About us

Who are we?

Active Play Therapies was set up in 2014 by two occupational therapists,  Anna Willis and Amelia Bray. Active Play Therapies is now run by Anna. We specialise in occupational therapy for children, families and adults across Dorset. Active Play Therapies is made up of a collection of wonderful therapists who are experienced and trained in a range of areas, including sensory integration, neurodevelopmental conditions (autism, ADHD) and picky eating.

Our Therapists

Anna Willis | Owner of Active Play Therapies, OT and Advanced SI Practitioner



Anna has over 10 years of experience working with children with autism, and graduated with a BSc (Hons) in OT in 2008. Anna and has spent the past 10 years as an OT working with children and adults with a range of  learning disabilities and autism. Anna has completed post graduate sensory integration (SI) training and is an Advanced SI Practitioner

Anna enjoys playing, and believes that play is the primary occupation of children (and is still important in adulthood!), so tries to incorporate a playful approach to therapy.

Anna is experienced in training parents, carers and professionals in group and individual settings. Anna is particularly interested in children who are ‘picky eaters’ and has successfully worked with parents and their children to increase the range of foods they will eat.
Anna can provide interventions including:

    • Sensory advice and toolkits (previously known as sensory diets)
    • Self-regulation education for children and adults around their sensory needs (e.g. using The Alert Program)
    • SOS Picky Eaters for children struggling to eat a wide range of foods
    • Reports around support needed for daily living
    • Skill development for daily living
    • Sensory integration therapy
  • Sensory based therapy

Marianne Frearson | OT and SI Practitioner (Maternity Leave until 2021)



Since qualifying as an Occupational Therapist in 2008 Marianne has gathered a range of experience working in a variety of different services- Adolescent Inpatient Mental Health, Education and NHS Community Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. Marianne has coordinated the adolescent inpatient group therapy program and since her degree has post graduate qualifications in Sensory Integration Practice, Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (level 1) as well as Lego-Based Therapy. Marianne has a great deal of experience carrying out 1:1 therapy, group sessions, clinical/ managerial supervision, training and consultation. Marianne is a registered member of the Health & Care Professional’s Council and Sensory Integration Network. She is currently working in the Education setting alongside being an Independent Occupational Therapist. Marianne is able to offer a range of therapeutic interventions to meet the needs of complex young people.

Kate Cartwright | OT and SI Practitioner



Kate has over 18 years experience as a qualified Occupational Therapist both in the UK and overseas.  Working for the NHS since qualifying in 2000, she has worked in a variety of settings in Mental Health, Physical, and Autism services including inpatient mental health, community teams, drug rehabilitation and psychosis.  Kate has worked as a specialist OT in the NHS for the Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) Service for over 8 years and has completed post graduate sensory integration training.  She is a qualified SI practitioner with over 7 years of experience applying this to practice and using an Ayres SI therapy approach.

Kate is experienced in assessing and supporting young adults with AS to gain confidence and take steps towards independence and work towards their goals.  Passionate about supporting people to reach their potential, Kate can support adults with AS to fulfil work roles, having a wide range of experience in completing work assessments and advising HR/Occupational Health on reasonable adjustments for the workplace.

Kate regularly delivers training on AS to groups of professionals, carers, people with AS and others using her experience and specialism within the field.  Kate loves to facilitate groups for people with autism especially around sensory difficulties and employment.  Registered as a member of RCOT and the SI Network.

Kate can provide the following interventions to anyone over 15 years old:

  • Sensory advice and toolkits
  • Sensory based dyspraxia assessments and interventions
  • SI therapy and assessment using Ayres SI approach
  • Employment assessment and advice on reasonable adjustments for employers and employees
  • Assessment using AMPS for daily living skills to provide reports/ recommendations for care needs, benefits assessments such as PIP/ESA
  • Interventions for daily living skill development
  • Training for wide range of groups on ASD

Jo Mengell | OT and SI Practitioner

Since graduating with a BSc (Hons) in Occupational Therapy in 2000, Jo has gained more than 18 years of experience working as an OT in the NHS. During this time she has worked with Adults with a range of Learning Disabilities and neurodiverse conditions including Autism, Dyspraxia and ADHD in a variety of settings. Jo currently works as a specialist OT for an adult Asperger’s Syndrome Service where she is passionate about helping individuals to live well with their diagnosis. Jo has post graduate training in sensory integration therapy and is a qualified SI Practitioner, with over 10 years experience of using this approach in her practice.

Jo is experienced in assessing individuals with Autism (with or without a learning disability) and working with them as needed to develop their skills, for example in the areas of daily living or employment. She has regularly provided support to young adults in colleges or higher education and has a particular interest in helping those with AS to understand and overcome social communication challenges.

An experienced trainer, Jo regularly delivers training to professionals, carers and those who have been recently diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Condition wanting to learn more about the condition.

Jo can provide a range of interventions for anyone over 15 years old including:

  • Sensory and self-regulation advice and toolkits
  • Standardised assessment of daily living skills (e.g. using AMPS) and reports/recommendations for care needs or benefits assessments such as PIP.
  • Social skills training
  • Interventions for daily skill development
  • Sensory Integration assessment and therapy
  • Workplace assessment and employment advice regarding reasonable adjustments, for employees or employers
  • Autism training for groups or individuals