10Whole School ApproachBefore a school-based programme, such as Nana's, can be implemented, careful consideration must be given to how the programme will fit into the school's culture. Educating the educators is a priority so that school personnel can understand how mental health services relate to a child's successful education and the therapeutic value of play. An important aspect of Nana's mission, as well as that of anyone modelling this programme, is in making presentations to not only the Local Education Agencies (LEAs) in charge of homeless education for the State, but also to District Administrators, Boards, Principals, designated liaisons, teachers and staff. While respecting the need to maintain confidentiality, the play therapists within Nana's Model assess children in the playroom, so when the Individual Education Plan for each student is put together, the Nana's Clinicians participate in the meeting and make recommendations as to how best to serve the educational/emotional needs of the student. This further reflects the effectiveness of the whole school approach, whereby all relevant stakeholders work together, combining the various areas of expertise, in the interest of the child. By law, School Districts must only allow evidenced based counselling programs in their schools to take place. From the outset, Nana's have conducted studies, supporting the efficacy of the programme. While it can be challenging conducting scientific research with a treatment group, control group and a group that received other type of counselling by non- play therapists (such as anger management) large amounts of clinical records/art production and tapes sessions have been collated. A longitudinal study where Boxall Profile outcomes of Nana's clients administered in different settings (classroom, lunch room, play room, play yard) were collated. Details are available in 'The effectiveness of child-centred play therapy on developmental and diagnostic factors in children who are homeless', Baggerly J. & Jenkins, W. (2009).TrainingIn order to train as a Play Therapist, a minimum of a Masters Degree in Counselling, Psychology or Social Work along with 2000 hours of supervision (including 50 by a registered play therapist) are required. Currently, there are in the region of 5000 registered play therapists in the US, with Associations for Play Therapy in Canada, Mexico, Argentina and Japan. PrimaryPlay Therapy - A Proven Support continuedNCGE NEWS Winter 2011
11Case Study - JoeyPrimaryPlay Therapy - A Proven Support continuedNCGE NEWS Winter 2011At age 9, a little girl Joey, in grade 4, was referred to the playroom by the school psychologist, and by her mother Suzy. Her referral was due to learning disabilities and her lack of speaking in school. According to her mother, Joey was quite vocal at home. In all the years she had spent at the school, she had been placed in Special Education Class, and received weekly visits from the District's speech pathologists, without any noticeable improvement. As soon as she was accepted into Nana's program, tests were administered to assess learning disabilities and speech impediments. Although her scores were on the low side, Joey suffered from 'selective mutism', whereby she would elect when to speak, and when to remain silent. Currently it is well understood that this condition has nothing to do with speech impediments, or voluntary withholding of verbal communication. It is a social phobia. The more the person is asked to speak, the higher the anxiety level, and the least likely that they will be able to do it In Joey's case, once a diagnosis ruled out any physical or mental difficulties, a treatment plan was developed for individual weekly play therapy sessions to address her social phobia and anxiety.In total, Joey participated in 29 individual PT sessions. Once Joey became familiar with the playroom environment, she started exploring and experimenting. Some milestones occurred in three specific sessions: In session 6, Joey made eye contact with the play therapist and attempted to interact. In session 15, Joey attempted to speak for the first time, but quickly changed her mind. Although Joey played silently at first, the therapists would reflect and make comments on her activity, and label the feelings that were perceived, such as fear, frustration, anger or happiness. As the sessions progressed Joey started to speak, at first in whispers, and later in a normal tone. In session 22, Joey spoke audibly for the first time in the group. This was a huge achievement, raising Joey's confidence, self-esteem and her ability to mix with teachers and peers. Today, Joey is no longer in therapy and attends Junior High School. Recent reports are that she is able to speak, and is doing well in class.