August Play Therapy Wrap-Up

-Early in the month, NPR had a very interesting piece that looks at the role of play in child development. Many believe that our current harried lifestyles are not allowing for sufficient play time, in what is being called a “national play crisis.” This story was the second in a weeklong “Playing to Learn” series.

-I’ve only read the abstract, but this seems like a really interesting article on Non-Directive Play Therapy.

-A new therapy room in Binghamton, NY was dedicated to a longtime sexual abuse counselor who recently passed away.

-LEGO play can be very beneficial to children with Autism. In this 5-minute lightning talk, Hannah Coles outlines how LEGO therapy works, and how it can improve language and communication.

-This video serves as a good introduction to play therapy for parents, and also touches on some concepts and guidelines that might be of interest to practitioners:

-A recent study on the effectiveness of sandplay therapy came to some very interesting conclusions about the measures of success. In short: lack of marked improvement does not suggest ineffectiveness.

-Like it or not, Summer is just about over. But with colder temperatures come new workshops and learning opportunities! The Colorado Sandplay Therapy Association is offering some great ones to its members including a free member training in consultation and didactic learning; Introduction to Sandplay; and, in early 2015, “Seeing with Real Eyes: Vulnerability and Courage in Sandplay and Play Therapy Stories”. Check out a full list of events here.

-Robin Williams’ suicide earlier this month was a great shock to all of us. It was hard to know how to process and express our grief over losing such an icon in such an upsetting way. Because suicide can be a contagious phenomenon, it is a very tricky subject to discuss, and the conversation can become particularly dangerous when it takes place on social media. This video and article looks at how to discuss suicide without endangering the severely depressed among us.

-A foundation in Pennsylvania is trying to move the play therapy room outside. As this article reports, the Fulton County Medical Center Foundation is campaigning to build a playground outside designed specifically for play therapy. It would be built to meet the needs of children of all ages, and those in need of a range of play therapy modalities including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language, and behavioral therapy.

-Want a free lecture on Individual Play Therapy? YouTube provides…

-A professor in New Mexico is using sand play as a part of an “embodied restorying process” to help veterans and their families dealing with the consequences of combat.

-Sand tray therapy without sand? This paper makes the case for a virtual sandtray.

-I really enjoyed these three techniques for improving self confidence from PsychCentral. It’s just one in a series of blog posts by child therapist Heather Gilmore, LLMSW.

Here’s a great response to the unexpected results of a study on pretend play.

Have a super September!

July Play Therapy Wrap-Up (We’re Back!)

After a brief absence and a change of venue, your favorite play therapy blog is back at a new and improved location. Here are a few things that we’ve come across over the past couple of months…

-For those of you who have never seen the classic 1972 documentary film Sandplay with Dora M. Kalff, Dr. Eric Green has posted the film in its entirety.

-If you’re not already member of APT, join now! Here are a couple of brochures explaining the organization and the benefits of getting involved. The APT also recently posted a Training Directory of approved providers and has launched a Career Center for job seekers and employers.

-CreativeCounseling101 posts lots of great sand tray therapy ideas including this one for building your own bridge. (You can also purchase bridges for sand tray use at!)

-The Minnesota Sandplay Therapy Group just put out a new edition of their newsletter Sandspiel (great name!). It’s full of great articles and updates, including news about the upcoming conference they’re calling “Exploring Relationships in Sandplay on the Mighty Mississippi”.

-Can yoga be considered a form of play? A new book by Louise Gold suggests that the two can at least be used in tandem to help children with PDD. There’s a nice review of the book at PsychCentral.

-This article does a great job of summing up play therapy with its title alone.

-A very helpful short video from a New York play therapist about the value and use of play therapy.

-I came across this research paper from 1976 on non-directive play therapy. Very interesting to see what’s still relevant today, as well as how the practice has evolved.

-As box office earnings suggest: people love superheroes…children especially. Kids frequently incorporate superheroes into their play, as the idea of having superhuman powers provides a great spark to the imagination. An upcoming workshop in Sacramento will look into the history of the Big Three (Superman, Batman, and Wonderwoman) and what children can reveal through there interactions with them in play.

-Certified Sandplay Therapist and Teacher Barbara Turner, PhD will be traveling the globe over the next year leading training courses.

-For the dog-lovers out there, here’s a news story about therapy dogs being used to help alleviate the physical and emotional stress children can experience in a courthouse setting.

-The results of a recent study suggest that poor treatment of children can affect the way their gene’s are activated.

-August’s Sand Tray Miniature of the Month is not just one figure, but our entire selection of strong female figures. While boys are known for their fondness for digging around in the dirt and sand, any great sand tray collection should include just as many expressive tools for girls. The selection at ChildTherapyToys includes lots of strong female characters such as Athena, Joan of Arc, and, of course, Wonder Woman!

Have an awesome August everyone!




May Play Therapy Wrap-Up

-The Nashville Predators didn’t have a championship season, but they were champions off the ice. The team donated grant money to the HighHopesDevelopmentCenter’s play therapy room and equipped a cool clubhouse with slides, pulleys, and more. I think a slide is just what my play therapy room has been missing!

-This article coming to us from Canberra, Australia takes a look at some atypical play therapy used with atypical patients. Local performers–singers, clowns, etc.–are being trained to use their acts with the aged and impaired. Music and humor is found to have very positive effects on elderly people and has the power to illicit feelings and responses where other interventions fall short.

-Every play therapist has received their share of confused or skeptical looks from parents when Sand Play Therapy is brought up. Here’s a nice list of 5 important benefits of this kind of intervention.

-Dr. Gary Landreth, founder of the University of Texas Center for Play Therapy, has been summoned from across the pond to be a visiting professor at the University of Roehampton in England. Landreth is a veteran play therapist, the author of many articles on the subject and a frequent speaker at workshops and events. He is also the author of the books Innovations in Play Therapy, Child Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT) Treatment Manual, and Play Therapy: The Art of the Relationship.

– This article takes a look at play therapy in schools, particularly during testing time. It notes that play therapy “leads to higher order thinking skills, critical skills needed for subjects such as math and science.” It also points out that play is especially critical to development in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

-Looking for a good certificate program in southern California? Here are the details on what’s offered by UCSD.

-This article points out a few things to keep in mind when putting together a play therapy room for non-directive play therapy.

-People who have brain tumors are subjected to an intense, extensive regiment of MRI scans which require them to lay perfectly still for forty minutes or more. This is a daunting task for anyone, but even moreso for a child. This news story from the BBC looks at a program adopted by one hospital that uses play therapy to prepare the children for the demands of the treatment and thereby avoid the need for anaesthetic. It’s an interesting story and a real testament to the usefulness of play therapy. 

-Here’s a helpful blog post from PlayDrMom on how to start your first Play Therapy case.

-The APT Annual Conference will be in Houston, TX this year October 7-12. Registration is now open! We will see you there!

-ADDitude magazine put out a really great piece on shame and ADHD.

-May’s Sand Tray Miniature of the Month is the Friends with Diverse Abilities. These figures are a great way to express the challenges of being disabled or knowing and interacting with disabled persons…
Have an inspired June, play therapists!

April Play Therapy Wrap-Up

-This list of frequently asked questions about gaining a certificate in play therapy is specific to UC San Diego, but would still be quite informative for people interested in pursuing the degree. This general overview would be helpful, as well.

-At the beginning of 2013 the Institute for Play Therapy at Missouri State University was designated as an approved center of play therapy education by the APT. Here’s a great video about the benefits of play therapy and how it’s being taught and utilized at MSU:

-Spring/summer is a great time for play therapists to take advantage of learning opportunities and even squeeze a little summer vacation in while you’re at it. Friend of CTT Liana Lowenstein has a number of speaking engagements lined up that we encourage you to check out. Those of you who have had the pleasure of hearing Ms. Lowenstein speak know just how valuable an experience it can be. For those of you who haven’t, a visit to her website (or a perusal of this blog) should provide plenty of enticement. Here is her upcoming schedule.

Child Play Works Child Centered Play Therapy is a New Zealand organization dedicated to play therapy. The website is an excellent resource for play therapists in New Zealand, providing learning opportunities (both offline and on), newsletters, and more.   

-Speaking of newsletters, I’ve found that even if the source isn’t from your state’s play therapy association, they still provide some great articles and information. Here’s the archive for the Michigan APT’s newsletter, which is really pretty top-notch!

-Another can’t miss event this summer is the Annual Play Therapy Institute presented by the Northwest Center for Play Therapy Studies. The conference will be held June 2-6 and offers talks by Garry Landreth, Sue Bratton, and several more seasoned practitioners and educators. You can view the full brochure here and register online here.

-There were really just too many conferences and workshops announced this month to list here, but they can all be found at our articles and resources site!

-This is certainly a contender for the article of the month for April. A very interesting piece on ‘affinity therapy’, which uses a child’s fondness for–or in many cases “obsession with”–a particular animated character to help them learn social skills. The practice has been particularly successful with autistic children.

-Here’s an article on a great early education program in Colorado utilizing play therapy.

-Big news from the American Mental Health Foundation: it will be hosting its first two interactive webinars in its long history and they both have play therapy elements. The first one, in September, is on play therapy with adults, and the November webinar looks at using play to help children and families deal with disasters.

Is this the future of sand tray therapy? Are iPads going to serve as sandtrays? Even scarier: are we therapists going to be replaced by robots? Well…probably not anytime soon, but if you want a little glimpse at Sci-Fi Sandplay, check out this wild article.

Congrats to some fellow Texans!

-Here’s a news report from New Orleans–where play therapy was used to help many children suffering trauma after Hurricane Katrina–on whether or not play therapy intervention is right for your child. Another recent article from a Mississippi news source explains the benefits of play therapy and why services should be made more widely available in the region.

-In the March Play Therapy Wrap-Up we started a Sand Tray Miniature of the Month feature. This month’s mini is the adorable and expressive Emotes dolls. Each Emotes character represents a different emotion, and therefore mirrors a child’s own emotions. In this way, children are able to externalize and literally interact with their emotions while having fun along the way.

Have a wonderful, memorable May, everyone!

March Play Therapy Wrap-Up

-In this interview a seasoned sandplay therapist talks about how she became interested in sandplay and provides some great answers to great questions, including those relating to the future of the practice. A must-read for any sandplay practitioner.

-On our Play Therapy articles and resources site we keep a running list of notable upcoming workshops and learning opportunities, but most of them tend to be those taking place in U.S. and Canada. Of course there are many great groups and institutions teaching the value of play therapy across the globe, including the PsychMatters Family Therapy Centre in New Zealand, which boasts a full calendar of events.

-Liana Lowenstein (who submitted some excellent intervention ideas earlier this month) has posted two new articles to her website. The first consists of some very useful tips for treating children of divorce (more articles on that subject here). The second, written by Lynn Kenney, Psy D, is about the connection between parents and their children and how to “Stay in the Play.”

-And speaking of parenting, Ms. Lowenstein also posted this excellent parenting technique created by Pam Dyson, the founder and director of the St. Louis Center for Play Therapy.

-And speaking of Pam Dyson…where does she get all of her great ideas? In this video she introduces the “Worry Web”, a technique designed to help children with stress and anxiety, a major and often-overlooked issue.

-There are so many great therapy techniques to use in the initial stages of play therapy, when the main goal is to make the child comfortable and encourage expression, but what of the later stages of play therapy? This video presents an intervention that can be used to complete a successful journey through play therapy.

-I often come across these news stories about the basics of play therapy, but I particularly appreciated the way this one summarized the treatment and it’s range of application.

-Child Therapy Toys offers an enormous array of sand tray miniatures–so many that the selection can be hard to sift through! This is why we’re going to begin using this monthly wrap-up to select a “Miniature of the Month”–an essential tool of expression to be used in or outside the sandtray that you might have overlooked. March’s “Miniature of the Month” is this pair of horrified and scared people, a great expressive device for children to symbolize trauma and grief:








Have a spring-tastic April!

February Play Therapy Wrap-Up

National Play Therapy Week took place February 2nd through 8th. The event is one of the many efforts by the APT to increase awareness of play therapy and they certainly succeeded in doing so this year. The internet was full of news articles and blog posts about what play therapy is, how it can be used, and where you canfindit. I found this blog post breaking down the strategies of play particularly interesting, and I also enjoyed this post from the always-informative Pam Dyson.

-Speaking of the success of awareness campaigns, here’s an article about play therapy in Bangalore.

-I appreciated the emphasis this short article puts on play as a universal language.

-Susan Scheftel, PhD tells us what happens in play therapy in Psychology Today.

-I’m seeing colors! Check out this wild sensory sand play idea.

-For those looking for great training opportunities, you could do a lot worse than the Play Therapy Institute of Colorado. Check out their comprehensive list here (you can also view it in a calendar layout). 

Good question! What do you guys think of this explanation?

-A wide selection of toys and creative interventions are certainly helpful, but the real key to successful play therapy is the relationship.

-A lot of parents don’t realize that the power of play therapy isn’t restricted to their therapist’s office. Knowing how to incorporate play therapy at home can be extremely valuable.

-This article analyzes research done on using sand tray therapy with the intellectually disabled.

This graphic doesn’t leave anything out. Worth printing out and pinning to the wall. 

-Here’s a short clip fom the Eric J. Green’s excellent DVD “Jungian Play Therapy and Sandplay with Children: Myth, Mandala, and Meaning”.

-Atttention graduate students: You can save 15% on all of your purchases at through our Graduate Student Discount Program. Just email us a copy of your Student Card & Picture ID and we’ll sign you up!

-I’ll leave you with this wonderful (and very funny) video uploaded to the APT YouTube Channel.

Have a terrific March!

January Play Therapy Wrap-Up

January was a somewhat slow month for play therapy news, but here are a few choice links you might have missed…

-In November I came across an article about the use of expression therapies such as sandplay in Jin Zhong Prison, a Chinese correctional facility for inmates with infectious diseases. It seems the popularity of the practice is spreading, as this article reports that sandplay is also being used with offenders in a community correction center in Ma’anshan city. As a sandplay practitioner, I am very excited to see this very useful intervention used in such an environment.

-If you’re looking for a good learning opportunity without leaving home, check out Play, Play Therapy, and Games: Engage Children in Therapy, a webcast on February 5 at 2pm EST. I can personally attest to the quality of this one . If you aren’t available for the livecast, you can purchase it directly from the PESI website on CD or DVD.

-The APT is also offering a couple of great online courses: ‘The ABCs of Play Therapy’ and ‘Attachment Training’. Check out the very thorough reviews!

This article takes a look at untreated mental illness in teens. It posits that while many infectious illnesses are routinely checked, there is not enough screening for mental health and emotional problems, which can be just as destructive to the individual as well as others, as increasing instances of school violence would evidence. The article takes a look at efforts to screen for mental health across the country, but it seems clear that a more universal system needs to be put in place and strictly enforced. A very interesting read…what do you think?

-Congratulations to Capella University’s Center for the Study of Play Therapy for its re-designation as an Approved Center of Play Therapy Education by the APT through 2017.

Board games provide a great way to engage clients in therapy. There are many ways to take classic games such as Sorry and Candyland and give them a play therapy twist. Here’s a great article on how to incorporate board games into family therapy.  

-I’ve posted this video in the past (it and may other vids can be found in our videos section at, but it’s really a great introduction to play therapy and the APT.

-There are many helpful interventions to help children with autism express themselves and improve their social and emotional competence. That’s why has created the Autism Store, your one-stop shop for a large variety of the most valuable tools available.

-Virgina Satir became a pioneer of family therapy in the 1970s and 80s and her impact is still felt today. This video (as well as many others available on YouTube) show the master therapist at work.

-We love this innovative technique adapted for play therapy by Pam Dyson from the St. Louis Center for Play Therapy Training. Bombs away!

-For those of you who haven’t been following the APT’s History Speaks series, this interview with Violet Oaklander is a great place to start.

-A very enlightening foster parent’s perspective on her daughter’s first play therapy session.

-Some very interesting and positive results were seen in a San Antonio middle school that implemented a ‘Restorative Disciple Program’ in lieu of a zero-tolerance policy. Hopefully this is the beginning of some big changes in the way our schools discipline our children

December Play Therapy Wrap-Up

-This article, featured in Liana Lowenstein’s December newsletter, looks at what factors contribute to resiliency in children and the potential for positive growth after exposure to a traumatic life experience.

-Also featured in Ms. Lowenstein’s newsletter is an article that addresses a child’s fear of sleeping alone, a very common problem and a tough one to handle for parents. A child wanting to sleep with their parents every once in a while is quite normal, but at what point does it become an issue? The author provides guidance in identifying the problem and presents some very interesting solutions.

Here’s a new creative intervention technique from Ms. Lowenstein’s website. And, in case you didn’t catch my post from earlier this month, be sure to tune in to her YouTube channel, which has lots of great intervention ideas for therapists. Speaking of great YouTube channels, the UK Society for Play and Creative Arts Therapies has one that’s well worth your time.

-You’re never too old to benefit from play. I really enjoyed this article on play therapy with couples. Play can be a great way to diffuse stress and bring much-needed joy back into a relationship.

-A play therapist in South Carolina incorporates her corgi Bella into her play therapy sessions. “She’s a great listener, as you can tell by the size of her ears.”

-This video serves as a good primer for expressive technique in play therapy.

-Here are two other great play therapy videos I found this month: a therapist explains a new kind of “natural” play therapy and a master’s student looks at play therapy for children who have a sibling with autism spectrum disorder.

-I posted an entry about this earlier this month, but here’s an excellent list of must-have miniatures for any sand tray. (All available at!)

-It’s the season of giving, and this is a great cause to give to. You can put forth $25 to buy a play therapy kit for rescued child soldiers in Uganda.

-We added quite a few events to our list of upcoming workshops. Lots of exciting things happening in 2014! Also, the APT’s E-Learning Center is a great way to check out past workshops from home.  

-Another quality issue of Play Therapy magazine went out last month. If you missed it, check out the digital version here.

-Children with Asperger’s Syndrome have to deal with a lot of frustration, and they can’t help but reach a boiling point now and then. Calming these children can be complicated, but here’s 50 very helpful tips for parents.

-Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (or PCIT) got some national mainstream exposure this month via this article in the Washington Post. It takes a very thorough look at PCIT and hopefully will provide help for parents struggling to control their child.

-Speaking of PCIT, earlier this year the Child Welfare Information Gateway released this very enlightening report on PCIT with at-risk families.

-As play therapists we think of sandtray therapy as a way to help people express themselves; however, sand play can be helpful in many ways, including helping children with learning disabilities.

-Here’s a playful strategy to explore family relationships.

Happy New Year, play therapists! Have an incredible January and a wonderful 2014!

November Play Therapy Wrap-Up

-After reading about the devastating typhoon in the Phillipines, this article offered a message of hope for the many children who lived through the terrifying experience. This playground in Manila was built with play therapy intervention in mind, designed specifically to address the trauma of the children who lived through the typhoon in 2011, and it will no doubt be of use for the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan earlier this month.

-When it comes to treating trauma, there is a dearth of literature about individual treatment for nonoffending parents. This is an excellent, well researched paper that delves deeply into this oft-neglected dimension of trauma intervention.

-Can “playing doctor” actually be therapeutic? This month at, Dr. Rick Nauert takes a look at some innovative research being done with chronically ill children. The project focused on the use of medically themed toys to evaluate the needs and feelings of these children. (Further coverage of this story here.)

-A hospital in Rwanda has implemented a new initiative to employ play therapy to treat children recuperating from various medical issues and the trauma that can come with those issues. It’s great to see the power of play working across the globe!

-I posted this separately at the beginning of the month, but here it is again for those who might have missed it: a great intro to play therapy video from the APT.

-This video also offers an informative introduction to play and creative therapies, but has a more specific focus on intervention with children who have suffered abuse.

-Here’s a news piece about a growing mental health center in Iowa that focuses on play therapy intervention.

-As if there aren’t enough reasons to spend some time in Cape Cod this summer, PlayTherapyWorks is offering a seminar on sand therapy with families, couples, and groups.

-You knew it was coming…play therapy apps! A professor at MidAmerican Nazarene University has created an interactive app that serves as an introduction to play therapy for young children. It sounds pretty cool…and it’s free to check out!

-While we all take pride in our playrooms, sometimes children need the play therapy to come to them. Children in some West Virginia schools are receiving valuable play therapy intervention thanks to mobile play therapy kits donated by the Snowshoe Foundation. (You can build your own mobile kit with a starter set at

-The Association for Play Therapy is doing all it can to promote play therapy to the general public. Here’s how you can help!

-Looking for a gluten-free alternative to Play-Doh! Check out Kinetic Sand!

-The Theraplay Institute has released it’s upcoming schedule of training opportunities.

-Here’s a great article for parents that covers the basics of how to get the most out of playtime with your child. Lots of great suggestions here. The two articles on toys at the bottom are great for parents and play therapists, as well. I’ll definitely be bookmarking this site!

This article provides further evidence of the appeal and value of LEGO play to children with autism. The structured form of play that building with LEGOs provides can improve social skills.

-A prison in China is using expressive therapies such as sandplay to treat inmates’ mental health.

-I’ll leave you with an oldie-but-goodie from NPR: Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills.

Happy Holidays, everyone! When doing your shopping, don’t forget for that special play therapist in your life!

October Play Therapy Wrap-Up

-The New York Times published this article at the end of September, but you’ll forgive me for posting it here. It’s a must-read for therapists of all stripes.

-I came across this class description for “Theorizing Play” at the Brooklyn Institute of Social Research and found myself missing my days as a student. I would love to take this class, which considers the perspectives of a number of different disciplines to try to develop a better theoretical understanding of what play is.

-This new counseling practice in Auburn, New York–like many others these days–is going beyond the mainstream treatment options and offers play therapy as well as various holistic approaches to wellness.

-This is a great news story about two boys who were born prematurely and were kept alive for the first three months of their life by the efforts of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Missouri. Thirteen years later when the twins were planning the community service portion of their B’nai Mitzvah, they decided to help create a new play therapy room for the hospital. Read the whole thing here.

-I’ve come across this article before, but it’s worth sharing again: Fifteen Effective Play Therapy Techniques. (This and many other quality research papers can be found here.)

-An article I found last month argued that sandtray therapy can help adults struggling with addiction. I’d be very interested to read this study which appears to suggest the same thing.

-A brief synopsis of a recent workshop hosted by Gary Landreth titled “Healing the Hurting Child: The Necessary Dimensions of Child Play Therapy”.

-Given the many forms of adversity faced by many African American and Mexican American children in our society, a close look at the results of specific interventions is essential. These two articles seem quite fascinating based on the introductions provided.

-For those of you who didn’t attend the big APT conference this month in Rancho Mirage, CA, the APT awarded a lifetime achievement award to Texas State University professor Linda Homeyer. Congrats, Linda!

-Parent-Child Interaction Therapy gives parents a chance to connect with their child and also teaches them how to more effectively discipline their children. This article takes a thorough look at how PCIT works. For more articles on PCIT, go here.

-Here’s a peek at what the University of North Texas Play Therapy conference is offering this year.

-Boise State also has an interesting conference coming up. Here’s a look at what you can expect.

-As a no-spanking advocate, I really enjoyed this list.

-It’s never too early to stock up for Halloween! I suspect there are some kids our there that will get a lot of use out of these guys year-round.

-There’s a new therapeutic game for addressing stress and anxiety available at–The Stress Quest!– We’ve added dozens of new games in the past few months. Stress Quest fills a gap as one of the few games available for therapists working with children who have significant stress and anxiety.

-Want to win some free products from ChildTherapyToys? Visit and like the APT’s facebook page to find out how!

I hope everyone has a wonderful November and a happy Thanksgiving. And don’t forget to contribute to the Meebie kickstarter campaign!