Wendy Sawyer – BAPT accredited child play therapist
Hi, my name’s Wendy Sawyer, a fully qualified and accredited child play therapist, serving the areas of Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire & Middlesex, including Watford, Hemel Hempstead, Ruislip and Pinner.
Whether you’re an education or health organisation, parent or carer, your main priority will be to ensure that you find a play therapist that both yourself and the child/children receiving therapy will be comfortable with.
Here’s a bit of background so that you can get to know me a little before we first chat or meet – if you have any other questions, please feel free to call me on 0330 9000 080.
Why did I become a play therapist?
I was first inspired to help children when I was 13 years old. I read a book called ‘Tiger’s Child’ by Torey Hayden, and was instantly hooked on her work.
I was in awe of her ability to connect with children in need, and support them through some of the most horrific experiences, and soon decided then that I wanted to follow in her footsteps. If I could help one child the way that Torey Hayden had, then I’d have achieved something very important!
Education and career history
I studied childcare at GCSE then went on to secure a BA Honours degree in Early Childhood Studies at Worcester University. While studying, I also gained firsthand experience through working in a variety of day nurseries and child care settings.
Upon graduation I worked at a training centre for teenagers who had struggled during school years. I planned and implemented the NVQ Level 2 PLP course – the theory based aspect of the NVQ. It provided students with the opportunity to increase their knowledge of working with and caring for young children, including child development, child protection and play.
During their time on the course, the students undertook placements in local nurseries and pre-schools, where I’d visit them at least once a month to discuss their progress with the nursery manager. I also offered support and advice, and set targets for the next review. Once the student had completed the PLP, I continued working with the NVQ team to ensure the students received the opportunity to complete the full NVQ.
After a while, I was lucky to be offered the job I’d really been waiting for: a Child Care Worker in a residential children’s home. The children living in the home had all suffered traumas early in their lives and were no longer able to live with their families. My role was to ensure that their day to day care needs were met, and to help them understand and process their experiences.
My confidence in the role steadily grew, but I realised that something was missing – a skill I wasn’t yet able to offer the children. When the residential unit developed into a therapeutic outreach service, enabling us to offer more intense and focused support and services, I decided to train as a play therapist.
Accredited by the British Association of Play Therapists
In September 2009, I started studying an MA in Play Therapy at the University of Roehampton, where I was trained to deliver non-directive, child-centred play therapy. The course is accredited by the British Association of Play Therapists (BAPT), of which I’m now a full member.
During my three-year training, I completed my ‘practical hours’ at two different settings in order to maximise my experiences. These were the Children’s Centre in Luton, and my place of work – a therapeutic outreach service in Hertfordshire.
Whilst in both of my placements I gained experience working with children who had suffered from a range of difficulties, including:
• Attachment difficulties
• Sexual abuse
• Physical abuse
• Emotional abuse
• School refusal
• Domestic violence
• Low self-esteem
• Difficulties in forming friendships
• Children with alcohol and drug dependent parents
My training and in-work experience has given me the ability to work closely and effectively with parents, foster carers, teachers, social workers and a variety of other professionals. While I was still undertaking my training, I attended weekly supervision sessions with a qualified play therapist to ensure I was offering the most valuable support possible.
In order to provide a more thorough and flexible service, I’m also trained in story stem assessments and analysis, and filial play therapy.