Unlock Programme Play Therapy Donegal

In January 2018, I launched the UNLOCK Programme – a programme tailored to the family to support the whole unit – Therapy Sessions with the child so that they feel happier, less anxious and more confident, Parent Sessions to support, listen, educate and advise on how to best help your child.

I created the UNLOCK Programme as a system of care that focuses on supporting child, parents, and the whole family as a unit. This partnership approach is the most effective way to overcome challenges and achieve wellness. With a clear set of goals and step by step actions that we take together, UNLOCK ends the waiting, overwhelm, and worry so that your whole family are happier.


Here are some of the waysI can help

I work with children from age 3-18 years, who are experiencing a variety of challenges such as: 

  • anxiety
  • anger/rage
  • developmental delays
  • shyness/who are extremely quiet
  • lack of confidence/self-belief
  • relationship/social skill difficulties
  • bullying
  • self-harm
  • experienced loss
  • bed wetting
  • food aversions
  • sleep problems
  • parental separation
  • move to a new home/school
  • suffered trauma such as emotional/sexual abuse
  • children who have been hospitalised or experience illness within the family
  • children with extra needs such as Autism/ADHD etc.

What to expect before, during & after the UNLOCK programme


Unlock Programme Play Therapy Donegal

Before your child comes to therapy, we will arrange a parent/carer intake session. Parents/Carers play a vital role in accurate assessment, effective treatment planning and successful outcomes. The aim of this meeting is to gather information relevant to the child’s difficulties and to discuss the process of the UNLOCK Programme. An hour is allocated for the consultation. The parent has the opportunity to discuss in detail the concerns they have for the child and explore the child’s experiences and difficulties. The therapist can also provide parents with support. You will find this session clarifies your goals for how to alleviate the worry and stress that you are experiencing and how working together we can get you and your family there. Together, we can figure out the best approaches and devise a treatment plan for your child/adolescent and whole family unit going forward so that more ease is created.

Therapy sessions are generally weekly for 50-55 minutes. The length of time your child attends therapy depends on the issues: a minimum of 12 – 15 sessions are recommended to begin with. It is important to note that play therapy is not a quick fix solution. Some children/adolescents can respond well to short term intervention, others need longer.

As parents are involved in the play therapy process, you will be asked to attend regular sessions about your child’s/adolescent’s progress in which general information will need shared about your child’s needs, feelings and what he/she may be communicating. The therapist will also explore areas of parenting with parents. Towards the end of the initial 7week programme there is an assessment as to whether you feel your child could benefit from attending further sessions.

About Me

My name is Deirdre Nicole Ward, Ex Abu Dhabi Rose of Tralee, Proud Donegal Woman and Champion of Children’s well-being!

I am a qualified child and adolescent Psychotherapist specialising in Play Therapy practising since January 2018. Prior to this I worked as a Primary School Teacher for over 8 years in Ireland and Abu Dhabi. I have a wealth of knowledge and experience working with children from 2years up to 18years with varying and diverse needs. I have volunteered alongside Aid Roche’s charity in Chernobyl, Barretstown Camp and worked with children with severe needs such as a child with quadriplegic cerebral palsy through the Jack & Jill Foundation.

My core purpose is to bring my skills and expertise to children and families who need help, working with them to develop ‘full-family well-being’. I am constantly learning and developing my practice.

Aside from my professional training, I can connect with children because I can so clearly remember how I felt as a child. Growing up, I was anxious, lacked confidence and was afraid to trust others. Even though I was adopted into a family full of love, reassurance and security, some part of me felt locked inside. I have learned how to unlock myself, overcome fears, dispel worries, and grow in confidence. Today my professional practice is rooted in a non-judgmental approach with empathy at its core. I provide safety, reassurance, and love for you and your child.