1st Edition

Using Art, Play, Metaphor, and Symbol with Hard-to-Reach Young Clients Reach Out To Me

Edited By Aileen Webber, James Webber Copyright 2023
    220 Pages 47 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    220 Pages 47 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book demonstrates some of the unique ways in which therapists can help complex and vulnerable clients considered "hard-to-reach", using arts media and play.

    Using a wealth of case studies, contributors describe their unique therapeutic attempts to reach clients who, for various reasons, seem unreachable. These moving therapeutic journeys are described in a phenomenological, auto-ethnographic way by the therapists themselves, as a series of "snapshot" glimpses into the therapy room. The therapists describe how combinations of art, play, metaphor, and imagination have helped them navigate the complex pathways to reach their clients. Each chapter is fully supported by the contributing therapists' own selection of theoretical ideas and analysis.

    The book will help therapists consider innovate creative approaches in their work with clients who have been deemed too complex to work with in individual therapy, emphasising the importance of play and arts resources in helping them achieve this.

    Foreword. Snapshot From the Doorstep.

    James Webber.

    Introduction: Arrival in The Land of Stories.

    Aileen Webber & James Webber.

    Meeting a Hard to Reach Client

    Koren Wilmer.

    1. A Sausage Dog Called Daisy.

    Aileen Webber & Angela. Amos.

    2. My Heart Hurts.

    Elizabeth Bond.

    3. The Toad Croakers in The Land of Noise.

    Koren Wilmer.

    4. Florence Nightingale is Just Outside the Door.

    Jane Unsworth.

    5. The Ripple Effect: Supervising Jane.

    Aileen Webber.

    6. The Boy Trapped in a Puffer Fish.

    Sarah Attle.

    7. The Faceless Face: Reaching Shame Without Words.

    Jude Adcock.

    8. The Locust on The Platter.

    Aileen Webber.

    9. The Boy in the Orange Tent.

    Suzanne Little.

    10. Lost in Lockdown.

    Carole Rawley.

    11. Magical Horses: Equine Therapy.

    Lucy Jayne.

    12. The Silent Voice.

    Aileen Webber.

    13. Why Can’t You Reach Me?

    Amy McInerny.


    Aileen Webber is a Gestalt and Integrative Arts Psychotherapist who works with children and adults and also works as a supervisor and consultant to other therapists.

    James Webber is an artist, musician and writer.  His songs have appeared in numerous films and TV shows. He is the editor and main contributor of the print newspaper Le Journal, published by Overheard Le Labo.

    "As both a therapist and writer for children and young adults, I found the chapters of Reach Out to Me compelling, moving and deeply thought-provoking. From both of those perspectives each chapter was an enlightening and fascinating picture of real-life therapy experience. The bravery and honesty of each account - from perplexed and inexperienced therapist, to (occasionally perplexed!) and experienced supervisor – reads like a gripping mini story of suspense and jeopardy, each told by thoughtful, sensitive, and strong authors. That these are real therapeutic accounts of encounters with young and very troubled clients - incorporating all the self-doubt, missteps, and soul-searching that such work entails – makes the book deeply valuable. And that so many of the stories have positive outcomes shows the urgent need for work like this. The skill, determination and creativity of the therapists and supervisors displayed in this book is inspiring. As are the clients’ stories, explored so elegantly."

    Julian Sedgwick, bodywork therapist and author of Tsunami Girl; Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black

    "This book provides us with stories that bring together the combined depth, breadth, and aesthetic sensibilities of the wise women who seek to use their phronetic experience to make a welcoming space for children, who in the eyes of many may be seen as hard-to-reach. Their stories provide a refreshing moment to stop, listen, and join with them as they generously share their practice-based evidence. Through narrative they show the individualised and deeply relational manner in which they professionally care about the young people they meet. The book will be a valuable resource for trainee child and adolescent therapeutic practitioners, particularly those working with an integrative model. McInerny ends the volume with a thought-provoking chapter entitled ‘Why can’t you reach me!’. This is the key message of the book - not how do we enable hard-to-reach children to access the models of work we want to provide, but what must we do as therapists to ensure that our style of work adapts to children to enable them to connect with us and the world without being diminished."

    Fiona Peacock, PhD, BACP Senior Accredited Counsellor/Psychotherapist, Co-Lead Child and Adolescent Psychotherapeutic Counselling programme, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, Co-director Theraplay® UK

    "I really enjoyed reading this book and found it profoundly moving and life-affirming how each of the children, despite complex and sometimes desperate situations, were reached. Reach Out to Me presents a series of heartwarming stories that demonstrate a range of approaches which successfully engage hard-to reach young people. Whilst the book describes the therapist-client relationship within the therapeutic space, parallels can be drawn across a range of professional contexts engaging hard-to-reach young people within a significant trusting relationship. The insight which the therapists give into their own feelings as the therapeutic relationship develops makes this an immensely relatable book. As an education professional working with young people who present in many of the ways the clients in this book do, I found the reflections in the chapters particularly helpful to support my own approaches. This book is warmly recommended."

    Nadine Herbert, teacher and centre lead of a specialist provision for children who are hard-to-reach.