Paul was referred for Play Therapy due to concerns around his interactions with adults, severe lack of confidence and extreme shyness at school. Staff reported that he would only whisper to adults in school and would never ask or answer questions in class unless directly prompted by an adult. He would often find himself unable to speak to adults at all, even when spoken to directly. Many mornings he would refuse to enter the school building and would become very distressed in the playground with his mother. He would often complain of stomach aches and other illnesses in order to stay off school.
It took a long time for Paul to engage with the therapy and to trust in the therapeutic relationship. He remained silent in the first few sessions and would only respond in a whisper when asked a direct question. As the sessions progressed he started to engage more. He began by using the sand tray to explore human relationships using animals. There would often be a more powerful, larger animal attacking a smaller, weaker one. As these sessions went on, the weaker animal would start to fight back. Paul was starting to explore his inner world and the weakness and fear he so often felt. He started to realise that he did have power and confidence and he was in control of this.
The ‘Sometimes I Feel’ cards became a very useful tool on Paul’s journey. At one point he chose a card depicting a small boy fighting a dragon. When the therapist wondered why he had chosen that card he said “not shy”. The therapist then explored how Paul felt he was perceived and worked on strategies to help him appear less shy to others.
Thanks to this work Paul is now much more confident in class and is able to ask and answer questions without being asked. In one of the final sessions Paul said to the therapist:
“When we first met I hated coming to school. Now I love it!”
“I have noticed a huge change in him. He will now ask and answer questions in our group and is so much more confident.” (Paul’s teacher)
“He now likes coming into school in the morning. There are no more tears.” (Paul’s mother)