Northwest Center for Play Therapy Studies

Summer Institute Workshops

June 5-9, 2017

I Don’t Wanna Talk About It: Working with Hard-to-Engage Children, Youth and Families

Monday, June 5, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Liana Lowenstein, MSW, RSW, CPT-S

Working with difficult-to-engage clients can be frustrating and challenging, even for seasoned clinicians. The challenge of working with younger clients in therapy can be further compounded by their fear of entering therapy, their lack of control over the decision to attend therapy, their feeling of being scapegoated for family problems, their lack of motivation for treatment, and their developmental capacity, which can make it difficult for them to respond to traditional talk therapy. Working with these clients involves understanding the reasons underlying what has been called "resistance" and engaging them in the therapeutic process.

This workshop will outline the factors that underlie engaging hard-to-reach children and families. Participants will learn specific techniques to engage children, adolescents and parents in therapy, and maximize potential for change. Emphasis will be on play therapy and expressive arts techniques for use with preschool, school-aged and adolescent clients. This will include therapeutic games, art, music and stories. Strategies for engaging parents in therapy will be outlined, as well as activities for use in child-focused family therapy sessions.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will be able to describe the factors underlying therapeutic resistance in the play therapy process.
  2. Participants will be able to implement creative play therapy interventions to facilitate rapport building with children and utilize strategies to engage resistant parents.
  3. Participants will be able to implement play therapy and expressive arts techniques with clients who are reluctant to verbally articulate their thoughts and feelings.
  4. Participants will be able to utilize play therapy activities for child-focused family therapy sessions. 


Liana LowensteinLiana Lowenstein, MSW, RSW, CPT-S is a registered clinical social worker, certified play therapist-supervisor, and certified TF-CBT therapist from Toronto, Canada. She has been working with children and their families since 1988. She presents trainings across North America and abroad. She provides clinical supervision to mental health practitioners, runs a play therapy internship program, and consults to several mental health agencies. She has authored numerous books, including Paper Dolls and Paper Airplanes: Therapeutic Exercises for Sexually Traumatized Children; Creative Interventions for Bereaved Children; Creative Interventions for Children of Divorce; Creative CBT Interventions for Children with Anxiety; and Cory Helps Kids Cope with Sexual Abuse. She is winner of the Monica Herbert Award for outstanding contribution to play therapy in Canada.

Aggression and Death in the Playroom: A Neurobiological Approach for Integrating Extreme Energy in Play Therapy

Tuesday, June 6, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Lisa Dion, LPC, RPT-S

During intense, aggressive play-therapy sessions, therapists are involved in play that may leave them feeling overwhelmed. Although aggression and death are common in play therapy, therapists may lack a clear understanding of how to facilitate its intensity. This may lead to inadvertently promoting aggression and increasing lower-brain disorganization. It can also contribute to therapists feeling exhausted and lead to compassion fatigue, and may compromise the ability to stay attuned in the playroom.

This workshop is designed to help understand aggression and death play through a neurobiological and “Synergetic Play Therapy” lens. Therapists will learn how to effectively work with this type of play in a way that supports nervous-system regulation, reorganization of the child’s lower centers of the brain, and decreases compassion fatigue. Therapists will explore a process for working with children at the deepest, most profound levels while staying safe and sane. They will learn how to integrate extreme energy in the play, while understanding what it takes to maximize growth and integration for their clients and for themselves as the therapist.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will be able to understand how to facilitate aggressive play in the play therapy process without promoting further aggression.
  2. Participants will learn how to keep self regulated in the midst of intense trauma and death play in the therapy room.
  3. Participants will be able to understand the link between children’s dysregulated states and their nervous system, as well as their play.
  4. Participants will learn about Synergetic Play Therapy and the significance of this in navigating the play therapy process.


Lisa DionLisa Dion, LPC, RPT-S is founder of the Play Therapy Institute of Colorado and creator of “Synergetic Play Therapy,” a model of play therapy bridging the gap between neuroscience and psychology. Dion teaches and supervises internationally, focusing on how a person’s mind and biology drives human behavior. This offers clients and students an understanding on how to maximize potential and develop a greater appreciation for themselves and others. She is dedicated to advancing play therapy through her workshops, podcasts and webinars, books and research. Her first book, Integrating Extremes: Aggression and Death in the Playroom, came out in 2016. Dion was the recipient of the Association for Play Therapy’s 2015 Professional Education and Training Award.

Extraordinarily Normal: Applying Development to Play Therapy

Wednesday, June 7, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Dee Ray, PhD, LPC-S, RPT-S

Although therapists are familiar with historical developmental theories, they often struggle to apply these theories to clients and their systemic partners. This presentation provides a comprehensive picture of children at every age, including brain, physical, emotional, social, cultural and sexual development. Each age description provides a conceptualization of the child within current culture by providing discussion of relevant issues, such as growing up in a technologically savvy world.

This presentation will provide the therapist with a concrete understanding of children developmentally and how to assess developmental characteristics in child-centered play therapy. The presenter will show video clips of children in play therapy to demonstrate developmental principles. She will also discuss the integration of developmental knowledge with play themes and therapeutic progress. Finally, this workshop will provide ideas and materials for how to use developmental information to tailor parent and teacher consultations to help them understand developmentally appropriate expectations for their children.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will learn to apply basic developmental theories to play therapy clients and systems.
  2. Participants will be able to describe development of children at specific age levels, including physical, neurological, and socio-emotional dynamics.
  3. Participants will summarize play themes and therapeutic progress as related to developmental concepts.
  4. Participants will learn to adapt play therapy interventions and parent consultations in a developmentally appropriate manner. 


Dee RayDee Ray, PhD, LPC-S, RPT-S is a distinguished teaching professor in the counseling program and director of the Child and Family Resource Clinic at the University of North Texas. Dr. Ray has published more than 100 articles, chapters and books in the field of play therapy, specializing in research publications specifically examining the process and effects of child-centered play therapy. She is author of Advanced Play Therapy: Essential Conditions, Knowledge, and Skills for Child Practice and Child Centered Play Therapy Treatment Manual. She is also coauthor of Group Play Therapy and Child Centered Play Therapy Research. Dr. Ray is current editor of the Journal of Child and Adolescent Counseling and former editor of the International Journal of Play Therapy. She is a founding board member and past president of the Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling. Dr. Ray has been the recipient of the Association of Humanistic Counseling Educator Award, the Texas Outstanding Counselor Educator Award, the Outstanding Research Award for Association for Play Therapy, the Outstanding Research Award for Texas Counseling Association, and the Nancy Guillory Award for Outstanding Service and Contribution to the Field of Play Therapy from the Texas Association for Play Therapy.

Helping Attachment-Disordered Children Through Theraplay®

Thursday, June 8, 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Evangeline Munns, PhD, CPsych, RPT-S

This workshop will cover will cover the fundamentals of Theraplay®, an attachment-enhancing model of play therapy. It is a treatment model that enhances attachment and trust between children and their parents – focusing on their strengths, thus building self-esteem for both. Theraplay tries to replicate normal parent/child interactions and is applicable to all ages and a wide range of emotional, behavioral and social difficulties. Most frequently, it is used in families where there are relationship and/or attachment difficulties including adopted, foster, stepchildren, and those within the autistic spectrum. Through lecture, video and experiential activities, this workshop will include Theraplay theory, primary dimensions (structure, engagement, challenge and nurture) and related research. Attendees will have an opportunity to practice some Theraplay activities. Dress comfortably.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will learn the fundamentals of Theraplay, a form of play therapy, and its basic applications.
  2. Participants will learn the importance of touch in human development and attachment in play therapy, as well as related brain research.
  3. Participants will learn various applications of Theraplay when working with families, peer groups, and the parent-child relationship.
  4. Participants will practice directive and nondirective forms of Theraplay and play therapy.


Evangeline MunnsEvangeline Munns, PhD, CPsych, RPT-S is a certified clinical psychologist, a registered trainer/supervisor with the Theraplay Institute in Chicago, and a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor. She has presented workshops on play therapy across Canada, United States and internationally. In recent years, much of her time has been spent in training and supervising therapists in Theraplay, nondirective and filial play therapy. With more than 40 years of experience working with children and their families, she offers a rich knowledge in the children’s mental health field. Dr. Munns has written numerous articles on Theraplay and has edited two books: Theraplay: Innovations in Attachment-Enhancing Play Therapy and Applications of Family and Group Theraplay. She received the Monica Herbert Award from the Canadian Association for Child and Play Therapy (CACPT), and is listed by the CACPT as one of the five top play therapists in Canada.

Autism Plays: Play Therapy Strategies and Interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Friday, June 9, 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Robert Jason Grant, EdD, LPC, RPT-S

Participants will explore and experience play therapy interventions and strategies designed to effectively address key struggle areas for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. Evidence-based play therapy practices will be presented along with strengths and limitations of play therapy models. The unique play qualities and play skill deficits typical with children with autism will be highlighted. Several play therapy interventions will be presented, along with case examples and video presentation of play sessions.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will learn about strengths and limitations in implementing play therapy approaches with children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder.
  2. Participants will be able to identify several play therapy interventions to use with children with autism spectrum disorder.
  3. Participants will be able to identify at least three play therapy approaches that are considered evidence based for working with children with autism spectrum disorder.
  4. Participants will gain an understating of typical play skill deficits that occur with children with autism spectrum disorder.


Robert Jason GrantRobert Jason Grant, EdD, LPC, RPT-S is a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor and certified autism specialist. He operates two AutPlay Therapy Clinics in Missouri and specializes in play therapy techniques with children, adolescents, adults and families. He is an international presenter who specializes in working with Autism Spectrum Disorder, neurodevelopmental disorders, and developmental disabilities and is the creator of AutPlay® Therapy, an autism treatment using play therapy, behavioral therapy and relationship development approaches. Dr. Grant has written five books on the subjects of play therapy, autism and ADHD, including AutPlay Therapy for Children and Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum: A Behavioral Play-Based Approach; Play-Based Interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorder and Other Developmental Disabilities; and The Autism Spectrum Disorder Workbook for Children. He is a professional board member for Stars for Autism and is a contributing writer for the Missouri Autism Report.

Continuing Education

George Fox University's NW Center for Play Therapy Studies will offer 6.0 contact hours of Continuing Education (CE) for each workshop day. The following approvals are available:

  • National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
  • Association for Play Therapy (APT Approved Provider 03-124)
  • National Association of Social Workers (NASW)

George Fox University/NW Center for Play Therapy Studies has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 4447. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. George Fox University/NW Center for Play Therapy Studies is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs. George Fox University/NW Center for Play Therapy Studies provides CE through the Association for Play Therapy [APT Approved Provider 03-134] and retains sole and ultimate responsibility for the quality, conduct of, and record-keeping for such programs. This program is approved by the National Association of Social Workers [Approval # 88-6411347] for six (6) continuing education contact hours.


The Graduate Department of Counseling at George Fox University is pleased to be the home of the Northwest Center for Play Therapy Studies (NWCPTS). Under the direction of Dr. Daniel Sweeney, the NWCPTS is the largest university-based center focused on the study and promotion of play therapy in the northwest United States.

The mission of the Northwest Center for Play Therapy Studies is to promote the healthy development and welfare of children and families through the process of play and filial therapy. In support of the relational, psychological and spiritual wholeness of children and families, the center seeks to fulfill this objective through the provision of play therapy, training, supervision, and learning resources for students and mental health professionals in the community.


The fee is $139 per day for each workshop, with a student discount rate of $99 per day. Attendance is limited, so early registration is recommended.

Registration after 5/22/17 is $155.00 each day. Cancellations must be received in writing 7 days prior to the conference to receive a refund, and are subject to a $25.00 processing fee. No refunds will be made after 5/29/17. In the unlikely event of a workshop cancellation, the NWCPTS is only responsible for a refund of the workshop fee.

Conference accommodation information will be sent with registration confirmation.

For further information, contact us at 503-554-6104 or email