Jessie and Jonathan met back in the 1980s, when it was still early days for board games such as Trivial Pursuit, Boggle and Pictionary. Our families would take turns to host a bi-annual dinner catch-up. After sharing a Chinese takeaway meal that left the table scattered with remnants of egg fried rice and sweet & sour chicken balls, the children were excused to… play games!
Advance to Go! Atari, Commodore 64 and the ZX Spectrum were not yet household names and it was before the internet would become widely available. Instead we played Yatzee!, PIT, Cluedo, Monopoly and Guess Who? We sought out hiding places for ‘Sardines’ – where all the finders squeezed in together until they were found by the final member of the group.
Looking back, these evenings were therapeutic. They took place in a familiar setting with people we trusted. They provided a release for the adults who chatted and the children who played, each comforted by a predictable format but enjoying the excitement of unknown outcomes to both the games and conversation. This ritualistic experience allowed space for us children, at varying developmental stages and ages, to manage and enjoy aspects of chance, luck, strategy, spontaneity, competition, cooperation and play.
We have continued to meet up for games and playful activities in our adulthood (including watching volleyball games at the 2012 Olympics), demonstrating the value and connection those early experiences provided. The habits adopted through play in those formative years are subliminally repeated. This repetition enables us to relive nostalgic memories, while also creating new ones. There remains the anticipation of unboxing a new game, impatience at learning the rules, cooperation, cathartic competition and the same goal – to have fun.
With work, social and therapeutic connections suddenly happening remotely in 2020, we were grateful some activities could be adapted to online. Socially, for instance, it was possible to play games on Steam (video game digital distribution service) or use the whiteboard on Zoom for activities such as Pictionary. For therapeutic sessions, however, where time and simplicity are of the essence, we realised there was a ‘Fairground-shaped’ hole! While peers generously shared resources and offered ideas, there lacked a single destination practitioners could visit with clients to explore a variety of activities and play therapeutic games. From here, the idea behind the ‘Therapy Fairground‘ began to form.
We decided to combine our skills, knowledge and interests, by inventing an engaging place for people to visit together. Our aim is that this interactive resource will help you to support connections, creativity, relationships, play, emotional development, wellbeing, self-esteem and self-expression.
We hope this has drawn you a picture of our long-standing passion and therapeutic relationship with play – an enthusiasm that culminated in the creation of this platform on which therapists and clients can meet.
Favourite fairground ride: Pirate Ship
Favourite game: Charades
After graduating from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama with an MA in Drama and Movement Therapy (HCPC Reg. AS05735), Jessie has specialised in working with children, young people, families and staff in education. Since qualifying as a Clinical Supervisor in 2010, Jessie has supervised students, qualified therapists/counsellors and staff (in education settings), using creative interventions, in person and online. She has a Postgraduate Certificate in Childhood Bereavement and a Foundation in Group Analysis.
Jessie has played active roles on the Supervision Sub-committee of BADTh (British Association of Dramatherapists) and has co-chaired the Creative Arts Supervision Forum, organising CPD days for qualified supervisors.
Jessie has published writing focused on themes of play, bereavement, family work, disability, transitions and collaboration with professionals across arts therapy modalities. She is the co-author of the children’s book, Hugo’s Hops (2022). Jessie has enjoyed the therapeutic benefits of playing and games from an early age. Curious to understand more about how creativity, play and the unconscious, support awareness, reflection and emotional development, she trained as a Dramatherapist.
Through her own therapy, training and professional experience she has been a consistent advocate for the power of play and games – within any age client group. Noticing these benefits led her to create Facing Feelings, a series of games that encourage children and others to share emotions with trusted adults and peers through drawing and play.
Whilst working remotely during the pandemic Jessie found very few online therapeutic resources. This highlighted a need for a ‘therapeutic destination’, where activities encouraging connection, imagination and sharing could take place. This initiated the creation of the Therapy Fairground.
Check out our Session Plans for possible paths around the Fairground.
Favourite fairground ride: Haunted House
Favourite game: Balderdash
After graduating from the University of Portsmouth with a BA in Media and Design, Jonathan worked as a graphic designer producing merchandise ranges for Disney and Coca-Cola. He then relocated to London to work for the world’s leading entertainment advertising agency, Dewynters. Whilst there he created artwork for West End and Broadway shows, the Royal Shakespeare Company, English National Opera, Royal Opera House, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King.
In 2007, he started his own design agency Garlic, focusing largely on the education sector (Oxford University Press and the University of Oxford) and the science research sectors (Federation of European Microbiological Societies, The National Archives, The Athenaeum of Philadelphia).
He has recently begun to work with several clients in the third sector, including Breast Cancer Action, Climate Designers, Climate Science, Rewired Earth, and Rewriting Extinction, helping them to further their reach. For over a decade he has worked as the lead Graphic Designer for the not-for-profit psychotherapy portal PESI UK.
In 2012, Jonathan was diagnosed with moderate to severe depression. Since then, he has used therapy and coping strategies to support his ‘black dog’. He has found therapeutic interventions have aided new perspectives and sharing his feelings and experiences has provided an essential release valve. He hopes his openness will encourage others to reach out and find therapeutic resources that can offer valuable support.
Jonathan is acutely and personally aware of the impact that pandemic-based restrictions have had on people’s fun, freedom and fortunes. Home schooling, isolation and anxiety have taken a great toll on people’s mental health – and in turn this created the inspiration and motivation for the development of Therapy Fairground.
Read more about our mission and core pillars.