What is Play and Creative Arts Therapy?

Play and Creative Arts Therapy helps children explore their feelings, express themselves and make sense of their life experiences in a safe and trusting environment. 

Play is children's natural medium to learn, communicate and explore their worlds and is essential for children to develop physically, emotionally and socially. It fosters imagination and creativity and encourages confidence and concentration. It helps children make friends and learn about their ever-expanding world. It allows them to learn from mistakes safely.
Very few children have real freedom to play without constraint. Play and Creative Arts Therapy allow a child complete freedom of choice within safe boundaries.  

"Play and Creative Arts Therapy
is Non-Judgmental, Non-Directive and


The Play and Creative Arts Therapy approach is predominantly based upon the theories of Virginia Axline which postulate that children are able, from a very early age, to make choices and take responsibilities in line with their age and ability. If this ability is fostered, the child becomes happier, more fulfilled and confident. A happy child is better able to grow and accept the reasonable authority of those in charge of him or her and to take initiative. 

Conventional talking therapies may be inappropriate for children and young people who struggle to put their feelings into words.
Play and Creative Arts Therapy allows children the opportunity to explore and understand these feelings. It can enable them to shift their perspective of difficulty so they are less likely to internalise blame. The resulting empowerment and increased self-esteem can be the springboard to help the child to cope with difficulties in the real world.

    Play and Creative Arts Therapy focuses on the use of the following resources which each allow a different form of expression:

    "One in five children have a psychological problem.
    are helped
    by Creative Arts

    • Art & Crafts – freedom to use creativity
    • Clay – connecting with feelings
    • Masks – internal and external feelings
    • Sandplay – emotional outlet, relationships, turn-taking
    • Puppets – communication and caring for self
    • Dance – enabling freedom of movement
    • Musical Instruments – exploring, turn-taking, improvising
    • Role Play – helps with social relationships
    • Therapeutic Stories – healing

    Who can benefit from Play and Creative Arts Therapy?

    Play and Creative Arts Therapy is an effective intervention for children with a variety of presenting problems.
    Depression - Phobias - Anxiety - Third Culture Kids' Issues
    Grief - Illness - Family Change - Behavioural
    Difficulties - 
    Social Isolation

    Is your child not reaching its potential due to:

    • Finding it difficult to concentrate or learn?
    • Has nightmares or disturbed sleep?
    • Being at risk of being or has been excluded from school?
    • Has suffered trauma?
    • Has suffered emotional, physical, or other abuse?
    • Is adopted or fostered?
    • Suffering because of separated/divorced parents?
    • Suffering from anxiety, stress, or phobias?
    • Suffering from a loss or bereavement?
    • Being withdrawn or continually unhappy?
    • Having autistic tendencies?
    • Being ill or disabled?
    • Finding it difficult to make friends?
    • Quarreling frequently with peers or siblings?
    • Bullying others or is bullied themselves?
    • Displaying inappropriate behaviour?
    • Doesn't play?


    What can Play and Creative Arts Therapy do for your child?

    • Develop self-esteem.
    • Encourage greater social awareness.
    • Explore spacial boundaries.
    • Become more responsible for behaviours and develop more successful strategies.
    • Develop new and creative solutions to problems.
    • Develop respect and acceptance of self and others.
    • Learn to experience and express emotion.
    • Cultivate empathy and respect for thoughts and feelings of others.
    • Earn new social skills and relational skills with family.


    What is the difference between Play and Creative Arts Therapy and traditional therapy?

    Adults in psychotherapy are working to find solutions and “fix” themselves after the fact.
    A child, however, comes into therapy with a mostly clean slate, making our work together in therapy much easier. 

    Children generally don't have to reprogram, undo or fix unhealthy habits. Although children who have been through inordinate amounts of stress will have some fixing to do, the majority of our work will be focused on building your child’s very self and creating self-respect.
    Play and Creative Arts Therapy gives your child the glorious opportunity to get it right the first time, to forge a healthy emotional foundation that will last a lifetime. That is why progress for adults in therapy is measured in years whereas for children it is measured in months. It’s much easier to start out fresh and create a new personality than to undo decades of emotional damage.

    In addition, therapy in this setting serves to tackle your child’s problems and can prevent issues from developing into full-blown emotional disorders later in life. What requires 5 years of psychotherapy as an adult may take 2 years as a teenager and 6 months of treatment as a child. 

    Why is the therapeutic relationship so important?

    The therapeutic relationship that develops between your child and Dr. Madeleine Vieira is very important. Your child must feel comfortable, safe and understood.
    This type of trusting environment makes it easier for the child to express his/her thoughts and feelings and to use the therapy in a useful way.
    It is also crucial that your child knows you are supporting the process.


    "Our greatest natural resource is
    the minds of our children."
    - Walt Disney


    How long does Play and Creative Arts Therapy last?

    Some children will respond to a short-term intervention, for example up to 12 sessions. However, when problems have persisted for a long time or are complicated, a longer-term intervention may be required. 

    Sessions are 45 minutes and take place once weekly. Consistency of a set day, time and place is very important in the process. Unplanned missed sessions may disrupt progress.

    What happens in Play and Creative Arts Therapy sessions?

    At the referral stage, Dr. Madeleine Vieira will begin by engaging with the parents and establish a treatment plan. Good communication is essential if the intervention is to be supported and meaningful.

    Play and Creative Arts Therapy offers a confidential space in which personal issues can safely be explored and each session follows a similar structure. Dr. Madeleine Vieira helps your child to make sense of his or her life experiences and to express difficult feelings through the metaphors of play.

    As sessions progress, your child will learn to develop strategies of how to deal with situations in the real world more appropriately.



      “Through Play and Creative Arts Therapy my 5 year old daughter has gained self-awareness in various areas and is now able to play nicely with her peers and siblings. Dr. Vieira has been a tremendous help and I would like to recommend her services to any family with a child in need of gentle encouragement."
      - Parent of Katie, 5, Knightsbridge, London - UK

      “My 6 year old son has benefitted tremendously from Dr. Vieira's Play and Creative Arts Therapy services. He's now much more confident in social settings, looks forward to going to school and has made some new friends.”
      - Parent of Joshua, 6, Los Angeles, CA - USA

      "Our 8 year old son struggled a lot with the changes affected by our divorce. I am grateful that Dr. Vieira was there for him through this period as he's now in a much better place. I can't thank her enough!" 
      - Parent of Matthew, 8, Chelsea, London - UK