The Principles of Play Therapy

Child-centred play therapy is based on the principles of Virginia Axline

All services provided in play therapy follow the Axline principles:

  • Develops a warm and friendly relationship with the child
  • Accepts the child as she or he is
  • Establishes a feeling of permission in the relationship so that the child feels free to express his or her feelings completely
  • Is alert to recognise the feelings the child is expressing and reflects these feelings back in such a manner that the child gains insight into his or her behaviour
  • Maintains a deep respect for the child’s ability to solve his/her problems and gives the child the opportunity to do so. The responsibility to make choices and to institute change is the child’s
  • Does not attempt to direct the child’s actions or conversations in any manner. The child leads the way, the therapist follows
  • Does not hurry the therapy along. It is a gradual process and must be recognised as such by the therapist
  • Only establishes those limitations necessary to anchor the therapy to the world of reality and to make the child aware of his/her responsibility in the relationship

Who can play therapy help?

Research has found Play Therapy to be an effective therapeutic approach for a variety of children’s difficulties including:

  • Abuse and neglect
  • ADHD and ADD
  • Adjusting to family changes
  • Aggression and acting out behaviours
  • Autism (other than severe autism)
  • Bonding and Attachment
  • Bullying (victim and bullies)
  • Chronic illness/hospitalisation/surgery
  • Confidence and self-esteem
  • Excessive anger, fear, sadness, worry and shyness
  • Foster, adoption and identity issues
  • Grief and loss
  • Making friends
  • Near death experiences
  • Physical symptoms without any medical cause, such as soiling
  • Physical disabilities
  • Prenatal and birth trauma
  • School difficulties
  • Selective mutism
  • Separation anxiety
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Sleeping and eating difficulties
  • Social adjustment issues
  • Trauma


Referrals will be accepted from parents (or carers), GP’s, teachers, social workers and other professionals.