Shuna Mercer runs her own business as a play therapist and specialises on working with children on the autistic spectrum. Here Shuna tells us how she became interested in play therapy.

Ever since I was a wee girl I dreamed of working in the theatre.

At the age of 17 I left my home in the country to embark on my big adventure in the world of theatre only to discover that it didn’t fulfil all my dreams.

Looking for a change of direction, I became a child play development worker in a deprived area of Glasgow. This allowed me to use my theatre background, be creative and engage with some fantastic kids. I loved this work, however I felt frustrated by my lack of skills in supporting their emotional needs. I could see that a lot of their difficult and challenging behaviours came as a result of their difficult life experiences. I considered training in Drama Therapy, however when I heard about the Play Therapy course at Notre Dame in Glasgow I knew straight away it was what I wanted to do.

Since graduating in 2005, I have operated my own business as a Play Therapist and now can’t imagine doing anything else. Play allows me to engage with children using their language, allowing me to understand their inner world, and support them to cope. Play Therapy gives children the time and space to truly be themselves.

I have been specialising in working with children on the autistic spectrum in recent years.    When I work with children on the spectrum I don’t think of them as having a disability. I think of them as children who are full of their own dreams, hopes and inner drives towards growth. The child centred approach of Play Therapy allows a child with autism to truly be themselves, not forced into how society wants them to behave.

Through my Play Therapy practice I offer one to one, group therapy, Filial family therapy  as well as child consultation, person centred planning facilitation, and training to professionals. Referrals come from a wide range of places in and around Glasgow, covering a variety of issues. My preference is to hold sessions within the child’s school or nursery setting as it allows for consistent sessions and to work closely with all involved with the child. I work alongside the families and others involved with the child and believe that this is vital for the effectiveness of Play Therapy.

For further information I can be contacted at mail@shunaplaytherapy.co.uk or by phone on 07736062024.