Jola Martis has recently joined the team at ellenor as our Play Therapist and says that her work is key in helping children understand the difficult feelings they are experiencing – when they are thrown into a situation which is new and frightening.
She has come to us with ten years’ experience in hospice care including, more recently, running her own independent play therapy practice.
Play therapy is a key aspect of the care we offer at ellenor and it’s something which supports not only our young patients, but also their siblings and the children of our adult patients.
Jola not only works directly with children – but also supports the parents of children under our care, helping them to understand what their little one is going through and giving them tools to help them.
In addition, her role also includes going into schools to, for instance, support a child who has experienced the death of a brother or sister and giving the teachers advice as to how to talk about it with the child and their school friends.
The children Jola helps through play therapy are typically aged between three and 12 years old – an age when they communicate through play.
One of our young patients, ten-year-old Ciara Paczensky, has benefitted from play therapy. Ciara suffers witha rare, incurable, genetic condition called Epidermolosis Bullosa (EB) – a condition where the slightest bump or knock results in her skin blistering or completely shearing off.
“For Ciara, play therapy was a great way to help her deal with her issues and the constant pain she experiences, which would make her a little angry and upset at times,” says Grant, her Dad. “Play therapy helped her to understand and work through these emotions.”
Ciara’s older brother Jonathon also benefitted from play therapy at the time when he was starting school.
“We were concerned, as parents, that all the changes may be difficult for him – so an ellenor play therapist came to our home and, after a number of sessions, confirmed that he was a happy, settled boy,” says Grant. “It provided us with reassurance and peace of mind to know that he was not anxious or upset.”
Jola says that play therapy is really like counselling for children – it is not simply ‘playing’.
“People say to me ‘did I have a nice day playing’ – but there’s so much more to it than that,” says Jola. “The only difference between adult counselling and play therapy is that children can’t necessarily verbalise how they are feeling in the same way that adults can.As a play therapist, the children you are working with have often experienced something traumatic – such as the death of a sibling or a parent – and play therapists help them to make sense of the feelings they are experiencing.”