Annual Play Therapy Summer Institute

June 6-10, 2016

The NW Center for Play Therapy Studies is pleased sponsor its annual Play Therapy Summer Institute workshops June 6-10, 2016. For further information or a conference brochure, contact us at 503-554-6104 or email

When Someone in the Family is LGBT: Play Therapy to Support Children in a Heterosexually Oriented World

Monday, June 6, 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Kevin O’Connor

Being a member of any non-dominant cultural group comes with many challenges. Members of highly visible subgroups never have to think about disclosing who they are but they also cannot choose to blend into the dominant group when needed to escape discrimination. By contrast, LGBT children and family members often expend a great deal of energy deciding when to blend in order to be safe and when, where and with whom they can be their authentic selves. In this workshop, participants will first learn to identify the myriad issues faced by LBGT children as well as those who are both cisgendered and heterosexual but have LGBT family members. Next, Ecosystemic Play Therapy (EPT) will be reviewed as one strategy for addressing the needs of these children across the many systems in which they are embedded. Lastly, specific resources and interventions will be presented.

Kevin O'Connor

Kevin O’Connor, PhD, ABPP, RPT-S is a Clinical Psychologist and Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor. He is a Distinguished Professor, Coordinator of the Ecosystemic Clinical Child Psychology Emphasis and Director of the Ecosystemic Play Therapy Training Center at Alliant International University - Fresno. He is the cofounder and a Director Emeritus of the Association for Play Therapy and has received the APT Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. O’Connor is the author of numerous books including: The Play Therapy Primer, 2nd Edition, co-author of Play Therapy Treatment Planning and Interventions, 2nd Edition, and co-editor of the Handbook of Play Therapy, Volumes I & II and Play Therapy Theory and Practice, 2nd Edition. He regularly presents workshops across the United States and abroad, having presented in Canada, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Mexico, Portugal, Singapore, and South Africa. Finally, Dr. O’Connor is a Board Certified Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychologist and Fellow of the American Psychological Association who maintains a small private practice treating children and adults.

Sand Tray Therapy Through the Lens of Interpersonal Neurobiology

Tuesday, June 7, 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Theresa Kestly

When you combine sand tray therapy with current trends in the mental health field toward a focus on interpersonal neurobiology (IPNB), you have the potential to greatly enhance its effectiveness. Viewing this modality through the lens of IPNB also strengthens it as a science-informed therapeutic modality. In this presentation, concepts of IPNB that are already familiar to many play therapists will be discussed in the context of this play therapy modality including: (1) working at the regulatory edges of the window of tolerance, (2) the play circuitry in the brain as introduced by Jaak Panksepp, (3) the polyvagal theory of play according to Stephen Porges, (4) Daniel Siegel's ideas of the storytelling brain, and (5) the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions by Barbara Fredrickson. The integration of these theories within the practical applications of sand tray therapy will be the focus of this presentation demonstrating the idea that play therapy has a solid scientific basis as seen in the example of this particular modality. In this workshop there will be a balance of didactic and hands-on experiences to convey and clarify these concepts.

Theresa Kestly

Theresa Kestly, PhD, RPT-S is a clinical psychologist, educator, consultant and a registered play therapist/supervisor. She is author of the The Interpersonal Neurobiology of Play: Brain-Building Interventions for Well-Being, part of the Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology. In her private practice in Corrales, New Mexico, she specializes in play therapy and sand tray therapy with children, adults, families and couples. Theresa has worked with Native Americans over a number of years as a teacher and consultant. She is past president of the New Mexico Association for Play Therapy, and she is the founder and director of the Sand Tray Training Institute of New Mexico in Corrales, New Mexico.

Family Ties: Using Family Play Therapy to Loosen Binds and Strengthen Bonds

Wednesday, June 8, 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Daniel Sweeney and Nick Cornett

Despite the increasing recognition of the importance of family-oriented clinical practices, research suggests that children are often left out of family therapy, and families are often left out of play therapy. Clinicians who encounter families with young children frequently report discomfort and a lack of training in how to work with this population in ways that are developmentally appropriate and inclusive of the entire family. Family play therapy “levels the playing field” for all members of the family, particularly children. Children are honored when they are treated as equal members of the family – their valuable contribution to the family treatment process is lost when they are not given the opportunity to participate. In this workshop, participants will explore the theoretical and research-based rationale for using family play therapy with children and their families. Come see how family play therapy can provide a developmentally appropriate and inclusive approach for working with the entire family!

Daniel Sweeney

Daniel Sweeney, PhD, LMFT, LPC, RPT-S is a Professor of Counseling, Director of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, and Director of the NW Center for Play Therapy Studies at George Fox University in Portland, Oregon. He is a past board member and president of the Association for Play Therapy. Dr. Sweeney maintains a small private practice and is an international presenter. He is author or co-author of several books, including Play Therapy Interventions with Children's Problems, Counseling Children Through the World of Play, Sandtray Therapy: A Practical Manual, The Handbook of Group Play Therapy, and Group Play Therapy: A Dynamic Approach. Dr. Sweeney and his wife live in Portland, Oregon near their four adult children and grandchildren.

Nick Cornett

Nick Cornett, PhD, LMFT, LPC, RPT is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate Counseling Program at John Brown University where he primarily teaches courses on working with families using family systems theory, family therapy, and family play therapy. His interest in using play therapy with children and families began while he was completing his doctoral studies at the University of North Texas, where he had the opportunity to receive extensive training, supervision, and experience in working therapeutically with young children and their families using play therapy. Dr. Cornett is published and a frequent presenter.

Child Parent Relationships Therapy (CPRT): An Evidence-Based 10-Session Filial Therapy Model

Thursday & Friday, June 9/10 , 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. [must register for both days]
Garry Landreth

This two-day workshop will focus on the dynamic relationship facets of training parents to be therapeutic agents in their children’s lives. Using a format of didactic instruction, demonstration play sessions, required at-home play sessions, and supervision – parents are taught basic child-centered play therapy principles and skills including tracking, responsive listening, reflecting feelings, returning responsibility to children, the ACT model of limit setting, building children’s self-esteem and how to structure weekly 30-minute play sessions with their children using a special kit of selected toys.

This is a practical “how to” workshop that includes training/treatment outlines for the 10 sessions, how to teach child-centered play therapy skills, toys and materials needed, techniques for involving parents in the learning process, balancing training and meeting parents emotional needs, utilizing group dynamics, and facilitative supervision. Demonstrations and video segments of Dr. Landreth’s CPRT parent training sessions clarify the training process. CPRT’s preventative nature and relatively brief treatment time frame make this treatment model attractive in today’s mental health climate.

Gary Landreth

Garry Landreth, EdD, LPC, RPT-S is internationally recognized for his writings and work in promoting the development of child-centered play therapy, is a Regents Professor Emeritus and founder of the Center for Play Therapy at the University of North Texas. Dr. Landreth is a frequent speaker at play therapy conferences around the world. His more than 150 journal articles, books and videos include the 2014 DVD CPRT In Action: Four Couples In A CPRT Group and the 3rd edition of his award-winning book Play Therapy: The Art of the Relationship. Dr. Landreth’s other recent books are Child Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT): A 10-Session Filial Therapy Model and an accompanying Child Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT) Treatment Manual. His CPRT Model received the Best Practices in Parent/Family Education Award. Dr. Landreth is Director Emeritus of the Association for Play Therapy (APT). He received the APT Lifetime Achievement Award, the APT Research Award, and the Virginia Axline Distinguished Professional Award for his work in conceptualizing and advancing the child-centered approach to play therapy. Dr. Landreth is an Honorary Visiting Research Professor at the University of Roehampton in England.

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 [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 is an 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 fee is $139 per day for each workshop, with a student discount rate of $89 per day. Registration will be available soon.

Conference accommodation information.

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