The Eye of the Tiger: Understanding and Responding to Aggression and Death in Therapeutic Play

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

 “We use the relationship to allow our clients to re-experience dysregulating affects in affectively tolerable doses, in the context of a safe environment, so that overwhelming traumatic experiences can be regulated and integrated into the patient’s emotional life” (Dr. Allen Shore, 2003 ). For young children or children and adolescents who are developmentally younger, play therapy or other relationship-based therapies are seen as a valid intervention for addressing the emotional issues that may result from significantly stressful life events or traumas.  In the last several years researched focused on the neurobiology of trauma has examined our physiological response to stress and trauma, often referred to as “fight, flight, freeze and fold,” as having two different branches. One branch of the human trauma response is characterized by “hypo-arousal” (freeze, sleepiness, dissociation, collapse) and the second branch of the trauma response is characterized by “hyper-arousal” (hyper-alert, hyper-vigilant, defensive and aggressive). The challenge arises for most clinicians who work with children in a play therapy modality when the referred child is experiencing significant dysregulation. As therapists we are often thrown off balance ourselves when we are presented with a therapeutic relationship in which a client’s painful emotions result in opposition and aggression as well disturbing play related content.


Eating Disorders – Basics and Beyond

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

“This is an introductory course about Eating Disorders. It covers the basics for clinicians who have minimal experience with Eating Disorders, clarifies the DSM-5 criteria for Eating Disorder diagnoses, and goes beyond the basics in offering a comprehensive understanding of Eating Disorders and their treatment. In addition to diagnostic criteria, it addresses common temperament traits, factors contributing to Eating Disorders, goals and components of treatment, stages of change as they relate to the treatment of Eating Disorders, as well as the role of family in treatment, and the need for dietary structure in terms of a meal plan. The course will help clinicians to develop a good understanding of the complexity of Eating Disorders in terms of the contributing factors that span the personal (genetic, personality) and societal (culture, media), and the complexity of the components of treatment. Clinicians will also gain practical tools in better assessing Eating Disorders in their clients and increasing competence in understanding the needs of their clients with regard to treatment, the need for a team, and the need to assess/refer to the proper level of care.


Developmental Disorders and Other Pediatric Considerations

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

“Developmental disorders encompass many factors and a constellation of symptoms. Regardless of theory or theorist, development is about progress, growth, moving through or moving up. This can occur in a step-like progression or be circular. Developmental difficulties and ultimately disorders are labeled as such when a range of conditions and circumstances affect mood, thoughts and behaviors. Interruption in “normal” or “typical” development in childhood, regression or other problems can lead to a disorder.

This training is meant as an overview of “typical” development, brief introduction to some genetic conditions, developmental disorders, current treatments and therapies, and case studies. Time will be spent discussing managed care and other barriers to treatment. Discussion will also focus on co-occuring diagnoses, the school process and cultural factors.”



Wednesday, October 3, 2018

“This workshop is a 6-hour law/ethics workshop and is focused on recent and emerging developments in law and ethics that will impact clinicians of all disciplines with a particular focus on the affordable care act, ethical decision making, licensing board inquiries, models for providing therapy at a distance, threats of violence, avoiding client legal battles, subpoenas, depositions, and hearing, and treating children in high conflict divorce.”


Conceptual Understanding of OCD: How to Identify the “Doubting Disease”

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

“Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is one of the most difficult psychological disorders to diagnose. Rates of misdiagnosis are extremely high with estimates suggesting that primary care doctors misdiagnose over 50% of OCD cases. Even among mental health professionals, the rate of misdiagnosis approaches 40% (Glazier, Swing and McGinn, 2015).  Patients with OCD who are misdiagnosed often receive improper psychiatric and psychological treatment which has a potential for disastrous results. There are a number of reasons for the high rates of misdiagnosis.  One of the primary causes is the remarkably varied  and sometimes dramatic presentation of symptoms among OCD patients. This program offers a conceptual perspective of OCD that will aid in diagnosis by focusing clinicians on the core features of the disorder.”


Can a Therapist Ever Retire? Financial Transference, Financial Trauma, and Financial Health

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

“This course addresses long established and research areas that remain applicable in clinical practice for mental health clinicians and those they treat.  These areas of focus include: transference, countertransference, trauma, attachment, compassion fatigue, and the neurobiology of each.  It also invites providers’ attention to a specific areas of trauma and transference that affect providers’ well-being and long term self-care practices in the area of money and finance as it relates to current stress and future self care and retirement; areas equally important, but less commonly taught to graduate students or licensed mental health clinicians…”


Strategies for Treating Children & Families with Co-morbid Medical and Mental Health Conditions (Part 2)

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

“Children with comorbid medical and mental health concerns present for specialty mental health care with unique concerns. Building upon the introductory course, this workshop will focus on applying knowledge of common medical illness and their psychological sequelae to conceptualization, treatment planning, and intervention. Individual case studies will be presented and will allow the group to practice skills associated with integrating medical information into their treatment planning. Special emphasis will be placed on how to do this within the constraints of Department of Mental Health practice…”


Strategies for Treating Children & Families with Co-morbid Medical and Mental Health Conditions

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

“Children with comorbid medical and mental health concerns present for specialty mental health care with unique concerns. They often exhibit greater symptom severity and functional impairment which can in turn challenge how mental health providers implement interventions. Despite the clear connection between physical and mental health, mental health providers receive relatively little training in understanding and treating the relationship between physical and mental health, especially in the pediatric population. The purpose of this workshop is therefore to provide therapists with information and tools that they can use to treat clients and their families who present with both medical and mental health concerns.  This workshop will in particular address illnesses that have a large impact on mental health including, but not limited to: Diabetes, Asthma, Cystic Fibrosis, Seizure disorders, chronic pain, and gastrointestinal disorders (Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis).”


Introduction to Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

“Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY) is an evidenced-based treatment for adults affected by traumatic stress, which incorporates yoga principles and practices. TCTSY aims to support emotion regulation, stabilization, and skill building for adults with chronic, treatment-resistant posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); complex PTSD; dissociative disorders; and other related emotional and behavioral problems.

In TCTSY, elements of traditional yoga are modified to maximize tolerance, build trauma survivors’ experiences of empowerment, and cultivate a more positive relationship to one’s body. Trauma-informed alterations to accommodate unique needs and sensitivities include prioritizing gentleness in movement, removing strongly suggestive language, de-emphasizing posture intensity, eliminating hands-on assistance from the instructor, and highlighting opportunities for participants to adjust the practice and make selections that feel appropriate for themselves. (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2017).

TCTSY is an adjunctive trauma treatment to be utilized with other trauma informed psychotherapy or other evidenced-based trauma treatments. This program overviews the theoretical underpinnings of TCTSY, the methodology TCTSY, current research findings, and practice knowledge that inform the application of TCTSY.  This program offers an introduction to this material in order to increase the practitioner’s understanding of TCTSY.”


Unbreakable Bond: Using Play Therapy to Increase Positive Attachment with Children and Youth

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

“This workshop demonstrates how play therapy can be used to enhance the relationship between our clients and their caregivers. This workshop looks at the importance of the initial caregiver relationship and how it effects a person from birth and into adulthood. This workshop will provide therapist with tools and play interventions to address foundations in parenting and increasing awareness and positive attachment. This is an instructional and hands on training that will help play therapist use interactive tools that use touch, sensory stimulation, and play to increase connection and attachment skills. This workshop will provide play therapist with information pertaining to the different attachment styles, the effects of different attachment styles and how attachment effects one’s ability to functioning in life. This workshop will look at different techniques in play; directive, nondirective, and attachment work. The focus will be on the dyad and the importance of parent’s role in play. Workshop will review how therapist can best support and model for the caregiver. “


Law and Ethics Workshop: What Goes Around…

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

“What goes around….”  is a 6-hour law/ethics workshop and is focused on recent and emerging developments in law and ethics that will impact clinicians of all disciplines, starting with changes to child abuse reporting obligations,  then moving to cover changes for custody evaluators, record-keeping and maintenance, emerging issues and risks regarding telehealth practice, updates on duties to inform and warn when violent behavior may occur, modifications of laws concerning “retirement” of professionals, receiving subpoenas, testifying in court, risk management for supervisors, suicide risk management, and “selected slippery slopes.”



Good Vibrations, Sweet Sensations: Addressing Trauma Through Play Based Sensory Interventions

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The negative impact of trauma experiences on a child’s developing brain is pervasive, adversely affecting one’s thoughts, feelings, behaviors, physiological reactions, and social relationships. The nature, pattern, timing and duration of therapeutic experiences can change the brain in ways that allow for therapeutic growth and healing. Research has demonstrated the therapeutic powers of play in resolving childhood trauma, enabling the child to work through those experiences and regain a sense of safety in the world in a manner that is non-threatening (Norton & Norton, 2011). In this workshop, we will discuss the ways in which trauma experiences are organized in the brain and how therapeutic interventions should address the key areas that are impacted. Participants will also learn the basic tenets of experiential play therapy, as well as some sensory, play-based strategies to help a child heal from trauma.


Cultural Context of Trauma Recovery

There is a rich and growing body of literature on the cultural context of trauma recovery.  The ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association note that neglecting to attend to culture is unethical.  There is both theoretical and empirical support for clinician’s attending to cultural influences on trauma recovery.  This presentation will describe the effects of culture as well as provide recommendations for providing cultural congruent care to trauma survivors including both assessment and intervention strategies.  The first two hours will focus on interpersonal traumas such as sexual assault, child abuse, and intimate partner abuse while the last hour will focus on the interpersonal trauma of racist incident based trauma.  Clinician’s will be provided information on providing care for their clients and themselves.


Becoming Trauma Informed: An Introduction to the Neurosequential Models

The first two hours will be a screening of the documentary film , Paper Tigers, which
depicts the educational journey of teens with traumatic histories. [No continuing education
credit for watching the documentary.] The 1.5 hour workshop following the screening focuses on providing an overview of the core concepts and various methods of practical application of the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) and Neurosequential Model in Education (NME). NMT is a developmentally sensitive, neurobiologically-informed approach to clinical problem solving. NMT is not a specific therapeutic technique or intervention. It is an approach that integrates core principles of neurodevelopment and traumatology to inform work with children, families and the communities in which they live (Perry, 2006). The Model explains how traumatic experiences during different stages of development result in impaired functioning in various areas of the brain, offering a treatment approach to “target” impaired areas in a sequential manner to heal trauma from the “bottom-up” (Perry, 2006).


LGBTQ+ Cultural Competency: Focus on Best Practices with Gender Diverse Children and Youth

This workshop provides mental health clinicians an understanding of and clinical skills to work with children and youth with gender expansive and sexual orientation identities and development.  Participants will learn about the best clinical practices in therapeutic treatment as well as best LGBTQ + affirmative trauma informed practices that protect against gender and sexual identity discrimination and provide safe spaces.  The workshop also covers specific terms and definitions, myths, developmental processes related to sexual orientation, the role of the environment, historical models of gender expression, and the impact on mental health outcomes.


In Utero-Impact of Early Environment on Life

The first two hours will be a screening of  the documentary film, IN UTERO, which will showcase enlightening and oftentimes poignant interviews with experts and pioneers. IN UTERO paints a complex tapestry of the human experience from conception to birth. Tapping into cultural myths, popular movies, and technological trends, the film demonstrates how our experiences in utero preoccupy us throughout our lives. [No continuing education credit for watching the documentary.]

The 1.5 hour workshop following the screening focuses on  the intergenerational transmission of trauma and the power of resiliency. Experts in the fast-growing field of epigenetics explain that we are not only our genes but a product of our environment as well, a proven fact that changes our perception of stress and exposures to the environment during pregnancy. The workshop will provide information on how these environmental effects are passed down through the generations through our genes, making it scientifically plausible that a traumatic event that affected your grandma could leave a mark on your genes.  In addition, clinicians will learn how to interrupt the intergenerational transmission  and building resiliency in children and families.


Legal and Ethical Considerations in Clinical Practice

This workshop focuses upon client-therapist situations that exemplify various complex ethical dilemmas. Participants will learn to deal with ethical dilemmas such as (1) dealing with dangerous clients (suicide, Tarasoff), (2) updates to working with minors and family law, (3) updates to Tarasoff/Ewing, (4) contemporary issues related to personal and professional value conflicts, and (5) social networking and internet issues.  Literature updates, along with relevant Codes of Ethics and current expert opinion on standard of care will be included in all areas of discussion. This program overviews the current research findings and practice knowledge that informs the practice of ethical and legal clinical work. Emphasis will be placed upon prevention of ethical violations.