therapeutic work.
I am an experienced creative and play therapist and registered with the British Association of Play Therapists ( BAPT) and the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy ( BACP). I work within the guidelines of their ethical frameworks for good practice. I am committed to providing a well thought out, ethical and compassionate service to my clients and their families.
I have worked with children over the last 5 years in children’s centres, infant, junior, primary and secondary schools and currently see clients privately. You could take a look at some of my testimonials. I also work part time within the Community Mental Health Liaison Service (CMHLS) who are commissioned by the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) to provide an early intervention and prevention service to professionals working with children and young people.
My initial training was in the arts and I practiced as commercial designer before getting involved in mental health and well-being. In the late 1990’s, during and after my psychology degree, I worked in an occupational psychology practice running psychometric assessments for career guidance and offering consultations to adults and young people. I worked as a researcher into human behaviour in government departments and presented at conferences. I have volunteered with Victim Support visiting victims of crime, and NACRO where I offered guidance to young people at risk of offending. I worked on the mental health help line for Rethink and with the Mental Health Review Tribunal, which assesses the validity of detention under the Mental Health Act.
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Children and young people are referred to therapy for a whole range of emotional and behavioural problems. Catherine has worked with clients experiencing difficulties including:
I take referrals from therapists and counsellors, charities, agencies, directly from families, schools and adoption agencies. I am based in Brighton & Hove and have worked across Sussex. I have a therapy space for clients. I am available to work in schools, hospitals, doctor surgeries, specialist units, and private premises for which we can negotiate an additional cost for travel and set up.
My fees are by negotiation but start from:
Low cost work may be considered.
"Expectations more than fulfilled – almost miraculous. She still has progress to make but she is so much calmer, has a whole different approach to accepting, recognizing and addressing her feelings.”
“I have noticed great change in him and he is now communicating.”
"Thank you so much for your help and support. I am really happy. At that first time when I sat down and you asked him ‘what do you want to play with?’ and he looked in the box and took nothing out, I thought ‘this isn’t going to work and we’ve made a mistake in the type of therapy'. But it is so nice that through this play it has really helped him."
“I can share my worries and it has helped me a lot and it is sorted. I have changed how I think but I haven’t changed me”
“Yes, it has been very helpful. We have noticed a positive change in him. It has given us, as parents, more understanding too.”
"It is great to talk to somebody who gets him the way we get him"
"So if there has been an incident with the three of them, then he can easily go from a high to a low, but I have to say he is dealing with that a lot better.."
"Since coming to play therapy he has changed, he is calmer. He doesn’t say hello to lots and lots of people now, but he has 2 close friends who he talks to and spends time with."