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Donna Lai

Play Therapist/Social Worker

Donna is a clinical play therapist passionate about strengthening families, childhood trauma recovery, and building emotional resilience and attachment security in young children. She has a collaborative and reflective approach, empowering all to make positive changes in their lives, and as a result, strengthening and improving relationships. She creates an environment that allows children to feel safe to tell their story through the natural language of play, where instead of words, children ‘play out’ feelings and problems to make sense of their world and, as a result, build resilience.

Donna has specialised in providing therapeutic services to children and their families who have challenging needs, particularly grief/loss, developmental trauma, abuse or neglect, and attachment issues. She also works with children impacted by life events such as parental separation/divorce, peer/social issues, bullying, and bereavement, all of which can lead to a wide range of emotional, developmental, and behavioural difficulties. She counsels intending to enable the child to build self-worth, emotional maturity, and mastery over their behaviours, which results in long term growth.

Animal Assisted Therapy (1)

Donna works closely with parents and caregivers who are an integral part of the therapeutic process. She provides a reflective and supportive space to help families through stressful periods and resource them to be more sensitive and responsive to their children’s needs and feel more in control and confident in their parenting. Donna ensures parents are informed and involved at each stage of therapy. She supports the understanding of their child’s feelings and motivations and how this might be expressed through behaviour. Donna is passionate about providing practical and creative strategies to families supporting a child or young person with social, emotional, or behavioural difficulties. Her extensive skillsets and knowledge allow her to provide families with practical and sensitive strategies to their child’s emotional, social, behavioural, or developmental needs. These strategies, when applied, lead to healthier and more positive outcomes. Donna’s certifications in this area include Parent Effectiveness Training, Triple P Parenting, and Filial Therapy. She is a registered facilitator of the Circle of Security Parenting (COS – P) and Tuning Into Kids programs.

Donna is always delighted to integrate Animal Assisted Play Therapy into her therapeutic sessions to ensure outcomes are optimised. She believes passionately in the benefits of Dog-Assisted Intervention, especially in supporting children in their emotional regulation and learning journeys and feels blessed to have three dogs trained for Animal-Assisted Play Therapy work. These dogs, depending on the client, join her in therapy, and provide a calm, supportive environment for change to occur.

Donna also works out of her private consulting rooms at CoRe Counselling and Resilience Clinic in Highett and Play Therapy Hub in Preston.

Donna’s Qualifications:

  • Bachelor of Social Work
  • Master of Social Work (Advanced Practice)
  • Advanced Clinical Training in Play Therapy
  • Certified in Learn to Play
  • Certified Animal Assisted Play Therapist
  • Filial Therapy and Child-Parent Relationship Therapy
  • Positive Parenting Program (Triple P Parenting)
  • Parent Effectiveness Training
  • Circle of Security Parent Education Training
  • Tuning Into Kids Facilitator Training
  • Safe and Sound Protocol
  • Coming soon- Theraplay
  • Australian Association of Social Workers Registered (AASW)
  • Australian Play Therapists Association Registered

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