December 15, 2017

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)

Why a white daisy?

Apparently, when people  are asked to draw a flower, the first one that comes to mind for a majority of people is the daisy shape.   This single flower (just the flower part without the stem or any leaves and on a solid black background) was show to study participants after being shown a high-arousal negative image. Examples of high-arousal negative images include awful things like violence, injuries and car crashes.  Two trials were conducted:  in the first subjects were shown a high arousal image and then either a) the flower image b) a mosaic of fragments of the flower image or c) a visual fixation point.  In the second trial, the high arousal image was followed by either a) the flower image, b) a chair (deemed a neutral image) or c) a blue sky with clouds (deemed a positive non-floral image).   Systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings were taken throughout the experiments.  

As expected, mean blood pressure was lower when participants viewed the flower versus the fixation point or the mosaic flower,  but what was unexpected is that the flower image actually reduced mean blood pressure to a level lower than the baseline.  Both the flower image and the blue sky had a similar positive impact in changing mood from negative to positive (with the blue sky having the most overall impact).  However, only the flower (not the sky) caused a reduction in mean blood pressure.  It was determined that viewing a simple flower image could in fact change a negative mood into a more positive one and also decrease blood pressure. 

The power of the single flower image was then studied in regards to salivary cortisol levels.  During this study, the high-arousal images were once again paired with the flower image, the flower fragment mosaic or the fixation point.  Once again, only the flower image was shown to significantly decrease stress during the recovery phase. One final examination looked at fMRI images of the brain during these conditions.  Through this imagery it was discovered that the flower image was effective in decreasing the amygdala-hippocampus activation that occurred after viewing the high arousal images. Researchers speculated that the flower image was a distraction tool that was helped prevent the recall of the stressful images.  

The brief viewing of this single flower image was shown to be effective at reducing negative emotions and created better functioning of both the cardiovascular and endocrine systems! Having such a simple tool available to help reduce stress and regulate unpleasant emotions and is one possible tool for interrupting ruminating thoughts or unpleasant flashbacks.  

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

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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