About us

Who are we?

Active Play Therapies is run by Anna Willis, specialist occupational therapist and Advanced Sensory Integration Practitioner. Active Play Therapies was set up in 2014 by two OTs, Anna and Amelia, to provide a high quality therapy service without age, diagnosis or time constraints. 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 her career 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. She freelances for Sensory Integration Education, the national body that trains therapists in Sensory Integration.

Anna enjoys playing, and believes that play is the primary occupation of children (and is still important in adulthood!), so incorporates 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
    • Ayres Sensory Integration therapy
    • Sensory based therapy

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

Jennie Boyt | Occupational Therapist, Advanced SI Practitioner and Dialectical Behaviour Therapist


Jennie qualified in 1999 with Bsc(Hons) OT, and has been practising as an OT mainly in the NHS since. Jennie has experience in adult social care and intermediate care, 7 years experience in adult mental health including older people and dementia, 12 years experience in adult / adolescent learning disability services (16 years+) and 2 years in paediatrics based in a Child Development Centre.

Jennie is an Advanced Sensory Integration Practitioner with over 14 years experience applying this to practice. She is also a qualified Dialectical Behaviour Therapist, with 10 years experience of applying this therapy to people with a learning disability and traits of emotionally unstable personality disorder. She has additional training in Sex and Relationships for People with a Learning Disability with 11 years of experience applying this to complex situations, especially around capacity to consent. Jennie completed a Positive Approaches to Managing Challenging Behaviour in Learning Disability Services with the University of Hertfordshire in 2015. Jennie has used the Model of Human Occupation as a framework for her practice throughout her various roles and have training in a number of related tools, including the Assessment of Motor and Process Skills and the Evaluation of Social Interaction. Jennie has developed and run a variety of groups, including to develop social skills, understand more about our bodies and sexual changes, develop independent living skills in the home and community, and manage emotions.

Jennie is able to provide a range of interventions including:

  • Sensory and self-regulation advice and toolkits
  • Managing emotional difficulties including tolerating distress
  • Standardised assessment of daily living skills (e.g. using AMPS)
  • Standardised assessment of social skills using ESI and interpersonal, sexual, intimate relationship and social skills training
  • Interventions for daily skill development
  • Ayres Sensory Integration assessment and therapy
  • Assessment of fine and gross motor skills, and intervention/advice to improve these, including handwriting
  • Assessment of seating and postural needs for the classroom
  • Assessing and adapting activities and the environment to support engagement for people with complex multiple physical and learning disabilities
  • Contributing to a multi-disciplinary assessment and intervention of challenging behavioural issues.

Sarah Nicholas | Occupational Therapist, Advanced Sensory Integration Therapy Practitioner (PG Dip), Cognitive Analytic Therapist, Dialectical Behavioural Therapist and Intensive Interaction Practitioner

Sarah Nicholas


Sarah qualified in 2001 and has worked in the NHS since 2003 as a Clinical Specialist Occupational Therapist in services for people with learning disabilities. She delivers high quality care, complex caseload management and therapy-programme design and execution.  Sarah is an Advanced Sensory Integration Therapy Practitioner (PG Dip), Cognitive Analytic Therapist, Dialectical Behavioural Therapist, Intensive Interaction Practitioner, and is currently training in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. Sarah is also a trainer and specialist in Relationship and Sexual Health Work for people with learning disabilities.  She delivers a wide range of therapeutic approaches to individuals and groups in the following:

  • Sensory and self-regulation advice and toolkits
  • Ayres Sensory Integration assessment and therapy
  • Standardised assessment of daily living skills (e.g. using AMPS)
  • Social Thinking and Emotional Regulations Programmes ( e.g. Zones of Regulation)
  • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy,
  • Cognitive Analytic Therapy
  • Relationships and Sexual Health Education
  • Intensive Interaction
  • Complex case formulation; as part of proactive and preventative work with people who display severe and risky behaviours.
  • Service development
  • Clinical supervision to individuals and teams.