Play is how young children share their stories and experiences


My name is Lisa Clive and I am a Clinical Psychologist working in Paediatrics since 2007. I love my job which involves working with children and their families with chronic illness and medically unexplained symptoms.


Every day brings new opportunity to support children, their parents and staff.  I love meeting children and their families and through therapy that supports them to develop their coping skills and recognise their own resilience and strengths. Working with children is great as they bring so much creativity and energy which together we harness to bring about positive change. Being in this job one of the most important things I have learnt is how resilient children are, and how easy it is as adults to underestimate their capacity to cope with even the biggest of health challenges.



A really important part of my job is helping children and families develop and share stories of their experiences which can often be quite fragmented.


As Psychologists we call this building a narrative and the research shows us that this capacity to tell stories in our lives increases resilience and supports positive coping. Certainly clinically, I see so much change happening through this process; whether it is the adolescent who wants to build a story of their cancer journey as a child, or the young children who are trying to make sense of their medical experiences.


An example…

Recently I had so much fun with a delightful four-year old who very eloquently told me about the scary bits of his treatment and then together we wrote a story and began to think about what they would like to have done when the scary things happened.


What scared this child, was the number of medical professionals in the room when difficult interventions happened. So, with great glee, he told me how he wished he could have been a lion and roared and roared and scared the doctors away. We had great fun developing his roaring skills and building his story of developing his bravery as a lion and now he has been able to cope with ongoing complex medical treatment. It was interesting to reflect on this with the adults who supported him had not realised what had scared him most.


The lesson for me is to listen to the child so we can support them and don’t be afraid to have fun and be playful. It is amazing the power of play for children and how through play and laughter they can work through challenging experiences, after all play is how young children share their stories and experiences with us.


Something to take away…

As a Psychologist working with children I can’t emphasise enough the importance of taking the time to truly listen children big and small, have fun with them and be playful. It is amazing what a difference this can make even in the most challenging situations.


Lisa is writing as part of the #WeCare2 campaign that will be running across our Trust communications. Look out for more from AHPs and HCSs across the Trust on our social media pages, Trust screensavers, Daily Email, Vital Signs and much more.


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