About us

Who are we?

Active Play Therapies was set up in 2014 by Anna with an OT colleague 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 and assistants who are experienced and trained in a range of areas, including sensory integration, neurodevelopmental conditions (autism, ADHD, DCD/ dyspraxia) and restricted eating.

Our Therapists

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



Anna graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Occupational Therapy in 2008. She specialises in working with autistic children and young people, having spent her career working in related children’s and adult services. Anna is an Advanced SI Practitioner and freelances for Sensory Integration Education, the national body that trains therapists in Sensory Integration.

Anna believes that play is the primary occupation of children, 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 have self-restricted diets and works with parents and their children to increase the range of foods they feel comfortable to 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
    • SOS Picky Eaters vs Problem Feeders for children struggling to eat a range of foods
    • Skill development for daily living
    • Ayres Sensory Integration (ASI therapy)
    • Sensory based therapy

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.

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

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.

Dr Tanya Godwin | Clinical Psychologist and CBT Therapist

Dr Tanya Godwin


Tanya is a Clinical Psychologist and CBT therapist with accreditation by the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP). She is also trained to foundation level in Systemic Therapy.

She has 12 years experience working across a number of different health and mental health settings, including private, voluntary and the NHS. She has experience of providing psychological assessment and therapy to people with a range of psychological and cognitive difficulties including depression, anxiety disorders (including OCD), PTSD, complex PTSD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, learning disability and dementia. Tanya has experience working therapeutically with autistic children and adults and is able to adapt her therapeutic approach to suit the needs of the individual or family she is working with.

Tanya is passionate about providing the highest level of care and service to the people she works with and prides herself on building positive therapeutic relationships with every individual and family that she sees. Tanya is happy to work with any age group and can provide the following services:

– Comprehensive psychological assessment

– Detailed psychological formulation

– Psychometric assessment

– Indirect psychological consultation and formulation around an individual and/or their system

– Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

– Systemically informed family or individual work

– Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)

– Third wave CBT approaches such as Compassion Focused Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Warren Sandells | Occupational Therapist and SI Practitioner



Warren has over 20 years’ experience working with children and young people. He qualified in 2000 with a BSc (Hons) OT and has been awarded an MSc in ‘Management of Childhood Disabilities’. He has extensive graduate training including sensory integration and is a qualified SI practitioner (PG Cert). 

For the last 10 years he has been the lead paediatric therapist in an NHS trust for a team of occupational therapists and physiotherapists.

 Warren has delivered specialist therapy in hospital, home, community, pre-school, and school settings. This includes mainstream and special schools. He has extensive experience working with children aged from 0-19 years with a broad range of childhood conditions including neurological, neuromuscular, developmental, and genetic conditions (including Cerebral Palsy, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Global Developmental Delay, Autism and Developmental Coordination Disorder).

 He is trained to administer a number of a number of standardised assessments such as the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development (3rd edition).

 Warren is able to provide interventions including:

·         Assessment of seating and postural needs

·         Environment adaptation (home and school)

·         Assessment of motor skills and coordination- including advice and intervention (e.g. self-care, handwriting, bike riding)

·         Assessment of activities of daily living (e.g. dressing, washing, eating, play)

·         Interventions for daily skill development

·         Ayres Sensory Integration assessment and therapy

·         Contributing to MDT assessments.

·         Writing reports as part of the EHCP process


Nancy Buttling | Occupational Therapist and SI Practitioner

Nancy is an Occupational Therapist with 20 years’ experience.  She had always wanted to work with children, so it was not long after her training at Southampton University that she sought her first role in Paediatrics. 

Nancy currently work at a special school in Poole, which has allowed her to practice her skills in Sensory Integration and behaviours that challenge, which she finds thoroughly absorbing.  Nancy has extensive experience in supporting children with developmental disabilities, neurodiverse conditions, neurological and neuromuscular conditions and intellectual disability.  This is both within mainstream and special schools.

Nancy recently achieved a Post Graduate Certificate in Sensory Integration which is a particular interest of hers along with integrating play into treatment.  She’s passionate about knowing what is important to the children and families she works with and supporting them in developing independence and managing challenges to daily activity. 

Carol Richards | OT Assistant


Carol graduated with an MSc in Phycology in 1994.  On completion of her studies, she continued to work at the University supporting disadvantaged students to gain the skills to be successful in their studies.  Carol then went on to work with pre-school children as their keyworker supporting them in their ‘Early Years’ developmental stages.

In the last 12 Years Carol has worked with neurodiverse children within a primary school setting and has a good understanding of the challenges for these children in this environment.  She supported these students in their learning by adapting not only the work but also the environment in which they worked.  Carol also co-ordinated the sensory integration needs for the students within the school, which involved giving student different types and multiple opportunities during the day to regulate themselves.  In addition to the sensory needs Carol supported students as a pastoral carer to students who were experiencing anxiety, self-esteem challenges and attachment difficulties.

Carol now works alongside the occupational therapists at Active Play Therapies to:

  • Implement OT programmes and emotional regulation work
  • Advise on and run sensory circuits
  • Build rapport with children who otherwise find it difficult to engage in a more formal assessment process