Side by Side Therapy

Integrative play and creative therapy for children and families

Welcome to Side by Side Therapy


At Side by Side Therapy we specialise in integrative play and creative therapy for children and families. We work with children of all ages and abilities, offering a unique approach that combines evidence-based practices with the joy and spontaneity of play. We believe that therapy should not only be effective but also engaging and as enjoyable as possible, a place where children and families can laugh, learn, heal and grow. We are dedicated to fostering a supportive and inclusive environment where every child and family feels valued, respected, and heard.


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Meet the Team

Anita Franklin


Hi, I’m Anita!

I’m a passionate and experienced accredited mental health social worker and clinical play therapist. I have over two decades of experience using play and creative arts therapeutically to help children and families heal and grow. I specialise in working with complexity and clients with co-occuring conditions, such as mental health or attachment challenges and disability. I have a down-to-earth, playful yet professional approach, and advanced post graduate training in multiple evidence-based therapeutic interventions.


  • Master of Social Work, Flinders University
  • Bachelor of Social Sciences, University of Canberra
  • Diploma of Clinical Hypnotherapy and Strategic Psychotherapy, Institute of Applied Psychology
  • Advanced Diploma in Biomedical Yoga, Meditation and Lifestyle Medicine, Biomedical Institute of Yoga and Meditation
  • Diploma of Psychological Therapies, The Association for Psychological Therapies (UK)

Currently studying:

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Flinders University, SA
  • Master of Neuroscience, The University of New England, NSW
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Lia Jordan


Hi, I’m Lia!

I am  passionate about wellbeing in all areas of life. Working for over 15 years in primary school education and 10 years in wellbeing, helping young people achieve mental, emotional, and physical balance in life with the support of their family is the foundation my practice. I specialise in holistic, fun, engaging and supportive methods to build capacity and understanding of self. I enjoy working with young people and their families to connect, grow and heal together. I have significant experience providing parent support and psychoeducation in the areas of emotional regulation, educational and behaviour support.


  • Bachelor of Education (Junior Primary/ Primary), Flinders University, SA
  • Bachelor of Arts, Flinders University, SA

Advanced training:

  • Circle of Security Parenting Facilitator
  • The Zones of Regulation
  • What's the Buzz?

Currently studying:

  • Certificate in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, (CBT)
  • AutPlay® Therapy
  • Certificate of Play and Art Therapy

Amelia Clark


Hi, I’m Amelia!

I’m excited to be part of the Side by Side team. I’m currently studying a Bachelor of Allied Health at Flinders University. I did my placement at Side by Side and liked it so much, wanted to stay! In addition to my work at Side by Side, I currently teach children dance and am looking forward to working with children more therapeutically at Side by Side. I am completing professional development and studies in play and creative therapy. 

I am an avid dancer and I still compete in dance competitions across Australia. My favourite game at Side by Side is Headbandz and my favourite thing in the playroom is the toy kitchen and food. Outside of work, I like to dance, eat pizza and spend time outside.



  • Certificate III in Assistant Dance Teaching, Australian Teachers of Dancing

Currently studying:

  • AutPlay® Therapy
  • Certificate of Play and Art Therapy
  • Certificate IV in Dance Teaching and Management, Australian Teachers of Dancing
  • Bachelor of Allied Health, Flinders University, SA

At Side by Side Therapy, we value:

inclusivity, holistic care, continuous learning, authentic connection, and empowerment … and we enjoy some fun and silliness, too.

See more about Side by Side Therapy's values here.

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I’m passionate about using play to build genuine connections and support early intervention, empowerment, healing and growth.

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Anita Franklin,
Founder of Side By Side Therapy

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Continuous Learning

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Authentic Connection

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But most of all...

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Work with Us


Side by Side Therapy offers integrative play and creative therapy options for children from two years old, education and skill development, workshops, consultations and supervision, well as support for parents and caregivers.

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Side by Side Therapy does not provide crisis support. If you are experiencing a life-threatening situation call 000, or for crisis support call Lifeline 13 11 14.

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Play Therapy

Our play therapy is for children aged two and above. We provide needs-based, integrative, humanistic and client-centred play therapy.

Side by Side offers integrative play and creative therapy services tailored for children from two years old. Our therapeutic approach is founded on integrative, humanistic, client, and family-centred principles. We are dedicated to providing culturally sensitive, diversity-affirming, neuroaffirming, trauma-informed, and responsive care to all clients and families.

We specialise in purposefully combining evidence-based interventions, such as play therapy, with games, and creative arts-based therapeutic modalities to facilitate growth, early intervention, and healing in children. Our approach emphasises the importance of addressing underlying causes of challenging behaviours through play therapy and Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS). By integrating these evidence-based practices, we aim to promote emotional regulation, increase positive interactions, and enhance overall well-being in children and families.

Through integrative play and creative therapy, we create a safe and supportive environment where children can express themselves, explore their emotions, and develop coping skills. By fostering a collaborative approach to addressing challenges, we empower children and families to work together towards positive outcomes and lasting change.

We are committed to supporting children in various aspects of their development, including:

  • Strengthening independence and resilience.
  • Helping children manage anxiety and develop coping strategies for anxiety-related behaviours.
  • Promoting social engagement and fostering relationships with peers.
  • Supporting emotional and sensory regulation and processing.
  • Encouraging self-exploration and embracing identity.
  • Assisting children in navigating life transitions.
  • Identifying and nurturing individual strengths.
  • Guiding children through challenging emotions and fears of failure.
  • Addressing and managing behaviours of concern and challenging behaviours.
  • Cultivating healthy self-esteem and self-awareness.
  • Enhancing communication skills.
  • Facilitating healing and processing of trauma.

Through play, curiosity, empathy, and attunement, we provide support to parents or caregivers in building healthy, secure attachments with their children.

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Education and Skill Development

At Side by Side Therapy, we believe in empowering children and their families through targeted capacity building and skill development. Our approach is rooted in understanding each child's unique needs and creating an enriching environment that promotes lifelong learning and personal growth.

Our team employs evidence-based techniques, ensuring that each child makes meaningful progress tailored to their individual pace and style. Through the delivery of specialist services, we collaborate to help children and families achieve their capacity building and wellbeing goals. Our specialised programmes are carefully crafted to nurture essential life skills in children.

We focus on key areas to build capacity and increase skills in areas such as:

Enhancing Communication Skills

Facilitating Emotional Expression

Increasing Social Interaction Skills

Improving Cognitive Skills

Developing Self-Awareness and Self-Esteem

Increasing Overall Wellbeing

Managing Challenging Behaviours and Symptoms

Problem Solving for Daily Life

Assisting with Transitions

Building Independence

Through our comprehensive capacity building and skill development programmes, Side by Side aims to lay a solid foundation for children to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally, preparing them for a successful future.

At Side  by Side, we work with people, not labels. We are committed to being neuroaffirming, trauma-informed, and culturally sensitive, working with each child and family as individuals, meeting them where they are, and having as much fun as possible at the same time.

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Side by Side periodically offers low-cost workshops for the community. These workshops are small, hands-on and practical, and include take-home resources. Upcoming workshops for term three include:

Play for Parents: Engaging Your Child Through Play
Engaging children through play to strengthen parent-child bonds, encourage emotional processing and motor development.

Demystifying NDIS: Navigating the System with Confidence
Understanding and navigating the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

My Child is Neurodivergent, Now What?
Guidance and strategies for parents of neurodivergent children, with a focus on parenting Autistic children and/or children with ADHD.

Teen Time: Navigating Autism in Adolescence
Learn practical strategies to support and empower your autistic teen through the unique challenges and transitions of adolescence.

PDA Parenting: Strategies for Success
Parenting strategies for children with Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA).

Calm Kids: Strategies for Easing Anxiety
Techniques to help children manage and reduce anxiety.

Sibling Shenanigans: Turning Rivalry into Fun
Managing and reducing sibling rivalry through fun activities.

Growing with ADHD: Empowering Your Child
Parenting strategies for children with ADHD.


Side by Side Therapy also offers workshops for teachers, schools and other professionals at Side by Side or off-site at schools or organisations on request.

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Side by Side Therapy offers individualised, one-on-one support for parents and carers. We approach support sessions with empathy and curiosity, aiming to provide support that is practical and specific. These sessions can be regular or as needed.

Side by Side also offers a private, safe and welcoming space for carer and parent support group sessions. These can be facilitated with topics for discussion, casual for coffee and connection, or a mixture of both. We welcome child-free or child in attendance, or we can arrange on-site child-minding during support sessions on request. Sessions are participant-led so parents can bring questions or just come and connect with other parents. It is not necessary to be a client of Side by Side to attend.

We currently have several free parent/carer groups running, including those for support and connection, facilitated discussions and information sessions, and those just for parents/carers to catch up over a cuppa.

Side by Side Therapy also offers workshops for parents or carers on request.

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Anita is able to conduct a variety of play and other assessments for children. She is able to complete functional capacity assessments, adaptive behaviour assessments, psychosocial assessments, assessments of play, and other assessments within her scope and training. These report can be used for NDIS evidence, school support or intervention recommendations.

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Supervision & Consultation

Anita offers clinical supervision and consultations for social workers, counsellors, allied health professionals, and play therapists. She is a member of the Australian Clinical Supervision Association, and has completed advanced training in supervision for mental health practitioners through the Australian Association of Social Workers.

We’re different

As a therapy practice, Side by Side Therapy is unique.

We understand that attending therapy is hard for some people, and we will work hard to make you feel safe. Here are some of the things you can expect from working with the Side by Side team:

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We try to have as much fun as we can at work, and we encourage our clients to be open to enjoying therapy and celebrate the wins along the way.

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We practice integrative therapy, which is needs-based, so looks and feels different for everyone, and respects clients’ voices, pace, wants and needs.

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We focus on strengths, building our clients’ resilience, and collaboratively finding ways to meet unmet needs and teach lagging skills.

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We are able to work with multiple funding options, plan and self managed NDIS, Medicare, Open Arms Veteran Affairs, Child Protection, and some health funds.

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Get in touch to schedule an Appointment


Exploring child and family therapy options can be overwhelming. Please see below to answer some of the most commonly asked questions and see if Side by Side might be a good fit.

Get in touch

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We value self care! We don't over-schedule, we value our lunch breaks, have regular clinical supervision and case consultations, and value our downtime so we are at our best for our clients and ourselves.

We aim to get back to you within two business days.

Side by Side is based in Mount Gambier, where we see clients in a comfortable and relaxing environment. At Side by Side, you will always be welcomed with a cuppa or hot chocolate (with marshmallows!), and plenty of fidgets.

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Side by Side Therapy

The Convent
Offices 14-20 (Jardine Street entrance)
20 Penola Road, Mount Gambier

Phone: 0401 550 722

We have off-street parking, including wheelchair parking, and full wheelchair/pram access.

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