What to Expect in a Special Time Session?


I discuss confidentiality and privacy with children in the first session.

I explain my rule about keeping themselves, me and everything in the play space safe.

Children start to look at, touch and play with toys.


Children interact with toys, and me, more confidently.

They often regress to an earlier time, express troubled feelings or test boundaries. (This can happen at home and school too.)


Children begin to talk about issues or find creative ways to deal with them.

They occasionally retreat to distressed behaviours.


Children, key adults and I decide positive changes can be maintained outside the play space.

Alternatively, children have a set number of sessions.

A planned celebration session marks the end.

(Session length: 30 minutes for children aged 3-5; 45 minutes for children 6 years and over)

What toys are in the play space, and why?

Sand Play Therapy in Exeter
Sand tray
Zillah Harford Special Time In Devon

The sand tray is a free and protected space. Miniatures put in the sand become the words and symbols for stories, events and feelings.

Special Time In Exeter
Dressing up clothes, puppets, role play toys and therapeutic stories
Special Time For Children
Instruments, CDs, fabrics and streamers
Special Time In Devon
Paints, clay, craft and sensory materials

The toys and materials allow children to explore their creativity and imagination …

… and to work on personal issues through the language of play.

They let children “talk about something as something else” …

… as metaphors.

Research shows that more brain centres light up in response to metaphors than any other form of human communication.

This allows new neural pathways to be made.

When these new pathways light up feel-good hormones called opioids and oxytocin are released.

And that helps children manage their behaviour and feel more positive about themselves and life.

For an informal chat to discuss how I can help you, click here to contact me.