All posts by Tania Holmes

Tania Holmes

About Tania Holmes

Tania (MA, BA (Hons), Bsc (Hons) - OT) is our Product Assistant. When she’s not supporting the product team or designing new product concepts, you will find her in the gym, camping, on her 600cc motorbike or out with friends enjoying life.

Author Spotlight – Gali Salpeter

Introducing The World of Trains by Gali Salpeter – This unique train-themed set contains 50 illustrated cards and 50 story cards, accompanied by a professional guidebook detailing suggestions for individual and group sessions.

Gali shares with us her reasoning behind developing this exciting NEW set of therapeutic cards for healthcare professionals.

How and why these are developed?

Gali Salpeter

Gali Salpeter

I am an expressive therapist (M.A.) with specialization in drama and narrative therapy. My background is in psychology, sociology and anthropology and I am always fascinated with the ways in which these fields interact. I have been fortunate enough to live in different countries and work with inspiring children, in settings of individual therapy and group therapy.

I like to travel… Each station along the path of my life has had valuable lessons to teach me. I enjoy discovering new environments, studying them and finding my own way of being and becoming along their fixed rails and wild landscapes.

I also respect the power of narratives, both those built word by word within and – the ones told by others. Narratives are carried by the wind around us and I try to open myself to listen to them.

These are the grounds from which “The world of trains” set has grown and developed. “The world of trains” set is a psychological tool designed for facilitating, enriching and supporting therapeutic work with children. The set includes a deck of projective cards and a deck of story cards, as well as a professional encompassing guidebook.

The visual and metaphorical channels of expression, combined with the verbal and imaginary channel provided by the two decks – enrich the modes of communication offered to the client and to the therapist.

The client-child can thus choose whether to express her/himself verbally, to work through a visual mode or (as often happening naturally-) to combine the two.

The projective therapeutic space provided by the theme of an imaginary world of trains, which is shared by carriages and engines of different types, enables the client to get to know issues from his own world better and to share and process them with the therapist in a safe, metaphorical arena.

It is the flow between working therapeutically in the layer of the imaginary and working in the layer of reality that adds value to the therapeutic process.

The theme of the set – a world of personified trains – was chosen as it holds images and metaphors that can easily apply to issues children cope with daily.

Why these are different from everyone else’s card resources? What is their unique selling point?

The set is a rich and useful resource which contains a deck of 50 illustrated cards, a deck of 50 story cards and a professional guidebook for therapists. Three professional tools for therapists in one kit ! As such it is unique.

The deck of projective cards contains 50 images of carriages and engines, where each card can be worked with as a single stimuli. In addition, when the child puts one card next to the other, it creates an image of a train. The train and the cards composing it can represent a situation, a place, a feeling, an event or a group of people from the client´s life.
The deck of story cards contains the beginnings of stories told by different carriages. The client can work with the story cards, either in combination with the illustrated cards or separately.

The professional guidebook describes methods for working with the cards in settings of individual therapy and group therapy. These suggestions are organized according to relevant themes, such as: relationships and groups in different areas of the child´s life, strengths, difficulties, separation, transitions, issues within a family, coping with illness or death, aggressive behavior and violence, control, fears and more.

The set is a wonderful resource that can be used by mental health professionals from different fields according to their areas of expertise.

World of TrainsTell me why you are so proud of them and how long they took to develop.

For the world of trains to develop and come to life – as with many meaningful journeys in our life – it needed time and space, involved building relationships and demanded many hours of working alone.

A couple of years of hard work went by before I managed to create the imaginary world I envisioned, a world where therapists and clients join and are enabled to embark together safely on meaningful journeys of their own…

Each illustration was carefully designed to address relevant issues that can be processed in therapy. The colors of the cards, the material, size and shape of each illustrated carriage, the relation between each carriage and its environment, as well as other objects and features in the cards, were all carefully and professionally controlled in order to address a wide area of themes and emotions. The result of these efforts will hopefully assist the clients working with the cards to deal with the issues they are dealing with.

The story cards were created one word at a time, with the goal of offering beginnings of stories that would both enable and encourage children to relate to, articulate and work with narratives from their own lives.

The numerous options of using the cards in therapy when working with children having different needs emerged in a flow of ideas stemming from my professional knowledge and experience. These suggestions for application were edited (and re-edited☺ ) to result in the broad and useful guidebook, which can stand as a valuable therapeutic resource on its own.

As in other adventures we embark on, there were obstacles along the way, stations that kept the train from moving forward or times when an engine or two had to halt or search for the right rails to follow.

Hence, when I hold the set now, with both hands… I feel and acknowledge its visual and thematic richness and the professional therapeutic value it contains. These were born and embedded in the stations and over the tracks, in the carriages and through the changing vistas of this world of trains.

I am proud of this set. I would like to believe that the future inhabitants of this world of trains, be it passengers or drivers, by-passers, clients or therapists – will benefit from exploring its landscape and find their own trails and stations along it.

Please use it with respect, responsibility and sensitivity, for with these it was created.
From the bottom of my heart and mind, I wish you a safe and fruitful journey.

Author Spotlight – Margot Sunderland

Margot May

Margot May

Would you share a little information about your professional background with us so we have some context about the origin of the resources?

I trained to be a secondary school teacher and taught for a few years. It was the hardest years of the my life. I then went on to train as a creative arts therapist and psychotherapist and become a Senior Lecturer on a Performing Arts Degree. 

I worked for 10 years in residential care homes with troubled teenagers. I saw time and time again that without call on images and imagery, the change process is slow or doesn’t work at all. with images people engage and the change process often flows in remarkable ways.

I now run a Higher Education College entitled Institute for Arts in Therapy and Education ( academic partner of University of East London) MA in Arts Psychotherapy and MA in Integrative Child Psychotherapy and lots of Child counselling courses using the arts.

Can you give us a brief overview of the Draw On Series from your perspective?
They are to support children teenagers and adults to stand back and think about their lives and make sense of and process major life events.
It is a process designed to help them to then make good choices about what they want to do with their life now and in the future, how they want to live it who they want to be, who they want to be with and what gives their life meaning. As Socrates says, “ The unexplored life is not worth living “. Without standing back you can so easily get stuck in a rut and keep making the same mistakes d

What was the inspiration, thinking or reason that prompted their development?
Because in my work with very troubled children and teenagers, straight forward conversation about feelings just often didn’t work
Using the worksheets “ what I call the third thing in the room “ was far less shaming for them and they got really interested in the psychology of relationships with self and others which is embedded in the drawings. In this sense the drawings offer psycho-education vital facts about what it means to be human
One teenager for example had never realised he was a young carer before doing the relationship page. Another found the word “ shock” on the shock page vital to understanding his painful life as he realised he had had many shocks. He then started to make sense of them, grieve and work through so the shocks stopped derailing his life . So the work sheets can be starting points, spring boards to a really meaningful conversation that otherwise would not take place

What was your main goal when you created them?
To help ease the vital process of reviewing your life and how you want to live it, and processing painful life experiences that if left unprocessed can lead to mental and physical health problems

Were they evidence-based and tested and if so, who with and when (age group, setting etc.)
Yes with various adults ( the emotion cards especially – These adults often could not stop looking at particular cards , holding them once they had identified with them )
The worksheets lots were used with teenagers in residential care and with adults, children and teenagers in private practice over years.

Do you need to be a trained, qualified and registered clinical professional to facilitate sessions using these resources?
No. You need to be able to listen really well and to empathise and feed back that you have understand what the person is saying. .Endless questions without empathy can be dangerous and people often just shut down. And it has be totally non – judgemental listening with no lectures !! But I explain the vital dos and don’ts in the books and with the emotion cards. I would always recommend say at least a short counselling course ( e.g 30 hours) but that said, some people have natural empathy.
I really liked it that the researchers for the Government Green Paper Dec 2017 Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision found that with children/ teenagers age 2-18, to quote.

“There is evidence that appropriately-trained and supported staff such as teachers, school nurses, counsellors, and teaching assistants can achieve results comparable to those achieved by trained therapists in delivering a number of interventions addressing mild to moderate mental health problems (such as anxiety, conduct disorder, substance use disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder)”

 Who can access and make the most use of these resources? (e.g. age of end user/their clinical needs/groups/individual 1-1 sessions etc.)
Yes anyone could use the book to do a self review of issues in their life. But they are best I think for practitioners who are helping people to look at their life, work through painful experiences, making life decisions
They can be used in groups, say in PSHE lesson on relationships that hurt and relationships that heal, leading to really good group discussion

There is a new edition of “Draw On Your Emotions” already available and a new version of the “Draw On Your Relationships” coming out soon. Can you explain what new content readers can look forward to in these updated volumes please?
I wrote the first editions a long time ago now. The new editions I think are far more moving, in depth, wider range of life experiences explored. The pictures also have been all re- drawn to be far clearer and often far more emotionally engaging

We are excited about the new add-on cards. Can you share with us how and why these were developed alongside the core resource?
The cards are very powerful. Of course being full colour they can engage you a really strong way. Participants find utter relief in seeing key life experiences relationship experiences and self – states ( which so often don’t get talked about ) there in front of them. The idea is that you lay out all the cards and then simply pick up the ones that really accurately represent you, your feelings, your life, your relationships. There are cards on the market but we haven’t found any that really provide the emotional depth of the cards we have made. Hence our motivation to do so. Humans don’t have little feelings, they epxeirence powerful, intense emotional states and they need these acknowledged. The cards do this.

What is really different about these books and cards compared to other resources available?
I think so many resources on emotions are a bit patronsing – particularly those for children. We don’t just feel sad, cross, frightened and happy. Even young children have complex feelings and self states that, if they are not worked through, not made sense of, can so easily lead to mental health problems.

Will you tell us more about the images used on the cards and the artist?
Nicky is a stunning artist. She trained at The Slade ( top art school ) and can capture the very essence of particular self – states in ways that when you see them on the cards, grabs your attention as they really do speak about some of the most profound feelings we humans are capable of.

Do you have any other projects up your sleeve that we can look out for in the future?
Yes DVDs on attachment play and ways of being in relationship with children and teenagers that bring about emotional change. Its the opposite of spending hours on screen time where no emotional development takes place.

Click Here to buy The Emotion Cards

Rompa Visit Autism Plus in Sheffield

Mark Whitehead (Head Designer) and I were privileged recently to attend Autism Plus in the centre of Sheffield for an afternoon. They had approached us for donations for their sensory room and we realised that there was a potential opportunity to host a fun afternoon and take photographs of people using some resources to demonstrate to customers how they can be used – much nicer than static, boring pictures with no people in them!

Autism Plus liked the sound of this so they obtained permission from all attendees and we travelled with a boot full of sensory goodies for everyone to enjoy. The theme of the afternoon was music/sound so we found age appropriate interesting resources that were mostly audible but also took along some olfactory, visual and tactile resources to give a multi sensory experience.

Autism Plus staff and clients were extremely welcoming and a great afternoon was had by all. The group used resources that they didn’t ordinarily have access to, we took a donation of drums with us as a gift which were gratefully received as well as some scented items and we came away with hundreds of photos that could be used by both organisations.

Click the image to visit the product page for that item.

Aroma Activity Game

Aroma Activity Game



Groggy Groan Tube

Groggy Groan Tube

Loopy Ball

Loopy Ball

Spectacular Rainstick

Spectacular Rainstick

Big Soft Bell Ball

Big Soft Bell Ball

Spiral Gel Activity Pad

Spiral Gel Activity Pad

Voice Responsive Dome

Voice Responsive Dome

Infinity Light Wand

Infinity Light Wand

Flashing Tambourine

Flashing Tambourine

Finger Cymbals

Finger Cymbals






































Oral Motor – A Sensory Perspective

Sensory processing and integration provides body control,

Chew Pendants

Chew Pendants

underpins all normative functioning and enables decision-making. It impacts on how we move, plan and co-ordinate our motor functioning, communicate, behave, develop and participate occupationally. A lack of regulated sensory control means people cannot engage effectively in everyday life activities. Dysfunctions in sensory processing therefore significantly impact on life quality.

Oral motor difficulties are a key current issue and we are regularly asked for more resources to help support this need (a new Oral Motor Kit will be launched in 2015 – watch this space!). Inappropriate behaviours exhibited that people can find confusing/distressing are:

  • Mouthing non-food items (chewing, licking, eating, biting, self-harming, tugging and shredding clothes/soft furnishings etc. with teeth. Rolling/spitting bits of chewed items)
  • Not being able or refusing to feed independently
  • Spitting out food/gagging when eating
  • Experiencing a very restricted diet with avoidance of certain foods.
  • Poor oral hygiene (cleaning teeth intolerance)

So, why does this happen?

Circular Chew Pendant

Circular Chew Pendant

Taking a sensory perspective, imagine you cannot understand or put into context the feelings and sensations that your body is experiencing or feeling (light/texture/smell/taste/sound). Maybe these are experienced as so overwhelmingly intense that you want to withdraw because the input is unpleasant. Sensory input may be so minimal/distant that you can’t hardly register it so you may seek greater/more extreme input to enable you to experience this. Sensory input can be experienced as painful or irritating. You may not understand what this input is, know what to do or be able to co-ordinate an appropriate response. Self-stimulatory behaviour such as chewing/biting can be a way of comforting, relieve anxiety, reduce fear and initiated to prevent sensory overload.

There may be other reasons why these behaviours occur and clinical assessments, profiling and observation will identify causal issue/s and establish clinical reasoning.

Taking the oral motor example, perhaps the individual;

  • doesn’t like the texture of what they are eating.
  • doesn’t like food going where they can’t see it.
  • has a poor chewing pattern.
  • can’t feel the food, perhaps there isn’t enough sensation to register the feelings of the food properly in the mouth and this feels unpleasant/painful or tickly.
  • has fine motor skill, visual or cognitive difficulties.

A sensory approach may include consideration of interventions such as:

  • Texture – Crunchy/harder textured food such as foods that you need to bite hard on such as apples. Food with inclusions (e.g. seeds/nuts etc)
  • Sucking & Licking – Thicker drinks though straws. Ice lolly.
  • Taste – sour, sweet, spicy
  • Vibration – electric toothbrush
  • Temperature – Experimentation with cold and hot. Using ice cubes, perhaps with just water, or perhaps a “taste” object inside or use flavoured water or juice. Try fizzy foods, popping candy.
  • Chewing – Offering safe chewing products. Chewing flavoured gum or chewy foods. We offer a variety here –
  • Blowing activities – blow feathers/paper around with straws? Blow through a straw in the bath to make bubbles. Blow raspberries. We sell blow lotto here –
  • Movement – Geurning – pulling silly faces, sticking tongue out. We have a therapy mirror here –


Romanian Retreat, Casa Harului (House of Grace)

In March 2014 an Occupational Therapist wrote a lovely letter to us asking for donations for a Mission Trip organised by the Hilton and Barn Churches based in Inverness. They were going to provide therapeutic input for disadvantaged children at a Romanian retreat, Casa Harului (House of Grace). We provided a large quantity of foam for seating adaptions, a therapy roll and staff members sent up hand-made sock monsters and toys as well as three large bags of sensory/craft materials for use during the trip.

For more information please contact team co-ordinator Mike Robertson on 01463 239 785. Read on to find out how Morven and the team got on.

Dear Tania,

On Monday 28th July, 10 children with disabilities aged 2-10 years old (either Down’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy or Autistic Spectrum Disorder) arrived at Casa Harului with their parent or grandmothers to stay for respite, whilst their children/grandchildren participated in the holiday camp programme. 18 orphaned children ranging from 12-16 years also attended with one of the Orphanages’ carers. What wonderful children they all were.

Our first day was spent meeting the children and forming relationships  with them, and helping them to settle into the holiday camp. Thereafter, there was a daily programme following the Biblical theme of “Creation”. After breakfast, some of the team played with the children and used the sensory-motor toys, which were purchased for their use, and the ones donated. The children then heard the Bible message for that day, whilst I did a teaching session daily for the parents, on different daily living activities – positioning & handling, feeding, dressing, hand function/play – and they got the opportunity to ask questions specific to their children and needs. We had a disabled adult interpreter to assist.

Following this, the kids engaged in a craft activity relating to what they had heard in the Bible teaching – we made light-reflective mobiles, clay birds/fish, “grass” heads, painted stones and added glow-in-the-dark stars & moon, animal felt puppets. All creative and sensory, and lots of fun. We also did some creative prayers e.g. thanking God for things we can see, hear, feel, taste and smell. After lunch I spent time with parents/grandparents identifying ways I could help their children with sitting, feeding and providing activities for visual impairment. I adapted some pushchairs and wheelchairs to provide better support using high density foam that was donated, and using strapping and buckles or sew-on Velcro. The afternoon session was a general craft. The children decorated bags, T-shirts, we did face painting and we did sensory stations (feely boxes, shaving foam & paint, glittery play dough, made “smelly” tissue paper flowers, made peppermint & orange fondant creams, feely bowls with rice/sand). After dinner we had time to worship together, some children even did some solo singing and played instruments – they were awesome!

It was overall a wonderful “family” atmosphere, much love was shared, lots of joy was seen, and the place and setting was so full of peace. On the last day the children and leaders made a large collage together depicting the days of creation. It was colourful, full of texture and very creative!

It was hard to say goodbye to the children and parents/grandmothers on Sunday 3rd August, as we had got close to over the space of a week. They were thankful for the help and love received. Never before had they received such acceptance, practical help or been equipped to deal with their children before. It was a blessing for them and for all the team. We handed over to Barn Church team for the second week of mission. They would be greeting another group of disabled children attending the camp for a week on the Monday as we left to return home. All the large items donated were left at Casa Harului for others to get the benefit from. Some of the purchased items I got from Rompa were issued to parents to take home for their children – tactile toys, scissors, pencil grips – the rest of the items were donated to Casa Harului. I made up a feely bag for one boy with cerebral palsy and severe visual impairment to play tactile games with, he and his mother were delighted.

All the crafts the children made were put in the bags they decorated, and a “Nessie” keyring, Haribo sweets and a sock monster were added They took their goodie bag home with them when they departed from the camp. I saw some of the little ones holding their sock monsters in their hands as they drove away!

Some of these children have never had a holiday before, nor have they had so much stimulation and fun during the school holidays, so it was a blessing to give them that, with all our fundraising. All the crafts the children made were put in the bags they decorated, and a “Nessie” keyring, Haribo sweets and a sock monster were added They took their goodie bag home with them when they departed from the camp. I saw some of the little ones holding their sock monsters in their hands as they drove away!

It was truly wonderful to be part of the team, and it would not have been as special, without your generous and useful donations. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  We really appreciate your support.

Kind regards,

Morven Ball  & Hilton & Barn Church Youth mission teams (Inverness)

COT Annual Conference in Brighton

Well, a couple of weeks have passed by but I thought I’d reflect on the Occupational Therapy Conference at Brighton. It was my first time there and I was really excited to meet other OT’s and ROMPA said I could attend some of the talks too.

Before the event, our Business Development Team kindly asked me what products I’d like to showcase. I had a good think and wanted OT’s to realise that ROMPA and Winslow compliment each other and that our resources are versatile. I picked a variety of items for rehab, older adults, sensory and mental health practice.

COT Annual Conference in Brighton

COT Annual Conference in Brighton

Sven, Mark and I soon had the stand set up. The guys left the layout of the products to me –I felt like a child in a chocolate shop. The event opened with free drinks and the stand was overwhelmed with Occupational Therapists from all walks of life. They shared their thoughts on the products showcased, ideas for new ones, some wanted advice on products, others picked up brochures and some lovely people just stopped by for a chat.

Days two and three were frankly a blur of activity. I manned the stand, found new potential products from other exhibitors, saw happy familiar faces from Coventry and Derby Universities and met new people from the COT.

COT Annual Conference in Brighton

Products for the COT Annual Conference

I attended the plenary by Candice (Kings Fund) which gave me food for thought about where our profession was going and contributed in a small way to the SI debate that ROMPA sponsored which was held with Lesley Collier (University of Southampton), Gemma Cartwright (Sensory Integration Network) & Dido Green (Oxford Brooks University), Sharon Tuppeny (Freelance OT). The posters served to showcase current occupational therapy needs, issues, ideas and studies from across the globe (sponsored by ROMPA) and I was surprised at the breadth of topics included – go OT’s go!

Hope I get picked to go next year…