Leanne Dijkstra-de Neijs

I’m Leanne Dijkstra-de Neijs from the Netherlands. That is where I got my down to earth work ethos. But I’m also Indonesian, which is where I got my strong family orientated bonds. Originally I schooled to be a nurse. During my last nursing internships at a children’s home I learned that there was so much I did not know yet, so I decided to continue my studies at the Radboud University Nijmegen to become a child psychologist. After working with children for several years it dawned on me how strangely it was to be mostly talking to them and through that expecting that things would get better. When knowing that play is children’s natural language. So, I went back to the University to learn about playtherapy. This was an immediate fit for me and my view at therapy for children. A few years later I was given the opportunity to transfer to an expertise center for autism within my company. Here I learned so much more on systemic working and parent-child relation/interaction problems due to underlying classifications. Soon, individual playtherapy was not enough to my experience within this environment. That’s when I got introduced to Theraplay. And although Theraplay is not specifically indicated for families with ASD, it originated from it in its early days. Practice based we saw huge positive changes between children with ASD and their parents. Seeing and hearing each other better, connecting in a more nurturing way and enjoying each others company again instead of just surviving through the days. We were so enthusiastic about these results and wanted to share our findings with others. But to do so, they needed to be reliable. That’s where my ongoing PhD trajectory originated. As can be read, I love to learn, but I also love learning as an activity on itself. This is why I became a Theraplay trainer and supervisor. Through the above, I hope to contribute in a small way to a warm and engaged world which, in my opinion starts in every individual familie.

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