The Importance of Cake

I spent much of last Sunday preparing to make gluten-free cakes for our first CPD training event. My kitchen has never been so clean before.

I made a joke to my partner about focusing all my anxiety on this detail, but when he agreed too whole-heartedly, I realised how important this was to me. The cake, and the accompanying cleaning of the kitchen, are more than just an irrelevant detail, a magic spell to make the training a success. They represent important qualities in my work as a therapist, and in the Apple Tree Centre.

small cake

Mapping Therapy

Several of my clients have recently made comments which seem to lead back to the same big questions: What do I know about them, and how do I understand what’s happening in counselling?

As a child, I lived and breathed Arthur Ransome’s “Swallows and Amazons” books. I loved the idea of setting out with a pile of sketched maps, a pencil and a bottle of ink, to explore uncharted waters.

Secretwater1

Creating Therapeutic Space

Photograph of a bird on one of the wall stickers at  The Apple Tree Centre

We had a big project on our hands. We needed to transform an adult psychotherapy centre, painted in dark rich, (and at times womb-like) tones into a therapy and wellbeing centre for children and young people. We felt ourselves lighten emotionally as we painstakingly covered the dark walls with pale paint, took down the heavy curtains, let the light in…

Understanding Elephants

The process of play therapy can be very hard to explain in a way which has any meaning for people who haven’t experienced it. Often, though, those people ask great questions which go to the roots of what play therapy is about and how it works. I’d like to use this blog, among other things, to answer some of those questions.

So, today’s question (from a medical student): “Do you ever worry that you don’t know what a child’s play is about?”

Imagine that a child is using their therapy session to make a story about an elephant. Making a story can happen in lots of ways: they might be drawing a picture (and describing it, or not), or moving figures around in the sand tray, or putting on a puppet show, or pretending to be the elephant, or telling me to play the elephant, or just talking: “my friend Elliot, the Elephant, he said…”.

Elephants