Aspects of the Development and Use of Small Toys in Making Therapeutic Contact with Young Children
This was the
dissertation which I wrote in 1984 while attending the Special Needs Course in (as it was then) Jordanhill College of Education
It had involved eight hours of observation in Notre Dame Child Guidance Clinic,
the presentation of a sand tray and small toys to fifty children in three different settings; a nursery school, a primary
School and a special school and a discussion of the pioneering work of Hermione von Hug Hellmuth, Anna Freud, Melanie Klein
and Margaret Lowenfeld in developing the use of play with young children. Fifty photographs of the children's tray constructions,
with comments about the sessions during which they were produced, were provided in an appendix
In locating it for the first time after many years I enjoyed
reading some of the concluding remarks.
'A sand tray and toys will, of course,
now become an integral part of the environment in my work in a Child Guidance Unit. I have no doubt of the extent to which
this will be beneficial both for me and the children'
'As regards the
reading associated with this enquiry, and the opportunity to observe at Notre Dame Child Guidance Clinic, I feel my professional
perspective, knowledge and awareness has been changed, sharpened and deepened'
believe, like many before me, that given the appropriate materials and resources, children use them in their own special way
to work at, work through and resolve many of their own problems and difficulties'
'Piloting the use of the tray and toys in these environments, and developing situations in which they could be constructively
used in a therapeutic and beneficial way, will form a major part of my future investigation into the subject'
'If a little bit of the enthusiasm
I have for the potential of this material can be converted into more effective work with children, then more than the leaflet
which began this quest will have been miraculous'
'What I have achieved
so far is merely the placing of a toe in the water. It is my intention, if at all possible, to take a swim in the ocean'
Scottish Education Department: HM Inspectors of Schools Report of an Inspection in February 1987
Marjorie Browning was the Inspector who spent time in the room. She is the only person who has ever been alongside
me when I have been working with children and I considered it an honour. I had introduced the sand trays into my classroom
immediately after completing the Special Needs Course and returning to the D
I was officially allowed
to explore their usefulness for the children on the understanding that a boy who had been extremely unsettled over the preceding
months joined my group. That boy was the child I refer to in Balancing as 'David'. At the time this was
sort of classroom and sand tray room combined
The copy I have of the original report contains only a brief reference to
the room. It is
'The assessment of progress in the
play-therapy room was impressive. All activities were well documented, often by means of photographs, and these records were
used to help to identify, explain and deal with the underlying causes of pupils' difficulties of whatever kind.'
Notes from and Eepsy Room
This was my first attempt to write up the work which was
taking place in the Day Unit. I located the folder with the title on the outside but nothing inside. I am assuming it covered
most of the concepts which were to be expanded on later in two longer and more coherent documents. These are named below.
They were the forerunners of Balancing
Finding Out What's Already Known
Externalising the Unpleasurable; first steps towards a symbolic reconstruction
Yorkhill NHS Trust. Department of Child and Family Psychiatry
An Evaluation of Custtad
for the Strategic Planning Group February 1997
Before commenting on the Evaluation which took place in
Yorkhill, it should be noted that without the support of Andrew Dickson, the then Clinical Director, the door to the work
being taken on by the Department would never have been opened. Others were to play a significant role in its acceptance and
the move was undoubtedly assisted by the publication of the book Balancing the Request to be Good in 1995 - but he
was the one who made it happen. And without its implementation in that setting, it is unlikely that its use in South Lanarkshire
would have been achieved
In the opening remarks, the Evaluation Document states that I was being employed
by the Department of Child and Family Psychiatry at Yorkhill to utilise CUSTTAD in the assessment and treatment planning of
children referred to the department for a variety of behavioural emotional and psychological problems; and that during this
time I would be introducing other employees of DCFP to the technique, with the aim of enabling them to use the method to further
the assessment of children and to enhance the quality of the service they provided - while building on their skills as child
and family workers
The first paragraph in a section entitled
Recommendations is quoted below:
'The main value of CUSTTAD is as a diagnostic tool
and as a means through which children can give expression to their ideas and concerns. It is therefore a valuable resource
which would enhance the quality of service provided by DCFP'
Custtad in the Clinic; Two Years On
Mentioned elsewhere on the site this was one of two short
papers which were also written during my time in Yorkhill:
Responding to the Needs of Children with Emotional and
Behavioural Difficuties; A Middle Path
This second paper is more of a proposal and it was prepared for Anne Rooney of South Lanarkshire in 2002. At a meeting
in Knightswood, attended by Anne and Andrew Dickson, it was decided that the department would take on the task of setting
up a Custtad facility and provide training for several workers from the Authority.
for Learning. Examples of Areas of Good Practice in Glasgow Primary Schools ( North of the River)
As the Custtad approach in the Clinic was being evaluated, I was spending time each week in the facility
in Royston Primary School, Glasgow. Two documents associated with the work in Glasgow were produced during that time and they will be boxed along with those already
In the first of these, Support for Learning, Custtad received only a mention,
but as a formal recognition of our work we appreciated it. It came about as a result of a visit to the Royston facility by
two Special Education Needs Development Coordinators. In the booklet which was produced in 2000, the coordinators expressed
the hope that the reader would find it 'a useful source of
The second document is commented
Custtad in Glasgow
The subtitle includes the words 'observations on an attempt to interest Head Teachers of Glasgow Primary
Schools in the CUSTTAD'. And in the front matter are the words, 'As evidence of the gulf which can arise between aspiration
and implementation, this project may well provide an excellent example'
Although in some respects
this could be described as a rather disheartening enterprise, it was one from which we learned a great deal
We had obviously
failed to adequately describe the kind of space which would be required to house a Custtad facility or to emphasise sufficiently
the amount of time and effort which would be required to establish the approach during the initial phase of its implementation
We were however able to draw extensively on the experience and to make significant improvements in our subsequent
presentations about the work
This document covers in detail the various visits and communications which
took place on the road to the project's demise. If nought else it is an interesting read