The Best Inventions are from Happy Accidents

In January 2021, I created POP Play Sessions. It was a happy accident really of sharing in supervision how I was supporting my clients while we were on our third lockdown and some of the schools I worked in were not allowing me in yet. As I described what I was doing and my supervisor asked me more and more questions, she reflected that what I was offering my clients was very different to others and sounded really amazing! Don’t they always say, that the best inventions are from happy accidents?

PTUK, at that time, had given a directive to only do 20 minute catch-up sessions online and during the first lockdown I had experimented a little with what support I could give online to some of the children I had been working with. During that period I had discovered some of the limitations and also the safety issues of working online and the inability to provide a confidential environment for a child at home online. Working with just the child, while they were at home, just wasn’t great. A catch-up felt like it was going to give a bit of holding space but was not utilising the Power of Play that I love! I wanted to offer my clients more than that.

Due to having very little work in the lockdown of Spring 2020, I was however able to start planning for post-lockdown projects that I had been lucky enough to gain a grant for.  Most specifically, a family club which would utilise many of the tools I had learnt in my Filial Play Coaching training and also my love for bringing families together and creating memories that didn’t cost anything. Some families, it was clear to me from my Play Therapy work, just needed a little inspiration and to learn new games to create more of these memories together. This awareness, coupled with the knowledge that my target audience are living in poverty (according to the UK governments definition of relative poverty), meant the POP Family Club was specifically created with the need for very little resourcing.

As the chances of being able to deliver the club face-to-face looked doubtful, I embarked on delivering it online and had great fun doing this with small groups of families over the summer and autumn period of 2020. The feedback was amazing and the families who joined in really loved it! Returning back each week! I knew I had created a good formula which worked and I also gained an insight into what didn’t work well.

POP Family Club Screenshot
Feedback from POP families

So when instructed to offer something online for only 20 minutes, I knew exactly what would work, although with a fair amount of adaptation! I was so grateful that I had already accumulated a set of games from scouring books and ideas I had picked up from teaching, kids church and youth groups as well as the Filial Play Coaching training. It just fell together and I wondered if I should share my creation with others but wasn’t sure of the best way to do so.

The format is very simple. A short check-in, like ‘thumbs up , down or in the middle, How are you feel right now?’. Followed by three short games, modelled by and sometimes including the Play Therapist, but many just between the parent and child. And a quick grounding good bye. Simple, fun and engaging!

For the training, I didn’t just want to give a handout- as I had learnt so much along the way and didn’t want anyone to waste their time relearning the same things.  So I decided it would need to be some kind of course. I also knew that if I want to learn something, then I need to learn it through experience and I know that I am not the only one. The training needed to be interactive with opportunities to play! As well as opportunities to observe the games in action.

I bravely put the course together and sent it out into the world of Facebook in February to see what might come back. To my delight an amazing group of 8 Play Therapists signed up to adventure with me and see if it was the right thing for them too. Some just studied at their own pace quietly but most joined me for a weekly Zoom to explore the games.

The feedback I gathered along the way, was brilliant. They were so supportive and I worked hard to package everything in a way that I knew I would want to receive it. They really loved the look and feel of the course (I have to admit to enjoying designing the sheets, PowerPoints and example videos a bit too much).

Example of materials
Example of a video from the POP Play Session Facilitator course

Feedback from a participant:

Thanks Mim for your enthusiasm, attention to detail and professional presentation. I love the activity sheets.

This course was engaging, fun and well-presented with videos, tips and plenty of activities that can be adapted for younger and older children. The families I have used it with have loved it.

Since lockdowns have eased (in the UK), I have been able to use it with quite a few different scenarios that I hadn’t realised would also benefit from POP Play Sessions when first created. Children who have completed their Play Therapy, but I felt they needed something to engage and reconnect with their parents.  I have delivered them to a family who couldn’t come due to a parent breaking their leg and transport was an issue for a while.  I also delivered them to families who were isolating due to their school bubbles bursting.

I received this text recently after a family who had spent the day getting Covid tests had a POP Play Session instead of a normal Play Therapy session:

“Thank you! Made us all feel better after the day we have had.”

Their scope is far reaching and now something I will actively also offer to families…so watch this space for another webpage devoted to POP Play Sessions soon!

If you’d like to have a POP Play Session for your family, do get in touch, as I’d love to deliver them

or If you’d like to join the course starting on 2nd August, sign-up here: https://coursecraft.net/c/becomeapopplaysessionsfacilitator

Become a POP Play Sessions Facilitator

2 thoughts on “The Best Inventions are from Happy Accidents”

  1. Becky Kearney

    Hi

    I’m interested in finding out how I can become a play therapist. I have worked in early years both in a nursery setting and in a school for the past 14 years and looking for a career change using the skills and qualifications I have or gaining new qualifications. I am very passionate about caring for children and their families and providing positive outcomes to their lives.

    Do you have any advice you can give me or even opportunities for work experience?

    Thank you for your help.

    1. Hi Becky,
      Thank you for your message. It is a wonderful job. I absolutely love it!

      I have had a number of enquiries about opportunities and I would love to support anyone in the local area with advice and support them in their training. I would highly recommend looking at BAPT/Roehampton Institue or PTUK/APAC for Play Therapy training that is accredited by Universities and work with the Professional Standards Authority (PSA). I chose to train through PTUK/APAC with Leeds Beckett University.

      Feel free to email for any more help or if you’d like to hear more. I am considering hosting a course you may be interested in ‘What is Play Therapy?’

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