Our Time Has Come!

The Parks Alliance News Letter May 2019 – The Parks Alliance

I recently delivered an online workshop on play therapy in the outdoors to second year students at Roehampton. From our Q and A discussions, it became clear that with current social distancing guidelines in place, working in usual indoor spaces may pose a number of significant issues that can be resolved if we work outdoors.

I work in a primary school which, in line with guidance, has put those attending into bubbles of up to 15 children which means there are effectively twice as many ‘classes’ and therefore no spare rooms. My ‘playroom’ is now a year 6 bubble base! Fortunately the school is blessed with fairly extensive grounds which we have always used when a child wants to step out but we now have our own designated outdoor space next to the very productive vegetable garden and with it’s own small slope to roll down!

Hygiene guidance around wiping down of all surfaces and resources between clients and maintaining a distance of 2 metres during play, while all absolutely necessary, feels rather too medicalized and a little intrusive to me for some reason – different to the rather more organic feel to my usual sessions. But since when we do go outside we generally only use a limited range of resources, strict hand washing routines are already in place and keeping space between us just happens it feels as if in a very changed and different world, by being outside we can keep some degree of normality. Since those children already attending the school sessions seem to have coped very well with the changes that have had to be put in place, this is something I will reflect on in supervision to see whether the need for normality is really mine, and if so, is it problematic or a natural reaction to the chaos around us.

But my own musings aside, it is clear that in terms of our collective health and well-being, we are advised that being outside is best, something we have long advocated in COOPT. So it seems that our time may well have come in a way we could not have envisaged six months ago and I think more and more creative arts therapists will be drawn to consider moving into the outdoors. We can feel rightly proud that we have together paved the way for safe and ethical play therapy practice and can offer guidance and support to those who are less confident.

Although at present, the Scout camp we have booked for our October Campover Conference is closed, I am hopeful it will be open soon and we can offer a space to friends both old and as yet unmet. With this in mind, I will be sending out booking forms and payment details next week so make sure the date is in your diary now – October 24th and 25th. We will of course be offering a full refund of fees paid by COOPT members should we have to return to lockdown and cancel so you can book your place with confidence!

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