Category Archives for "Professionals"

Oct 11

I attended the National APT Play Therapy Conference for the first time…this is what it was like for me

By Jen Taylor | Play Therapy , Professionals

Phoenix, AZ APT Conference

 My Love for the Annual Play Therapy Conference (in GIF's)

I'm embarrassed to admit that I have been a Registered Play Therapist for almost ten years and have never been able to attend the biggest play therapy conference in the country...until 2018.

This conference is hosted by the Association for Play Therapy, the place to start for all things play therapy related. This year the annual conference was located in Phoenix, Arizona and brought a crowd of about 1100 mental health professionals and clinicians.  

It was one of the most fun professional experiences of my life.

 *Please note, that I do not represent or speak for the Association for Play Therapy, or any of its members in any official capacity. This blog reflects my personal experience and is designed to communicate how much fun I had at the conference.  I have nothing but love and respect for this community!

Check out my experience in GIF form...

Continue reading
Aug 03

Finding a Play Therapy Supervisor- Part 1

By Kristyn Buchanan | Play Therapy , Professionals

What should we look for in a Play Therapist Supervisor? Where does one find a Play Therapy Supervisor? Welcome back Kamini Verma, LCSW, as she takes you on her journey in choosing a Play Therapy Supervisor in this 2 part blog series!


Part One

Once I made the decision to become a registered play therapist (RPT), I needed to find a supervisor. Reviewing the requirements on the Association for Play Therapy (APT) website was the first step. I felt I knew the basics of how to identify a good match for myself, until I started looking. I had been through picking a supervisor before, as many of you probably have, when I worked on my clinical license. Until 2020, I could use any LCSW supervisor (or LPC, if that is your license) to obtain my RPT license. Yet, I knew I wanted to utilize a registered play therapist-supervisor (RPT-S.) If I was going to hone in on this skill I wanted to be guided by someone else that had done this work as well!

I Must Do Supervision Again?!?

At first, I had to get over some personal resistance. I enjoy going to trainings and learning new techniques, modalities, and interventions as much as the next person, but having specific requirements and extra time commitments seemed daunting… and a little annoying. I had to think long and hard about how I wanted to develop my skills and myself to make this commitment. The more I thought about it the more I recognized the joy I had when implementing play therapy techniques in my practice. This was what was calling me. Once that lightbulb went off the time and financial commitment did not seem as daunting!

What is Required?

The supervision for my LSCW clinical license had to take place in person, either in a group or individual sessions. I assumed this would be the case for my RPT. I was wrong! With the technology of today I was excited to see that “distance supervision” was an option. Distance supervision meant that I could use secure video chat or phone consultation to count towards my supervision hours.

The time commitment was also an issue. You may have more than one supervisor, according to the rules at the time of this blog, but you must track carefully how many hours you get from each one. (Again, I recommend checking the Association for Play Therapy (APT) website to ensure you are up to date on the requirements.)

What Do I Even Want in A Supervisor?

As I began my search, I looked locally and for those who shared my clinical interests. Initially, I thought the path of least resistance was the best option for me. I was looking for someone close by and with the exact same interests as me. The first person I reached out to was clearly not interested in me as a person who wanted to learn, focusing more on how I could accommodate their needs, modality of supervision and pricing. I wanted to be mentored by someone who saw the value I already had and wanted to join me in expanding my skills with the certification. Secondly, I had to consider my work schedule and budget. Understandably, not many supervisors want to work evenings and weekends, unless that is already their practice schedule! I also realized I was in a bit of a unique situation given the set-up of my workplace; so, I sought someone who had knowledge of initiating play therapy practice where it did not exist, as well as someone who had experience being creative in how they built their playroom. Thirdly, I personally wanted to connect with someone in person as it felt more familiar.

Now that I had my checklist, it was time to start the search!

The Investigation

Find a registry of play therapy supervisors. Per usual, the APT website is the first stop. You could also look at your local university to connect with professors or find a professional organization. Likely, your area has a local chapter of play therapists who have the certification and those who use play in their practices. Go to their website and peruse their directory. This is what I did.

Unfortunately, you may run into a few issues. There may not be a website or it is not up to date. If you run into this problem, stop and take a breath! The site is likely run by a local practitioner, like you, who is trying to balance their professional and personal life. Just start calling who you can find. If they cannot help you, they will likely know who can!

Implementing the Findings

Okay, I admit it. I did not call the supervisors I found listed. I am an introvert. Cold calling scares me. Networking is not my forte. Well, I am lucky! My state’s play therapy chapter conference is held in my town. What better place to connect with other play therapists and play therapy supervisors? While at the conference I visited each chapter’s recruitment table, chatted with my table mates at lunch (while sweating bullets from pushing out of my comfort zone), and looked at the conference registry log to find supervisors. This allowed me to feel out the “vibe” of each supervisor, learn about their practice technique, and explore how they hold supervision.

Developing the Relationship

Joining with another person to mentor you is a special relationship. You should be trusted by your supervisor to move forward on your path of learning. You must trust your supervisor to know what they are talking about as you will be using it as a cornerstone of your practice! Accepting and giving feedback to each other is essential, and often hard to take in. If you do not feel connected to each other neither of you will be open to learning from each other and being challenged. Many supervisors I encountered asked for a phone or in person consultation to explore if the two of us would be a fit. I found this to invaluable to forming the connection and ensuring we could meet each other’s needs.

Decision Time!

I had gathered the data, made the connections, and identified my needs. Now, it was time to decide and connect with the supervisor I felt was the best fit for me. Stay tuned for how it all played out in Part Two!



Kamini Verma, LCSW

Ms. Verma is a therapist in Texas that is passionate about assisting children and their families through periods of healing, development and growth. She has 10+ years of experience working with children, adolescents and their families on topics related to healing from trauma and abuse, crisis intervention, creating home stability, adoption, attachment, grief and loss, mindfulness and questions of sexuality. Kamini is a Trust Based Relational Intervention ® Certified Educator. She enjoys crafting, cookie decorating and spending time with loved ones in between pursuing her Registered Play Therapist certification.



Apr 06

My Mom Is A Play Therapist

By Jen Taylor | Kids 5-12 , Professionals

Let’s welcome back our guest blogger Theresa Fraser as she interviews an accomplished adolescent and how her mother’s profession has impacted her outlook on life!


I had the pleasure of interviewing the daughter of a colleague. I need to add that this colleague and I have been distance friends for over 7 years and our common passion began with sandtray therapy.  We live in two different countries and only met face to face a month ago when we both had the pleasure of presenting together at the Expressive Arts Summit in NYC. We were on Broadway together but it felt like we had spent lots of time together before.

Over the years we have talked about our children and mused that there has not been much written nor  presented on the view of the clinician from their child’s perspective. Some might think that the life of a play therapist’s child is full of fun and the powers of play. Many of the children that I have talked to agree that they have parents who are fun but also that they have parents whom help them to see the world in a different way.

Introducing Gabby Van Hollander

I interviewed Gabby Van Hollander.  She is a lively young adult in high school in the state of Pennsylvania. She is an amazing photographer. She is well spoken and confident and she presented as being at ease as soon as we began our phone interview. She talked about her college choices and her hope that she will get an acceptance package from her first choice soon.

I then asked her about other activities. Not only is she successful in school but has been part of a community group entitled: buildOn. This non-profit group ( believes that “education is a basic right and recognizes that children who live in poverty are the least likely to attend school,” (  Ms. Van Hollander has traveled with a youth team to Haiti to assist in building schools. She is currently fundraising to participate in a similar trip to Nicaragua (  Additionally, she is engaged in weekend events such as helping the homeless, often packaging and delivering foods for a local Jewish Relief Agency, park clean ups, as well as helping out at other community events, etc. Helping others is a lifetime value.

Adolescent Struggles

We then talked about issues that may be impacting her peers currently.  Ms. Van Hollander attends an AP school, which has undergraduate courses that are managed by the College Board.  Students complete the curriculum, take an exam and then obtain dual high school/college credit. Ms. Van Hollander identified that she is aware how stressed some of her peers are. They feel pressure to be successful in all that is required to get into college however, given it is their final year, Ms. Van Hollander indicated that she believes peers are recognizing that in their final year they need to have some fun too.

It was clear that Ms. Van Hollander could identify teachers that were able to help students regulate their emotions, practice mindfulness and balance their responsibilities to ensure that they were taking time for self-care not just in their final year but also as self care strategies. I asked Ms. Van Hollander if she notices when peers are struggling.  She was able to reflect on this before answering that she recognizes when those around her may be having a hard time. Not surprisingly, she often recognizes this when others (including adults) don’t.

I then asked if she finds sometimes that it is hard to stop thinking of the vulnerable after she has been supportive. She was able to identify that it depends on how personally she is involved with them. However she is able to:

  • give herself credit when she feels that she has thought of everything she can do to help them
  • she recognizes that she needs to put herself first.
  • she knows that once she is done, she is done
  • next time she sees them she can ask how they are
  • if they aren’t a prominent part of her life she can put the experience aside.

These are wise words for a 18 year old and healthy practices that sometimes emerging play therapy students need to be reminded of.

This interview helped me to reflect on what in our conversation resonated with the verbalized experiences of my own children.  It isn’t always easy to have a parent that is a psychotherapist /play therapist. Dinnertime conversations can include topics such as informed consent and oppression. I am blessed with nine children. Each with their own history and experiences (some more complex than others). Ms. Van Hollander reminded me of three of our children who are intuitively supportive and insightful with others – irrespective of age. They are the ones that their friends gravitate towards when they need to process emotional issues. They recognize energy when they walk into a room and they stand up for those who sometimes need voice. These children however, are vulnerable to the same ills that we as clinicians are. They almost through osmosis pick up on intuition/ energy and play skills.  It is my belief that a seasoned Play Therapist not only practice evidenced based interventions in the play therapy room but also lives these outside of the play therapy room. There is energy to the Therapeutic powers of play and kids know it when they see it.

The Challenge

I challenge you to think   about these following questions:

 How has being a Play Therapist impacted your parenting?

  1. How has being a Play Therapist impacted your parenting?
  2. How has being a Play Therapist impacted your child’s ability to communicate,   creatively problem solve and empathize with others?
  3. How often do we teach our children the safe and effective use of self, so they learn emotional safety skills in addition to the other self protective skills we teach them.

We consciously teach our children interactional and relational skills but they also inherit skills (almost through osmosis) or is it indirect teaching?  Many children of therapists are skilled at picking up on situations and feelings. Therefore, as their parents, we need to be intentional about how we teach them to also protect themselves emotionally.

Lastly, Ms. Van Hollander verbalized something my children have often said. Their parents are fun. They have cool offices and bring fun play tools home often. We just also have to remember to play more with our children, even though we may have done it all day at that place called an office. You don’t want your child asking you as one of mine did one day, “ When do I get to be the client- Mommy?”.

For me, I hope that one day I get to meet Ms. Van Hollander face to face. Maybe, (like when I met her mom) it will also be on Broadway.

PS. If anyone has the interest in supporting a young woman in raising money for the Nicaragua buildOn trip, the link that follows is helpful.

Theresa Frasier

Ms. Frasier is a Play Therapist Supervisor in Canada who wears many hats. She is well known for her work with folks who experience complex trauma and grief and loss. She is launching a web based sandtray training in early 2018.

Feb 16

So You Want to Be A Play Therapist?

By Jen Taylor | Play Therapy , Professionals , Uncategorized

Let’s welcome my next guest blogger is Kamini Verma as she dives into becoming play therapist! 

Common Hurdles In Becoming A Registered Play Therapist

When I decided I wanted to officially take the leap to become a registered play therapist I found many resources that outlined the steps I needed to take. I especially found the Association for Play Therapy (APT) website helpful, as well as a few blogs that offered a breakdown of each step to see if registration was even plausible. I hunkered down, reviewing my graduate course load to make sure I met all the requirements. Then I started to attend trainings and conferences, identified clients that would benefit from play therapy, networked, and began the search for a registered play therapy supervisor. Then I hit a lull. What do I do now? How do I utilize my agency’s space to validly implement the play therapy interventions I now have at my fingertips? What do I do without any resources to create or fill a playroom? All of these elements are daunting at first. Here is how I am dealing with each of these barriers.

To Become Registered or Not?

I did not attend an undergraduate school or graduate school that offered a dual degree and certification in play therapy. As a working student, if the class was not in the evening I could not take it, thus I missed the play therapy classes that were only offered during the day. I like working with kids and find play therapy to be the best clinical model there is for this population. Once I connected my own practice style with the theory I was off and running! Registration builds my network and connections with professionals, as well as expands my knowledge base to ensure fidelity to the variety of modalities.  

Limited Budget

As I have met other play therapists in private practice and school settings it is apparent we all have the same hurdle. Justifying the expense of toys in an already limited budget or finding the means to furnish the playroom from our own income. As Pinterest is my best friend, I was thrilled to find lists of toys and storage options that could be found at the local Dollar Store. I was frustrated to learn that not all dollar stores across the state, or even in my own town, carried the same items. Finding what I was looking for often required many trips and “travel” to smaller towns that may offer more supplies in their local store. I have found my best resource to be the support of my friends and family. Once, I posted a plea on Facebook and was met with offers to post in online Mommy Groups, as well as search through their own children’s outgrown toys to help me fill my space. I also posted lists in public recreation centers or schools hoping I could be added to someone’s donation list. Of course, I perused Goodwill and local consignment stores for items.

Limited Space

I have been able to identify with school play therapists over limited space options. My office does not quite meet the Garry Landreth specifications as outlined in Play Therapy: The Art of the Relationship so working with my agency administration to find the best options was the first step. School settings, or even leasing your own office space, can put up the same barrier due to lack of space or budget to rent a big enough space. I am learning to be creative with my space and storage solutions. Toys are visible but organized or folded away. It is like having a portable play therapy kit in an office setting! To create this, I found the most help in researching portable play kits, which you can create yourself or purchase from various retailers.

Administration Unfamiliar with Play Therapy

I work for an agency that offers many medical services, one of which is behavioral health counseling. They are supportive of their clinicians exploring a variety of modalities and utilizing them in sessions, but everything has to be reviewed under the requirements of various regulatory boards and grantors. This is especially difficult when the people making these decisions are not familiar with play therapy and the existing research behind the various theoretical approaches. It can often look like we are “just playing with kids.” I started with the evidence based practice statement on the APT website to show the method behind the madness. I harkened back to my graduate school days and created a research based proposal using Garry Landreth’s teachings and publications. When the administration was able to see the foundation of the modality we were able to have a more open dialogue of how to offer play therapy in the existing setting. Still, I needed to define why play therapy was a helpful modality…

Therapeutic Play vs. Play Therapy

If you work with kids your sessions typically involve playing with them. You do not have to be a registered play therapist to use play in your practice, but I have found understanding the theory behind the actions to enhance my practice exponentially. I am not “just playing” with kids. I am giving them the words to express their thoughts, feelings, and life story within a relationship. Using play as a therapeutic tool can teach many life lessons regarding specific techniques. Play therapy helps the child find their own way to self-regulation and emotional balance within their current developmental and cognitive level. This article by Garry Landreth and Sue Bratton summed the thoughts I had in my mind, giving proof that there is research to what my gut was telling me to do in sessions.

Next Steps

Now I have the supplies. I have been creative with my space. The administration is on board. I created informed consent among my client base. Who knew I would have so many steps before I even started supervision? My next steps are to find the right supervisor to guide me. I hope that you’ll stay tuned for my journey!

Kamini Verma, LCSW

Ms. Verma is a therapist in Texas that is passionate about assisting children and their families through periods of healing, development and growth. She has 10+ years of experience working with children, adolescents and their families on topics related to healing from trauma and abuse, crisis intervention, creating home stability, adoption, attachment, grief and loss, mindfulness and questions of sexuality. Kamini is a Trust Based Relational Intervention ® Certified Educator. She enjoys crafting, cookie decorating and spending time with loved ones in between pursuing her Registered Play Therapist certification.

Feb 11

Working with Gifted Children in Play Therapy: Part 1

By Jen Taylor | Children 0-5 , Kids 5-12 , Play Therapy , Professionals , Teens 13 and Over , Uncategorized

Our next guest blogger is Dr. Jessica Stone who dives into the world of working with gifted children.

     I have quite a few gifted clients.  I am unsure how they find me; is it word of mouth within the community? Is it my listing on the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page, ?  May be the presentations I have given on gifted children? Is it the advocation I provide for gifted students in my school district?  I am really not certain.  What I do know is that I am immensely interested in helping gifted individuals and I have personal and professional experience in this arena.  

     There are a lot of different topics to cover when speaking about gifted people.  The wonderful thing about a blog is that information can be imparted in a quick, informal manner which will hopefully spark thought, share important information, and provide avenues to pursue further explorations.  A limitation is that a blog is short with around 1,000 words.  Apparently, I am quite verbose, because I could really go on, and on, and on…  What I will do to make sure we cover a few topics adequately is to break it up into a series.  If you have topics you would like to be covered, please leave a comment and I will work to include it in a future blog.  

A little about my belief system

     Fundamentally, philosophically, and theoretically I believe strongly in using a client’s language and interests in our therapeutic sessions.  This language can include the actual spoken language, vernacular, cadence, etc., but can also include their interests such as music, books, games, and toys.  Historically I have spoken with therapists about using songs and Pokémon cards/characters in therapeutic ways.  More currently, I speak with therapists about using board games and digital tool interests in therapeutic ways.  The language of children is somewhat fluid.  It is important that we as play therapists “go with the flow” of the fluidity.  When a client has particular types of needs, it is important for therapists to incorporate them into the therapy whether they are strengths or areas which need assistance.   

How did I become interested in working with and understanding gifted clients?

     Working with gifted clients fits for me in multiple ways.  I was designated as gifted as a child.  Even writing that makes me cringe a little bit.  What did I just divulge?  How will it be interpreted? What will people now expect of me? Do they think I am bragging? I went through stages as a child where I was proud of myself, where I was ashamed; stages where I didn’t want to be different, and where I was happy to be different… There are pros and cons associated with being gifted.  Ultimately, I have landed in a place where I both like and dislike some aspects of this thing called gifted, but it is who and how I am.  The bigger question now is, “how can I help children who might struggle with this gifted ‘thing’?”

When one of my children was about 16 months old I was cooking dinner at the stove and he was building with Duplo Legos behind me.  He had one of those buckets of the blocks so there were plenty to choose from.  We were chatting periodically while I cooked and he built.  Suddenly he said, “look mommy”.  When I turned around I almost fell over.  He had built a structure which reminded me of the Eiffel Tower and it was perfectly symmetrical in shape and in color.  I took pictures.  I was fascinated, proud, and frightened… very, very frightened.  I thought: “What on earth am I going to do with him?  How will I know what his needs will be and how will I assist him in getting them met?”  Since then I have had multiple children identified in my family, and each of them are quite different in personality, abilities, and needs.  

The older my children became, the more I began to understand the variability, stigmas, and challenges associated with being gifted.  I started to think that if I am struggling with this – a person who was classified as gifted, a psychologist, and a mom – then others must be also struggling.  How could I use my experience and knowledge to be helpful?  I began to research, observe, and listen to people of gifted families.  I began to work with gifted children therapeutically.  In some ways, it was the same process as with other children.  In some ways, it was different.  I believe those differences are important for the therapist to understand.  

What does it mean to be gifted?: A beginning

It is fascinating that the very word “gifted” sparks a flurry of emotions. Quite a few people in gifted families feel as though they will be negatively judged if the term is used in conjunction with a family member or themselves.  Using the term can seem like a person is bragging or that they feel their child is superior in some way.  Perhaps this is true in rare circumstances, but overall families are using it to indicate that their child has particular needs.  

It is my very strong belief that if we picture the normal bell curve (below) and look at the portions to the left of the -1 and to the right of the 1 standard deviation (SD) delineations, we can see that these are two very important ends of the spectrum.  The portion to the left of the -1 SD indicates the portion of the population who have special needs associated with a lower intelligence quotient. The further left you move, the more significantly the difficulties effects the person and support system.  I believe the 1SD portion to the 3SD portion to the right of the curve, the gifted population, also indicates those who have special needs and the further one moves to right, the more significantly the IQ level effects the person and the support system.  It is simply the other end of the spectrum.  The needs are significant and addressing them effects multiple aspects of their academic, emotional, and social development.

I will let you chew on all this for a bit while I write up the next installment… to be continued.



Dr. Jessica Stone

Dr. Stone is a Licensed Psychologist and RPT-S who works in a private practice in Fruita, CO. She has been providing psychological services to children, teens, adults, families, and prospective parents since 1994.  Dr. Stone has been involved with the Association for Play Therapy in numerous capacities since 1993, including serving as CALAPT Branch President. She has presented nationally and internationally, and has been published in the fields of psychology and play therapy. She is the co-founder of the Virtual Sandtray App and VR  

Jan 17


By Jen Taylor | Children 0-5 , Kids 5-12 , Play Therapy , Play Therapy Interventions , Professionals , Trauma

That is the name of Holly Willard’s coloring book and the subject of her course Sexual Abuse Treatment Methods Using Play Therapy from the 2017 Play Therapy Summit.

Holly takes this topic very seriously and it is obvious during her heartfelt presentation that sexual abuse prevention is one of her passions.

And that’s because she knows the statistics.  You probably do to:

  • 1 in 4 girls will be sexually abused
  • 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused
  • 75% percent of perpetrators are well known to the child

I even created a nifty little graphic to remind everyone of those numbers.

For Those Who Love Resources

If you are a fan of directive play therapy interventions and techniques, then Holly’s course Sexual Abuse Treatment Methods Using Play Therapy is right up your alley.

I have not counted them all but I know there are at least a dozen different resources and play therapy techniques included in her course.

Her coloring book, You Are Amazing, is just one page after another of directive interventions.  But she is not just promoting her book.  She is genuinely promoting relationship enhancing techniques that also build self esteem and resiliency.

And she knows of tons of resources.

My absolute favorite are these Superhero finger tatoos that she uses from Amazon (no affiliate links here…just sharing).

You get more tatoos than capes, so Holly recommends using construction paper for capes to stretch the value.

She uses them to talk about all the characteristics about the child that make them super.

It’s a cool way to build the self-esteem and talk about the special powers they have.

See 5 More Resources from her course in the  Facebook  group today.

It’s still all about the relationship

Holly shares so many directive play therapy strategies in her course, but at the end of they day, she really wants people to remember that what they are doing is enough.

You can have all sorts of cool books.

There are dozens more cool techniques that you can use.

But, she reminds us that many of these play-based interventions came FROM children DURING sessions.  It was through a child’s ability to be vulnerable in sessions that many directive play therapy interventions were created.

And Holly (and I) want you to remember that you are doing good work.

And as Holly says,


Jan 13

Happy New Year!

By Jen Taylor | Play Therapy , Professionals , Uncategorized

Hey everyone! Welcome to 2018! You may  have noticed that you have not been getting the weekly emails anymore.  Since moving to Hawaii, I have really dropped the ball on that one.  But luckily, I have found some really great colleagues who are going to step up and give you even BETTER content.

I am excited to have some guest bloggers for the upcoming year. They are all mental health professionals with expertise in working with children under five, school age kids, teens, parents or mental health professionals.

Check out the list of amazing authors we will be posting weekly.  You should start to receive your regular  blog posts again very soon.  Thanks!

Theresa Frasier

Ms. Frasier is a Play Therapist Supervisor in Canada who wears many hats. She is well known for her work with folks who experience complex trauma and grief and loss. She is launching a web based sandtray training in early 2018.


 Dr. Jessica Stone
Dr. Stone is a Licensed Psychologist and RPT-S who works in a private practice in Fruita, CO. She has been providing psychological services to children, teens, adults, families, and prospective parents since 1994.  Dr. Stone has been involved with the Association for Play Therapy in numerous capacities since 1993, including serving as CALAPT Branch President. She has presented nationally and internationally, and has been published in the fields of psychology and play therapy. She is the co-founder of the Virtual Sandtray App and VR

Kamini Verma, LCSW

Ms. Verma is a therapist in Texas that is passionate about assisting children and their families through periods of healing, development and growth. She has 10+ years of experience working with children, adolescents and their families on topics related to healing from trauma and abuse, crisis intervention, creating home stability, adoption, attachment, grief and loss, mindfulness and questions of sexuality. Kamini is a Trust Based Relational Intervention ® Certified Educator. She enjoys crafting, cookie decorating and spending time with loved ones in between pursuing her Registered Play Therapist certification.

Kim Martinez

Ms. Martinez is a child and family counselor in Tampa, Florida. She specializes in anxiety, ADHD and divorce/step family issues using art, play, sand tray and creativity in counseling. Kim believes in helping families, children and adults find their “True North”.


Leanna Rae, MSSW, RMTi, CPLC

Ms. Rae has over 16 years of experience in the field of social work providing neurodevelopmental tools for children and adults to help with social, emotional and cognitive growth and learning. She is the co-founder and Executive Director at Kid’s Brain Tree Fort Worth,


Marly A. Hinestroza-Gaviria, LCSW

Ms. Hinestroza-Gaviria is a Resilience Trainer for FOCUS Hawaii working with military families and couples. Marly has worked as a certified Multidimensional Family Therapist with adolescents and their families dealing with adolescent high-risk behaviors and/or substance abuse. She has experience working with children from infancy to adolescence and their families providing assessments, individual and family therapeutic interventions, service coordination and crisis intervention. Marly earned her Master of Social Work degree from Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Sharon Montcalm, LPC, CSC

Ms Montcalm is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified School Counselor and  Owner of Kid Time Counseling in Denton ,TX where she happily serves kids, families and educators. Sharon spent sixteen years working as a public school counselor experiencing school days with  students ages 4 to 18. It takes time to be a kid.

Adrienne Jeffries, MSW, LCSW-A

Mrs. Jeffries has worked with adults and children, helping them navigate their mental health concerns, symptoms and traumas.  She is finishing her licensure hours in Elizabeth City, NC to be fully licensed in September 2018. Adrienne is a military wife and mom to a toddler, preschooler, and 3 dogs, who just accepted a counseling position in a local school system. In her spare time she enjoys all forms of creativity, learning, reading, and spending time with her family.

Alyssa Caldbeck, LISW, RPT

Alyssa Caldbeck is a Licensed Independent Social Worker and aRegistered Play Therapist. She specializes in attachment, trauma, and adoption concerns in children and adolescents of all ages.  Alyssa is an EMDR Certified Therapist and Consultant in Training with Ana Gomez. She has completed specific adoption mental health competency training (Training for Adoption Competency) with the Center for Adoption Support and Education.
Dec 15

Play Therapy & Family Court

By Jen Taylor | Professionals

Clinicians-Are you prepared for a high conflict family court case?

I could talk about play therapy all day.  It’s fun and exciting and so powerful.  You know what’s not fun?  Spending a whole day in court responding to a subpeoona on a divorce and custody case.

In the 2017 Play Therapy Summit, Lynn Louise Wonders reminds us that if we are not prepared for potential court cases, then we are really vulnerable in all aspects of our play therapy practice.

It’s not fun.  It’s not exciting.  But it is REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT.

And thankfully, Lynn is willing to guide us through this process in her course on Play Therapy & Family Court. 

Use Social Media Wisely

Many professionals update their fees (and forms) at the beginning of every year.  We’re going to talk about the policies and protocols that you might want to consider revising.  But first, a reminder from Lynn:


Just don’t.  Aside from the fact that the advice that you get there (or anywhere else on the Internet) might not be good, it is a potential violation of HIPAA privacy concerns.  *Side note:  this article is for educational purposes only based on the experiences of this author and Lynn Louise Wonder and is not to be perceived as legal or ethical advice.  Just stuff to consider!

Consider this change to your informed consent documents

In her course Play Therapy and Family Court, Lynn Louise Wonders offers one powerful tip that could help protect you (professionals) anytime you are involved in a high conflict custody or divorce case.

And if you’ve been in practice for a while, you may have already heard about it.  And, you might have already implemented it.  If so, then give yourself a little pat on the back right now.

But, if not…then, you might consider blocking out just an hour (or less) of your time to review your informed consent forms and make this one little change.

What is it?

Add a statement to your informed consent that requires parents to agree NOT to subpoena you for court hearings. And have parents initial it.

(And yes, Lynn and I both know that you can still get subpoenaed to court).

But, she explains why this statement is so helpful in her course.

She also recommends that you have a lawyer look over your informed consent (so if you are involved in a lot of these types of cases, that’s a great idea as well and worth the investment).

Take a second to review your informed consent form right now…what does it say about divorce and custody cases? And is it enough?

You be the judge.

Think No One Will EVER Do Anything Bad To You?

In this course, Lynn was talking about the form that she has parents sign agreeing not to secretly record their sessions.

“Who would do that?” I asked.

And her response –

“That’s what makes you vulnerable!”

And from her experience, there are people who would do it.  And so, it became her mission to protect other therapists from this type of vulnerability.

She includes her example “Non-Recording Agreement” as a bonus material in her summit course.  You can download and start using it just to add another level of protection to your practice in 2018.

Lynn was brave enough to tackle this serious topic during the Play Therapy Summit even though she knew that a more fun and playful topic might be more “popular.”  And she did this because she really cares about clinicians.   She isn’t afraid to tackle the tough stuff.

But…she’s also pretty good at the fun stuff.

And she has this whole arsenal of play therapy training on other really great topics.


She is moving ALL of her courses to my learning site so that you can consolidate your training in one easy to access place.

What you need to know:

  • Three courses are available right now and a bunch more are coming next month.
  • They are all non-contact training approved by APT (but if you’ve taken them before from her, then don’t take them again because the content is the same)
  • They are NOT included in your All Access Pass from the Summit

We have a course for a clinician at every level:

Beginner:  Play Therapy Across the Lifespan
Intermediate: Mindfulness in Play Therapy
Advanced: A Play Therapy Approach to Treating Trichotillomania

Grab those courses as well as her Play Therapy Summit course on Play Therapy & Family Court here:

*Note: this course is designed for play therapists or other mental health clinicians as continuing education credit.  (APT Approved Provider 12-331)

Dec 08

Integrative Attachment Informed Cognitive Behavioral Play Therapy (IAI-CBPT)

By Jen Taylor | Play Therapy Interventions , Professionals

Integrative Attachment Informed Cognitive Behavioral Play Therapy (IAI-CBPT) was a topic in the 2017 Play Therapy Summit presented by Dr. Angela Cavett.  Dr. Cavett created this model out of her love for play therapy and out of her desire to help her clients achieve even more powerful results.  If you don’t know Dr. Cavett, don’t let the title intimidate you.

What do you need to know about IAI-CBPT?

Dr. Cavett is the first to admit that, “First of all, it’s a mouthful”

But she reminds us that “all of those components are important.”

If you are intimidated by the title of this course (I was too!), don’t be.  Dr. Cavett does a great job of explaining the how (and why) of this theoretical model.

Very simply, she says that Integrative Attachment Informed Cognitive Behavioral Play Therapy is like:

(TF-CBT + Theraplay)²


Well, I don’t know about you but that makes me feel completely overwhelmed.  In her course, she breaks it down for you.

IAI-CBPT is  a 3 Tier System

Basically, children with severe attachment issues start at Tier 3 and work their way down. Tier 1 is a lot of TF-CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Play Therapy. And Tier 2 is the scaffolding in between.

That wasn’t so complicated, was it?  In her course, she explains what types of assessments she does at each tier and what the course of mental health treatment looks like for clients in each tier.  She describes more on how and when parents are involved at each tier as well.  And as she talks about each part of the system, it all starts to make more sense.

Play Therapy Techniques from IAI-CBPT

Dr. Cavett understands that not everyone has all of the foundational training.  However, she still gave us a bunch of great interventions that you can start using right away.  She shares so many of her favorite interventions in her course, but the three that I love the most are:


This Theraplay intervention is good for Tier 3 type clients and is my favorite game to play with my kids while waiting on food at a restaurant.  I tap a beat (slap the table) and then the child repeats it. Add to it each time (slap the table, slap with other hand), etc.  Super fun and easy. It costs nothing and requires no materials.  But it’s also really fun with drums!


Dr. Cavett uses this CD from Dr. Amy Salzman, MD and if you have Amazon Prime, then you can stream it FREE.  Listen to it and test it out (even if you don’t have the otter puppet).


You need a dry erase board, some different colored/shaped magnets and some markers.  Take the CBT triangle to a whole new level by giving your clients something to touch and move around while you are dissecting those thoughts, feelings and behaviors.  And if you are interested in learning more about this model, Dr. Cavett is working on a book with all of the details.  And play therapists or other mental health professionals can take her course from the 2017 Play Therapy Summit.

Dec 01

The Culture of Childhood

By Jen Taylor | Play Therapy Interventions , Professionals

I just wanted to take a quick minute to say how thankful I am for everyone that participated in the 2017 Play Therapy Summit. I have now moved to Hawaii and since it might be cold where most of you are, I’m not going to talk about the amazing weather.  I will say that it has honestly been a difficult transition just getting organized and back to work.

But, THANKFULLY, I am starting to get it together.  And, I realized that there was a TON of information from the Summit and like me, you might have already forgotten most of it (or missed it altogether).

So, I was going back through the material and pulling out some memorable moments. And as I did, I remembered that some of the videos were not (technology wise) perfect. In fact, I had some difficulty during Dr. Mullen’s recording and that is why hers looks different than the rest (you can see us both throughout the whole interview instead of focusing on her while she’s talking).  It bugs me that she doesn’t get the spotlight like everyone else does.

But my mentor reminded me that to be accepting of my flaws and my imperfections (when it comes to technology and life) is what actually makes things MORE amazing. And, low and behold, that is the EXACT message that Dr. Mullen herself talks about in this presentation.

As a little reminder, she says:

Throughout her presentation, Dr. Mullen reminds us of the reasons that she and so many clinicians love play therapy.  She inspires us to remember the foundation of child-centered and humanistic theories in our work with children.  And she does that by continually asking one question:


The week of  any holiday can often be a really difficult time for some of our young clients.  I know in my own history – holiday weeks usually prompted the most crisis calls or other “meltdown” behaviors from kids that were supposed to be celebrating.

Parents are often surprised that these kids somehow sabotage their ability to attend a party at school or regresses in their behavior when a big group of family members get together.

In her class, Dr. Mullen reminds us about how preschoolers draw people with “a big head and legs” and she talks about how they view the world as being bigger than them.

So, if things are blowing up this week or your own children manage to embarrass you in front of the in-laws, don’t forget to consider that question posed by Dr. Mullen:


What is it like from their point of view? It may be a key to understanding their behavior this week and in the weeks to come.

In her course, Dr. Mullen tells us that sometimes we assume that we understand what it is like to be a child, but we’re not always really listening to what they are trying to tell us.  Sometimes, we fail.  Sometimes we mess up.  Or just get it wrong.

And, that children forgive us as long as we keep trying and are coming from a place of authentic compassion and understanding. 

In closing, she tells us that in that way-

EVERY CHILD BECOMES OUR TEACHER and it’ OK to make mistakes!


You can learn more from Dr. Mullen by taking her one hour course on The Culture of Childhood as featured in the 2017 Play Therapy Summit. (APT Approved Provider 12-331)

Or, you can contact her through her website at


**This course is designed for mental health professionals or those with a desire to learn more about helping children. It is not a substitute for therapy.  If your child is in need of mental health services, please find a qualified play therapist to help you through this process at**

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