Leilah Moodley Integrative Child Psychotherapist header

Leilah Moodley:

Trainee Integrative Child Psychotherapist

I am Leilah Moodley and I work in the low-cost therapy and counselling service at HQ Therapy Rooms in Hackney, London E8. I was previously working as a social worker with children and families.

I am currently training in Integrative Child Psychotherapy using a relational approach. This means I believe strongly that in creating a trusting, understanding and safe therapeutic relationship, huge shifts and healing can take place. The idea that central to effective therapy is the client-therapist relationship. I use attunement and the creation of positive attachment to actively communicate empathy and acceptance of each child.

My approach limits shame, promotes compassion and brings a sense of mutual support, strength and resilience. I provide children and young people the comfort and containment needed to explore and resolve past trauma and shame related experiences. In a non-judgmental, nurturing and creative space I use the arts and play to allow the child to fully express and explore themselves. I work with many art resources, and use puppets, sand-tray, paints and toys so that children and young people have the option of communicating not solely through talking.

This can often feel safer, and can allow indirect communication, putting the child in control and allowing the therapy to develop at a tolerable pace so they do not feel overwhelmed. As it is non-verbal it is particularly powerful with children who find it difficult to articulate thoughts, sensations, emotions or perceptions. It can be a positive way, to tell without talking, when children are unable to or afraid to speak about specific events or feelings.

The use of the arts can stop repetitive cycles of worry, calming the body and the nervous system and slowing everything down so emotions can be processed safely, and this can often be a soothing and regulating experience. This is because it is a sensory experience, utilising visual, tactile, kinaesthetic methods. This process is not just simply using arts and crafts or playing, in the context of a therapeutic relationship it can lead to powerful self-exploration and lead to discovering purposeful meaning.

Neurobiology informs us that the sensory experience is effective in improving mood, sensory integration, calming the body and mind. It also provides the opportunity to express through metaphor, and I am a big advocate of storytelling and narratives to promote understanding of self, and to release disturbing or traumatic experiences.

In this context, young people can talk, play, and create as a way to process big, uncomfortable and shameful feelings. The key to my approach is a deep respect for the child’s own experience and their inner world. Over time, building a trusting relationship can enable children to widen the relational options with self or others, and fulfil their potential. They develop a positive and integrated sense of self, growing in self-esteem and confidence.

This can lead to them making sense of the world around them and begin to heal and feel more positive as they learn to regulate and contain their own emotions.

Previously, I have worked with a range of ages and have experience working with different traumas and presentations including anxiety, depression, self-harm and behavioural issues. I have a particular interest in working with girls and young women who have experienced body issues and sexual trauma.

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