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.
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.
Play therapist working with the Cardiff Family Wellbeing Service
* names have been changed.