The idea of spending five days in a paradise location (and possibly making it a tax-deductible business expense) sounds like a no-brainer, right?  But, many people hesitate before booking a retreat-style conference experience for a variety of reasons.  

You might think that the number one reason would be COST.  Of course, it might feel unrealistically expensive to travel to somewhere exotic for a conference.  

But, in my experience, the biggest hang-up for people deciding whether or not to attend a retreat style conference is MINDSET.

There is an underlying mindset in many clinicians that this is “too luxurious” and “they don’t deserve it.”   Maybe when I’m more established, they think.   It’s going to be too expensive with the airfare, and the hotel and the days away from my practice.

Or, maybe they have fears.  Traveling a long way from home (either solo or with your family) presents a special set of challenges.  You may have a child with special needs and fear that the disruption to the routine is going to be too much.  You might be afraid to fly (or travel alone). What if something goes wrong? 

And then there are those that worry that this is just a big excuse for a grand vacation and there is no real learning taking place.  Sure, it sounds fabulous, but isn’t everyone just saying they are going to a conference and actually lounging at the pool. Is any real work getting done? 

Let me tell you why I think that a retreat style play therapy training is exactly what you need in your life.  

3 Reasons to Attend A Play Therapy Retreat





It takes courage to book a retreat style conference.  Whether you are attending solo or bringing you family, you are basically sending a message to yourself, your family and your clients that you are worthy of spending a whole week focused only on you.  

In a world where “busy” is a sign of success, the idea that you are going to take a week away and NOT cram in as many continuing education credits as possible takes courage.  

People are more likely to do courageous things while they are on vacation.  So, once you get there, you might find yourself trying new foods, talking to new people, doing new things and just challenging your overall perspective.  The “not knowing” exactly how everything is going to go is part of the excitement, but also requires a lot of courage. 

In the 2019 Play Therapy Retreat, participants did very courageous things outside of the training (like skydiving and ziplining), but they also did courageous things IN the training (like sharing personal vulnerability through expressive arts and sand tray activities). The smaller and more intimate venue allows participants to feel more courageous in their small group discussions.  

I believe the combination of time spent challenging yourself intellectually inside the training along with the time spent playing outside of the training gives you the best chance to integrate the feelings of courage and bravery  into your life. 


A retreat style play therapy  training offers you the opportunity to form connections.  Most trainings are limited to a small group (the Hawaii retreat is limited to 40 participants).  This allows you a chance to really connect with other participants, but it’s not so small that you feel like you are “on the spot” all the time.  

During our small group activities, you have an opportunity to discuss material and process experientials with just 5-6 other people.  In larger group activities, you can compare your experiences and have a chance to ask questions that deepen your knowledge. 

Last year, these connections helped participants brainstorm ways to bring their things they learned back into their practices at home.  In the down-time at the 2019 Hawaii retreat, participants found themselves having in-depth conversations about the material that was presented that morning.  And because many participants bring their families, they found that they could also put what they learned into practice by spending time connecting with their loved ones (or with themselves) and experiencing what regulation and attachment could really feel like. 

The connection to the environment was another huge piece.  Studying how the nervous system works and how our attachments to self and others first takes place in the classroom.  And then, later that day, it takes place in nature -as we listen to the sounds of the ocean and are mindfully aware of our relationships in the world and with those around us. 


The integration of challenging intellectual information (we are studying neuroscience and attachment theory) is combined with practical hands-on learning in this type of environment.  But, typically a retreat style conference means you get a deeper look at the information; more access to the presenters; and often material that isn’t available in other places. For example, Clair Mellenthin and Lisa Dion travel the world teaching play therapy, but they’ve only presented together in Hawaii.  And something really special happens when you get people like that together in one classroom.  The integrated experiences of these presenters and the participants comes from having a shared, incredibly courageous experience that I think everyone should get the chance to experience.

And that is why we are pleased to offer you the opportunity to come to Kona, Hawaii in June 2020 for just this type of experience.  You can find all of the details here.  

Your experience starts as soon as you register when you are invited to join our Private Facebook group. Here, you start to meet your fellow participants and get to know your new friends over the next few months.  We will be sharing reading lists that will help you get ready and building a shared sense of the courage that it takes to do something amazing.  Yes, we also plan excursions and talk about the details of your itinerary, but after you leave, we have found that this little community works together to remind each other of what we learned during our five days.  

About the Author Jen Taylor

Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at

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