Healing through play: therapeutic play facilitation takes place at Tweddle
A recent injection of funds, supported by the Collier Charitable Fund and the Phyllis Connor Memorial Trust have allowed Tweedle to embed therapeutic play facilitation at Tweddle via two pilot programs. Tweddle child and family health service offers a range of evidence-based supports to parents, babies and toddlers who are experiencing vulnerability in the Footscray area of Victoria.
Tweddle has a strong focus on the promotion of infant mental health and developing secure attachments, as well as advocating for the first 1,000 days, seeking to strengthen the skills and capacity of parents to care for their babies and toddlers.
Two play practitioners have been employed to work in groups and one-on-one with parents, babies and toddlers.
Practitioners support children and their families to experience play as the child’s first language. Through song, movement, talking, laughter, stillness, waiting, watching and wondering, their support helps families to understand the importance of play to babies’ development, attachment and infant mental health.
Using a play therapy model in the residential program at Tweddle supports parents to “get to know and love their children through play,” a spokesperson said.
“Through play, babies and toddlers learn that the world can be safe, consistent and predictable, to develop trust and that feelings (both positive and negative) are acceptable,” they added.
In addition, play provides an opportunity for children to ‘play out’ feelings and problems. When families experiencing adversity or mental health difficulties begin to play together, perceptions of each other change, communication improves, and individuals experience a decrease in resistance. Through laughter and play, endorphins are released and feelings of wellbeing emerge.
Play also allows children to learn how things work, how to use their bodies, how to solve problems and how to get along with others. Play is an avenue through which children can express their emotions, build relationships with others, and master difficult experiences.
Tweddle Assistant Director of Clinical Services, Research and Education Beverley Allen said it is “such a privilege” to be with a parent and their baby or toddler during play.
“Watching them sharing moments of joy and happiness in their play or music activity is like seeing a fine tuned dance,” Ms Allen explained.
“It is so lovely to know that these moments of shared play helps babies and toddlers brain growth. The role of the play practitioners has enhanced the support and facilitation of play opportunities for families whilst at Tweddle. The playroom and outside play areas are full of fun.”