Counselling by Nicola Stewart

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Counselling Children

When working with Primary & Secondary School aged children I will use an ‘Integrative’ approach with influences from Play Therapy, Sand Tray Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Person Centred Therapy and psycho-education around emotional regulation.  As an 'Integrative' therapist I can adapt my therapy plan to be responsive to the needs and developmental age of your child.


Play involves using creativity and metaphor within our sessions.  Being playful is vital to every child’s social, emotional, cognitive, physical, creative and language development. It helps enable emotional expression for all children and young people including those for whom verbal communication may be difficult.


During our creative sessions I will introduce some psycho-education on feelings and emotions along with reflection on where these are experienced within (interoception).  This sense enables children to learn their triggers for difficult feelings; with this awareness comes an ability to self-soothe using coping strategies we work on together in sessions.  This approach is proven to increase:


  • Emotional awareness

  • Self confidence

  • Self worth


My own approach Affect Awareness Therapy has been developed over my 14 years working as a school counsellor. This approach acknowledges the value of Axline's (1969) principles which form the basis of a strong working alliance. The therapeutic relationship is developed using play, story and metaphor within our sessions, this enables emotional expression, affect regulation, sensory integration, all of which will have a calming effect on the body and mind, especially with children who have experienced early traumatic events. The theoretical underpinning of this work relates largely to attachment theory and the person-centred way of working.

Play therapy

Non-directive Play Therapy is a counselling approach used to help children communicate their inner experiences through the use of toys and play.


Non-directive play therapy is based on a set of principles laid down by Axline (1969)


The therapist:    

  • Must develop 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/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.

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