Watch Me Play!

Course overview

Watch Me Play! is a way of supporting vulnerable babies and young children (aged from 0-7) and their caregivers. Developed with the needs of young children in care in mind, the approach has been found helpful in a wide range of contexts, including post-adoption, teenage parents, supervised contact, as well as for children in intact families who have emerging but unclear difficulties, and as a first line or waiting list intervention.

Produced with funding from the Tavistock Clinic Foundation, the Watch Me Play! manual has been disseminated in Australia, Japan, South Africa and Scandinavia and translations are underway into Estonian, Italian, Japanese and Russian.

The approach promotes child-led play, individual attention from caregivers, and talking with children about their play. Caregivers are encouraged to provide children with age-appropriate toys and their undivided attention in a quiet environment for regular short times two or more times a week. Caregivers are also encouraged to talk with the child about their play, and to reflect with another involved adult or a professional on their observations of the child’s play and how it felt to be with the child as they played.

The course runs over two days:

Day 1 - Introduction to Watch Me Play!

Day 2 - Watch Me Play! in practice

The introductory day is a friendly, interactive forum for practitioners from a range of professional backgrounds. Participants are invited to share their experiences and expertise and there will be opportunities to ask questions throughout the day. A presentation giving an overview of the Watch Me Play! approach will include video illustration. We will talk through the freely downloadable Watch Me Play! materials. The day focuses on practical applications and has a varied format including whole,  small group and case discussion. 

This day offers practitioners an opportunity to consolidate their understanding of the approach and share successes, difficulties and dilemmas with other practitioners and the facilitators. The day focuses on practical applications for those introducing Watch Me Play! to their practice and/or providing training and supervision for practitioners in their service.

A range of teaching styles will be used including whole, small group and case discussion. Practitioners will be invited to discuss a recent Watch Me Play! session and receive feedback and reflections from the group. There will also be opportunities to discuss evaluation and service-specific materials. 

After taking part in the course, participants will:

• Understand the rationale for a therapeutic approach to support vulnerable babies and young children

• Be familiar with the principles of the Watch Me Play! approach

• Understand how to introduce the Watch Me Play! approach to caregivers and colleagues

• Understand ways forward for introducing and establishing Watch Me Play! in a range of settings

•  Be familiar with ways of training and supporting colleagues working with families in different contexts

• Be able to draw on the experiences of colleagues in planning delivery and evaluation of Watch Me Play! 

This online workshop is for practitioners in health, social care and education working with vulnerable babies and young children and their caregivers, and those seeking to extend their skills into this area of work: early years practitioners; social workers, contact supervisors; health visitors and children in care nurses; mental health clinicians including psychologists, child psychotherapists and psychiatrists; teachers, nursery nurses and early years support workers.

Prior experience of infant observation will be helpful for this course.

Dr Jenifer Wakelyn is lead child and adolescent psychotherapist in a Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust mental health service for children in care in London. She is the author of Therapeutic Approaches with Babies and Young Children in Care: Observation and Attention (Routledge, 2020) .

Dr Jane Clark is a qualified social worker and an attachment therapist with many years’ experience currently working in the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust First Step team and in private practice.

Hungry for more, which is very good to feel. Thinking how I can begin to pilot this in my CAMHS service in the near future and now with parents that I am working with. June 2020

I am buzzing with ideas now!!!! How to use this and where its possible, because its so accessible and now with a new found confidence to support others in using Watch Me Play... I can't wait to get going!!! Oct 2020

This course will be delivered remotely using Zoom. This is very easy and safe to use regardless of your level of IT skill.
You will need a device with a microphone and camera together with a suitably fast internet connection. Although mobile devices and tablets can be used, we recommend the use of laptop or desktop PC for the best experience. Some devices provided by employers may have restrictions in place. Please use this test link ( to check your set up before booking.

You will be sent joining instructions including all the necessary login links, passwords and guidance on how to use the relevant functionality about a week before the course start date.

Should you have any concerns about the accessibility of remote delivery please contact us at to discuss how we can best help you.

New dates for this course will be advertised here in due course. Please complete this form to be added to the waiting list.


New dates for this course will be advertised here in due course. Please complete this form to be added to the waiting list.

Certificate of attendance
Admission status:
Course lead:
Dr Jenifer Wakelyn

Enquire about this course

Make an enquiry

Sign up to the course waiting list

CPD17: Register your interest

Share this page

Other courses you might be interested in:

Talking to Children about Difficult Things: Understanding emotional communication in challenging and turbulent contexts

Perhaps now more than ever, social workers and others in allied professions frequently need to talk to children and young people about difficult...

Find out more