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Deciding what to do if a child has an emotional or behaviour problem

The following guidelines may help you to decide what to do if you know a child or children with emotional, behaviour or mental health problems.

If you are responsible for a child
If you work with children
If you manage a school, home, care centre etc

Request for help form

Parent or carer

Does the child have an emotional or behaviour problem?

No  - allow the child plenty of time to play

Yes - how severe are the problem(s)?

Slight or  Mild

Is the child under 3?

Between 3 and 14?

Consider filial play

Consider therapeutic play,  play therapy or filial play

Moderate or a number of mild problems

Over 3 years? 


Over 14 years?

Consider play therapy


Consider counselling - talking therapy


Over 3 years and under 14

See your doctor for a referral to a child psychotherapist etc

How to identify the severity of a problem (guidelines)

See also Guidelines for Referral based on observation of play

Do you wish to acquire therapeutic play skills or become a play therapist? 

Personal Qualities Required

Look at - the PTA Career Development Map

Look at details of approved courses 

Consider becoming a member of PTA

If you manage a school, home or centre for children?

Ask PTA about ways of introducing or extending an emotional support service to supplement academic and behaviour support services.  See also professional support services.

Alternatively ask your local Play Therapist, or PTA about our informative workshops for setting up managed play therapy services and corporate membership.

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