Case Study 1



















Bassendean Office: 11 Kenny Street Bassendean

Fees: Private & funded: NDIS clients only

How do I know my child needs counselling?

*Your child may experience conflict with their family, teachers or peers or difficulty with their work at school.

*Children with anxiety issues avoid certain situations and may demonstrate behaviour which is hypervigilant.

*Your child may demonstrate changes in their behaviour such as regular and intense outburst of anger or significant fluctuations in their emotions.

*Unresolved trauma issues can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

What is play therapy?

Play therapy is the term used to describe a child`s expression of their thoughts, emotions and personal experiences through play with a therapist. During play therapy the therapist shares with the child their observations of their experience by mirroring it through play. Play therapy is the most suitable counselling intervention for children under the age of seven.

What is expressive therapy?

Expressive therapy is the term used to describe the personal expression of one`s thoughts, emotions and experiences through art, sand tray, music and drama therapy. NO EXPEREINCE OR SKILL IS REQUIRED.


Case Study: Ellie

Child age: 10

Issues: Ellie`s mother contacted the therapist because she was concerned that her daughter was having difficulty dealing with the fact that her mother had been diagnosed with cancer. Ellie`s mother informed the therapist that her daughter`s behaviour had changed, she had become argumentative, teary and was experiencing issues at school. Ellie`s mother informed the therapist that some time ago she had separated from her partner and wondered if this was contributing to Ellie`s personal issues.

Intervention: Expressive therapy involving art therapy, i.e. drawing, painting and sand tray, also music therapy and narrative therapy (traditional counselling).


During the initial assessment with the therapist Ellie created a drawing of her family home and the people in her life who important to her. The artwork depicted Ellie engaging in various activities with each of the family members. The therapist asked Ellie to do a drawing which contained colours and shapes which represented her thoughts and feelings when she spent time with these people. With the support of the therapist Ellie learnt that the colour blue and red represented her mood when she was around her mother. That she was often sad when she was around her mother because of reoccurring thoughts that her mother`s cancer may get worse and she may die. Ellie stated that the colour red represented how scary her worrying thoughts could be at times. When the therapist supported Ellie to examine the thoughts at the core of these worrying thoughts it was learnt that Ellie believed that she was responsible for taking care of her mother since her father had left the family home. Ellie maintained that the worrying thoughts sometimes made her also feel angry at her father who was not there to take care of her mother. Furthermore, Ellie shared that a range of different colours in her drawing represented feelings such as confusion and helplessness. As treatment progressed Ellie began to express her feelings about her parent`s separation through sand tray and music therapy. Ellie created a story in the sand tray using objects which depicted her thoughts and feelings which was later accompanied by sounds made on the music instruments. This experience enabled Ellie to start to understand that her anxiety was related to a traumatic incident she witnessed when her mother was very ill and recovering from treatment and the fact that she felt in some way responsible for her parent`s separation.


After four sessions Ellie was able to understand the main thoughts and feelings which caused her concern. The strategies that she was given by her therapist enabled her to process and resolve the distress she felt about her mother`s diagnosis of cancer and unresolved issues concerning her parent`s separation. By session six Ellie reported to the therapist that her worrying thoughts had ceased and she was finding it easier to do her work at school. Furthermore, Ellie`s mother informed her therapist that Ellie was no longer teary or argumentative at home. On completion of counselling Ellie had learnt many strategies she could use in the future to self soothe such as listening to music and telling her stories on her own through drawing.