Interview with author and Play Therapist, Sarah Allen from Johannesburg, South Africa
I am so glad to have you in my Author Spotlight this month, Sarah. Why don’t you tell our readers a little about yourself and your work.
My name is Sarah Allen, I am 38 years old – a qualified Occupational Therapist and now Play Therapist. I have worked across a number of specialties, but I now specialize in working with younger children, 2-years old, mainly, particularly those who have experienced trauma/abuse and/or those who need help with social and emotional development. I am originally from the U.K. but have lived in Johannesburg, South Africa for the last 8 years volunteering in underprivileged communities. I have a passion for emotional development. I run workshop and training for educators, caregivers, and therapist. I have also developed a number of resources based around my work including books, flashcards, and boardgames. I have 3 dogs (Cavaliers) and I love chocolate
I am very glad that you’ve decided to grace us with your time. You seem to have a very challenging, yet noble and rewarding job. I love that you have developed your own resources base on the line of work you’re in to help children. Tell us more about your book and other resources you’ve created and what inspired you to write and create them?
I am from the U.K. and when I saw how few resources we have to meet the needs of the children I was working with here, I decided to create my own. Originally for my own practice (as I’d brought some from the U.K. but the kids couldn’t connect to them here) but then it developed as more people saw the books and flashcards and wanted them, so I decided to start producing more. As I grew in confidence, my passion and creativity also grew to create new and innovative products to meet the needs of parents, therapists, educators and children across this country and worldwide.
I have spent hours working with the children and learning about issues/feelings/emotions that affect them and have created resources to meet their needs. They are also multi ethnic which many products currently in the social and emotional sector currently are not. My products are always used and tested by a range of South African and English kids to ensure that they work in different contexts.
What an inspiration indeed! I love that you were aware of the children’s needs in your community, but you did not stop there, you took the initiative to do something about it, that’s wonderful! What was the hardest part about creating your visual aids and writing your book?
The hardest part was having zero confidence in myself as an author/illustrator when I wrote this book. I would even hide it away from other people and only use it with the kids because I was worried that adults would think it’s silly or the illustrations are not good enough.
I can relate with that! Sometimes our fears can hold us back from creating something valuable. I’m glad you followed your passion. I’m sure the children are, too! What was the most exciting part of the process?
For me, one of the most nerve wracking but ultimately most exciting parts was when we took it into a preschool for the first time and read it to the kids. I was petrified because as we all know, kids can be brutal! However, I was so thrilled when the teacher reached the end of the book, all the kids clapped and they asked the teacher if they could read it again in their story time tomorrow because they enjoyed it so much. When I see kids faces light up as we read and discuss it and learning new things about them promoted by the book, that is the most exciting part and then I feel proud and know it’s been worth all the blood, sweat and tears 🙂
That must have been an amazing and unforgettable experience! Was your book/work inspired by someone?
The book was totally inspired by and created for the kids I work with. They face incredible challenges with such resilience and cheerfulness, despite the trauma or poverty or pain they have endured.
I love it! I can almost feel your passion for your work, and for the kids you work with. Do you have a favorite part of the book, a dialogue perhaps?
I love the parts that we can act out with the kids. There is a line in the book that says ‘Sometimes I want to scream as loudly as I can’ I count to 3 and the kids have to scream louder than me…it’s a lot of fun. Or ‘Sometimes I feel silly’ and we have to all pull our silliest faces.
That’s amazing! I could almost hear the kids’ laughter and see their silly faces! I’m sure the kids are blessed to have someone like you in their lives. We need more creative people like you.
As a writer, do you have any advice you’d like to share with those who would like to become a writer someday?
Follow your passion and what you know. My passion and knowledge base is around emotional development and trauma so that is the field I write in and for.
Great advice! Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers before we sign off?
I would like to thank you, Jennifer, for your encouragement and confidence boost in loving my book and writing this blog about it. I would like to encourage everyone out there to follow your passion, don’t let your lack of confidence stand in the way of following your dreams. Find your mission, your passion, and pursue it with everything you’ve got! We only have one life, so let’s live it!
Well said! Thank you so much for following your dreams and blessing the children in your community. I appreciate your time for stopping by at Empowering Stories and sharing your journey.
Check out Sarah’s books and resources @
If you would like to be featured on Empowering Stories Blog Page and my other social media, please head on to the contact page on this website and send me a quick email. I would love to hear your empowering stories!