PLAY THERAPY

Dundalk's Blossom Therapy helps children with social skills and anxiety

"Blossom Therapy is basically a mixture of HomeTrain social skills and play therapy approaches."

Aine Kenny

Reporter:

Aine Kenny

Email:

ainekenny96@gmail.com

Dundalk's Blossom Therapy helps children with social skills and anxiety

Blossom Therapy takes place in the Redeemer Centre.

Blossom Therapy is a social club for children in Dundalk designed to help them develop their social skills, as well as helping them cope with issues such as stress and anxiety.

Blossom Therapy was founded in Blanchardstown in 2013 by Amanda Croker. Amanda says there were families from Dundalk driving all the way to Blanchardstown to attend Blossom Therapy, so last November the group decided to set up a branch in Dundalk.

"We looked around venues in Dundalk and we decided on the Redeemer Centre in the end,” Amanda
says. “It is just a lovely space with a really friendly atmosphere,” she smiles.

"Blossom Therapy is basically a mixture of HomeTrain social skills and play therapy approaches,” she explains.

"We have SNA’s, parents, teachers and play therapists involved in the group…we have a combination of approaches to ensure the children get the best experience."

Children who attend play-based therapy and social groups like Blossom Therapy enjoy many benefits.

"We help children cope with separation anxiety, learn how to accept losing, and we can improve their
language, social, and sharing skills," Amanda explains. “We also teach the older children mindfulness
and relaxation techniques to cope with stress."

The group can be helpful for children who are on the autism spectrum, exhibit behaviours consistent
with ADHD, are recovering from trauma or loss or are not coping well in school. Children don’t need a
diagnosis to attend the group.

Amanda says that some children may experience developmental delays, with some struggling to interact with others appropriately and not understanding personal space boundaries. Blossom Therapy can help children develop their social skills in a relaxed, non-judgmental setting.

"We have a high-demand for our services, but we also want to keep the numbers small to make sure everyone is looked after," Amanda explains.

"Usually our groups have six to 12 children in them… this results in a lot of peer interaction and focused attention from the people running the groups," Amanda says.

"We are able to give our undivided attention to the kids… the importance of teaching them eye contact and facial expressions can’t be underestimated… when a child looks up and sees you are paying attention to them their face just lights up," she smiles.

Amanda says that she believes that technology could be having a negative effect on children’s
development. “We don’t have any screens in our groups, it is all about the human interaction and there are no distractions," she says.

"With iPads and phones, no one is looking at each other or fully engaging.

"Amanda reveals that Blossom Therapy, in part, set up due to lack of resources. “It can take over a year to get a diagnosis, (for autism or ADHD) and then you can be waiting even longer for therapy from the HSE, then sometimes their programmes aren’t long enough… with us, you don’t need a GP referral, anyone who needs us can contact us,” Amanda explains.

"It is amazing what a year of social skills clubs can do… children can make real progress," Amanda
concludes.

To find out more about Blossom Therapy, or to book a place for your child, you can call Amanda on
0872979504. Limited places are now available for the Dundalk group’s next term, starting on the 10th of April. Blossom Therapy can also be reached via Facebook https://www.facebook.com/blossomdundalk/.