Your time, your space

“your time, your space”
These are the words I use when my child client enters the room.
They hear it at the start of every session.
It is a reminder.
This place is different.
Has different rules.
The basics are about not hurting : yourself, me, the toys – although accidents do happen (sometimes need to happen…)

It is an invitation.
To those not used to having their own time, their own space- where they can be, where they can decide, where they can lead the way. Their way. At their pace.

No expectations. No targets to set – or achieve.
No stickers to collect.

In here it is not just the smiley face that is accepted.

In here all colours are ok. Midnight – scary as hell- black
Raving mad as hell red.
Deep as secrets blue
laugh out loud yellow
screeching bouncing orange
Slow and wet as mud brown.

In here we can speak of death. And hate.
And being chewed up by envy.
Being spat out.
Being overwhelmed like sloppy sand banks and rivers of water.

Of play dough poo.



being witnessed.
being seen
being heard.

Being accepted for who you are.
In that moment in time.

the walls in here hold as fast as the therapist’s attention.
the sand tray holds the sand.
the bucket holds the water.
even as it is poured out
and into

Being contained, weeks after week
within the same forty five minutes
creates other walls
of safety
of trust

this place is like no other.

it is a therapeutic space.

it is a therapeutic relationship

with a beginning, chaos and lots of different meanderings in the middle
and then
an end

a good enough ending
which is counted down
which is spoken
and made manifest
three more sessions
two more

and then

this is the last time we will meet

for now.

the bridge has been built.
the trust internalised.

and a new way of relating to the world, to others, and to self

has been made possible.

Filling out little yellow forms

I wasn’t really paying attention. I was playing a word game with tiles on the table next to theirs. Outside the pub. A Friday evening in September. Children were running around, chasing, laughing. They were talking, the adults, that is, about the school system. Filling out forms in order to go off site. The teachers, that is. For themselves.

At one point my son approached the table. He was introduced to the one he did not know. A science teacher. My son asked: “What is one plus one”.

That’s not science, the teacher said.

My son retorted in similar vein (I was just testing you, he said, with eleven year old confidence and slight challenge).

Me, I am not a teacher. Not a qualified one. But I do work closely with children and therefore, am closely acquainted with how their minds might work, given freedom to roam.

One plus one not science?.. what about one molecule plus one molecule?

I do remember my high school chemistry; extracting and adding notations/permutations of chemical reactions. [Reactions – how we react to children’s questions – as parents, teachers, educators.] But that’s how it is, isn’t it. We are all in our field of expertise. (Or our mole heap.) Knowing the answers.

Come over here, we shout. Or say. Or think. Or imply.

I know the answer.

All on our individual promontories, familiar with the (immediate) area/surrounds; the view. Our view. Our (limited) perspective.

My son is in secondary school. His day resembles the landscape in my head, I realise. He moves between, among molehills, conveniently categorised into separate subjects. Science. English. History. Maths. The dreaded maths. The numbers. Therefore science does not equal one plus one. History? Years of reign: Victoria vs Elizabeth. English: adding another paragraph to the essay, or playing with one letter: mole becomes hole [not whole].

Which brings me back to the table at the pub, playing a word game with tiles. The eight year old mind playing. Truly playing. And the teacher table next to me, talking about filling out little yellow forms.

Open studios

Open studios at Victoria Works these past few weekends. I decided to open my doors so people could come in and have a look. I explained that I am not an artist (in the pure sense of the word) but that I did make the partition wall myself, using templates of the old chair factory which were left behind when the workmen ‘downed tools’ and the current landlords took ownership and started converting the big old space into separate units. I introduced myself: Petro, Play Therapist.

People came in, looked at the doors. Some made the connection between the puzzle-like pieces on the partition wall and the chair factory origin of the place. And then it happened: almost all of them hovered at the threshold of the open doors, peering into the playroom. At the sand tray, big enough to climb into if you are smaller than 5 foot 1, the simply made easel and board, the puppets slumped behind the handmade puppet theatre … I watched how their feet resisted stepping over the wooden beam of the heavy mother-of-pearl inlay doors, whilst their torsos tilted forwards as they inspected the almost forbidden (forbidding?) world of childhood.

I liked this. The fact that the playroom feels like a special place. To be entered through a special entrance. Which creaks. Someone even noticed that the creak itself was a good creak, not a scary creak…

As you can tell, people engaged with the space and with me. I found myself having interesting conversations with people around therapy, parenthood, schooling, being creative, being stuck, feeling judged, the limits we place on ourselves – the voices of conditional acceptance in our heads when we start a new project or try and learn a new skill…

I knew that having my therapy space in a mainly artist inhabited hub would suit my temperament. The space now reflects the child-led nature of my work. After these past weekends I now have proof that it exudes the right amount of permissiveness. blueboxandtail stands. Poised and Ready.

Summer launch and workshops

Come and have a peek at my new space – for Play Therapy, for child-parent relationship workshops, and much more. All about a playful approach to emotional growth and enhanced relationships.

Ask me about Play Therapy, or suggest a colour for the walls – will be great to see you there.

I’ll be there this Thursday 28th from 12 onwards, come whilst Lavender bakehouse (next door) is open and have cake and tea. Park in the lay-bye before Chalford as parking is restricted.

Falling leaves and blue skies

Open Thursdays

28 August
4, 11 September

Workshop Fridays

29 August
5, 12 September

Contact: petro (at) blueboxandtail (dot) co (dot) uk

blueboxandtail is the new home for Play Therapy, offered by Petro-Nelise Sollé in a beautiful setting a few miles outside Stroud.

Through their language of play, children often find a way to explore and express difficult feelings, fears and fantasies around life as they experience it. Play Therapy can help them move forward and beyond developmental difficulties in their life – in their own time, at their own pace.

If you think your child might benefit from a playful approach to therapy and emotional growth, please come to one of my open Thursdays at Blue Box and Tail or try a parent & child workshop:

Workshop One: Two animals and a piece of string – blueboxandtail explores creative play

Workshop Two: What colour is your day – blueboxandtail explores feelings

I am a fully qualified, insured and BAPT-registered Play Therapist I have experience in education, a professional background in drama and have a keen interest in how dogs and children can teach us how to play.

Victoria Works Studios London Road
Chalford GL6 8HN

The studios enjoy a canal-side setting with lovely walks and refreshments nearby.


blueboxandtail is a play therapy service established by Petro-Nelise Sollé in 2013.

From early summer 2014, Petro will be providing therapeutic interventions in a dedicated playroom a few miles outside Stroud, in the lovely valley of Chalford.

Her studio space sits in a newly renovated workshop, converted from an old chair factory, now called Victoria Works Studios: “I am very excited to finally have my own space, where I don’t have to lug things around in a trolley-bag and boxes; something I have done since starting therapy placements across London.”

Petro graduated from Roehampton University, London with an MA in Play Therapy in 2011. This was her third degree – Petro’s former lives consisted of acting, directing, voice-work; then a move behind the camera working on features in America whilst travelling, documentaries in the UK, and a short fiction film in her native South Africa, before deciding to change to therapeutic work with children.

For Petro, bringing stories into a healing context brings a hard earned fulfilment: “Yes it’s hard work, and, like good parenting, the aim is a letting go – there will always be an ending to every therapeutic relationship, however long – or short – the duration”.

But she believes the impact and the rewards can be long lasting: “Some moments in the playroom can be profoundly touching; amazingly transformative”.

For more info on the launch of Blue Box and Tail, upcoming workshops and information on Play Therapy, contact: petro (at) blueboxandtail (dot) co (dot) uk

Petro-Nelise is a registered Play Therapist: see