Jodie, supported by Barnardo's smiles at her support worker

Jodie's story

When 11-year-old Jodie* was attacked by a group of other children and left traumatised, it wasn’t just she who received support from Barnardo’s but her younger sister who had witnessed the incident and their mother too. 

That whole-family approach is key to the work of Cardiff’s Family Wellbeing Service which provides a wide range of support for mental health and wellbeing, from play therapy for children to workshops for parents. 

Mum Heather* noticed a big change in her children’s behaviour following the attack. Jodie and her younger sister sometimes appeared angry when they were out in public and away from the security of home, when in fact they were demonstrating how anxious and frightened they were. 

Ffion* had previously suffered from anxiety, that escalated and her self-harming increased as she worried about the safety of herself and her sister. The family were referred to Barnardo’s and both girls had play therapy to help them explore their feelings. Their mum was able to join workshops to give her the skills to help her daughters’ anxieties long term. 

Barnardo’s have really helped the whole family. My daughters are less angry, much happier, and I have learnt skills which are going to help me to support them for the rest of their childhoods. 
If we ever went to the park or out for a meal after the attack, they would be ready to lash out to protect themselves. The play therapy gave them time to think about their feelings and process them. They are so different now and I have learnt techniques to help them any time something makes them anxious.


Mother of Jodie and Ffion

Kirsty is a play therapist working with the Cardiff Family Wellbeing Service and supports children who have suffered a wide range of trauma including bereavement, neglect, domestic abuse and sexual abuse as well as general anxiety and emotional problems. 

She said: “A child who has been through trauma may not have the language to communicate their experiences and emotions in words, but their feelings can come out naturally through play. Play therapy is child-led and can help them explore what they have been through in a way that’s comfortable for them. They can learn to problem solve and develop coping strategies. 

It makes me very happy to see the changes in a child who had been really struggling to cope and know that Barnardo’s has made a difference.


Play therapist working with the Cardiff Family Wellbeing Service

* names have been changed.

A young girl talks to a woman wearing a Barnardo's lanyard

Mental health services for children and young people

No child should be left to deal with poor mental health alone. That’s why we offer a range of mental health support services for children, young people, and their families.

A young girl draws smiling next to an older woman

Supporting your child's mental health

Whether you’re a parent, carer, or guardian we’re here to help. Find expert advice and tips, as well as a summary of the mental health support we offer. 

A young man smiles sitting on a park bench next to text saying "my mental health"

Are you a young person? 

Everyone has mental health and sometimes you can struggle with how you feel. You’re not alone and help is available. Get support and advice about your mental health or find a service near you.