Play Therapy Community Inspiration, Information, & Connection for Child Therapists Around the World | ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Child Parent Relationship Therapy, School Counseling Behavior Therapy, Sandtray Therapy,

Play Therapy Community will present a fresh, insightful episode once a week, usually on Thursday mornings. On this podcast, we will cover topics such as play therapy techniques and resources, group therapy, maternal mental health, picky eaters, struggles in school, behavioral issues, grief and loss, and so much more. We’ll also delve into specific diagnosis such as ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Specific Learning Disabilities, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, etc. Difficult topics, such as parenting through separation/divorce, depression, anxiety struggles, relationship struggles, and such will be explored as well. As the host of Play Therapy Community, I feel honored that you are joining us on this journey for knowledge to truly help our children in a way that honors their mind, body, and soul. My name is Jackie Flynn, and I’m a Licensed Psychotherapist, Registered Play Therapist, Education Specialist, Adolescent Life Coach and a Parent Educator.
RSS Feed
Play Therapy Community Inspiration, Information, & Connection for Child Therapists Around the World | ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Child Parent Relationship Therapy, School Counseling Behavior Therapy, Sandtray Therapy,




All Episodes
Now displaying: Page 1
Jan 11, 2018

Lisa Dion is the creator of Synergetic Play Therapy and is the founder and director of the Play Therapy Institute of Colorado


She is experienced in many settings to include private practice, schools, social services, foster care agencies, and orphanages. 


Synergetic Play Therapy’s name was influenced by Lisa’s love for the brain and understanding what happens in the nervous system.  


The collaboration between the child and the therapist, and on a deeper level between the mind, breath, body is an important support in the therapeutic process.  Through this realization, she was drawn to the word “synergy” since it is the idea that when 2 parts come together, the effect is so much greater than what they are individually.   Collaboration within the therapist, child and between them both is cultivated.


Through Lisa’s work, before she created Synergetic Play Therapy, she felt like something was missing.  She had a personal experience with her daughter that gave her an intuitive felt sense of the importance of bringing in the nervous system getting into the somatics.  Becoming an external regulator can take it to a deeper level of healing.  Accessing the brainstem allows for work involving the level of attunement such as what’s present between a caregiver and an infant. 

Lisa’s students say that it feels like a way of being rather than a model.  Her students report transforming through the process and it spills over into their other relationships.


Synergetic Play Therapy is not a list of fun techniques or activities to do with the child, but rather it is a “way of being”.


One of her students said, “Synergetic Play Therapy gives birth to the authentic self within the child and the therapist.”


Lisa urges her students to study as many philosophies and models of play therapy as possible to maximize their abilities. 


Implicit memories bring a feeling and a felt sense that was placed in the early years.  Often before the age 3, the implicit memories provide the structures in the brain. 


When Lisa’s daughter was born, she was emotionally dysregulated. While Lisa was pregnant with her, they both experienced a car crash. When she was born, Lisa was on a journey to help her rewire her nervous system.  She had her first play therapy experience at 9 months old where she played out shock of what she felt when the car accident happened. 


The exchange happening between the therapist and the child is such a vital part of therapy.


Synergetic play therapy teaches the therapist what to do with their personal experience of what the child is feeling and experiencing through the play.  


When parents are dysregulated, they need to regulate before they tend to their child.


The therapist does a lot of breathing, and modeling for the child.  

The mirror neuron system allows the child to borrow the therapist’s regulatory system.  Therapist use themselves to support the child through their healing.  The therapist is intentionally authentic and may rock, say things, and do things that the child needs right in the moment.


Lisa tells a story of a child that had many generalized fears that learned regulatory techniques such as holding her heart and stomach while she did that during his expressions of the fearful scenerios.  In session 3, he reported that he knew what to do when he got scared.  He was able to borrow her nervous system, watch how she handled the situations, and internalized a way of taking care of himself during these types of situations. Through that process, his nervous system got rewired organically and experientially. 


This process also helps keep the therapist well during the process.


Synergetic Play Therapy also offers a certification option as well. 


Lisa has a new book coming out in Spring of 2018, “Aggression in Play Therapy: A Neurobiological Approach for Integrating Intensity” from Norton Publishers. 


Lessons from the Playroom bi-weekly Podcast

Hour Live Webinar – 1 x a month

Community Membership

Play Therapy Institute of Colorado’s Website:


Jan 4, 2018
  • Jill Aller is an adoption consultant for A Step Ahead Adoption Services and is an adoptive mom of two children, ages 6 and 4. 
  • Jill has a B.A. in Psychology, a Master’s degree in Teaching and an Ed.S. degree in Counseling. She adopted her two children through the help of A Step Ahead adoption services and had such a great experience with them that she went to work for them four years ago. Both children have very open adoptions, where they are still in touch with their biological families. Jill has lived all over the U.S. but is now happily settled in Florida with her extended family. Jill is passionate about helping others navigate their adoption journeys in a mindful, balanced way.
  • The language that we use helps shape the way we think about adoption.
  • The feeling that the language reflects becomes our children’s inner voice.
  • “She gave up the baby for adoption” sounds like a rejection.  “She placed the baby for adoption” or she made an adoption plan” is a much better way to phrase it.  This sounds helpful and intentional.  It feels loving and nurturing.
  • Jill talks to her children in an active voice about adoption with phrases such as “we adopted then” to put the focus on her putting the effort into making them a part of her family.
  • More positive phrases include “birth family, tummy mommy, first family” instead of “the real mom”.  It evolves as they get over.  
  • Since all of the people connected by adoption are connected by love.  It is a pain entered into willingly connected by love.
  • Others my say things such as “she’s so lucky to have you” out of good intention, but it can be construed as the biological family not being good.  It’s important to be mindful of the message that is conveyed and make sure it is focused more on the love shared. Statements such as “it’s so great to see you as a family” is ideal.  
  • It’s important to honor the birth family with your words. 
  • Being mindful of the language used to communicate about adoption is important for children and adults. 
  • It’s important to allow the adoptee to voice their feelings.  Asking open ended questions can be so helpful.  
  • Many of the baby boomers are just finding out they are adopted.  This environment harbors pain and shame. Talking about it openly can be really supportive. 
  • There’s a continuum between closed and open adoption.  Closed adoption is where the parents may not know anymore than their names.  A semi-open is where they communicate through a 3rd party. An open adoption, often best for the mental health of the child and the birth family, is when theirs open connection. It’s important to note that open adoption isn’t always best for all families 
  • Child Connect is a site that links families together.
  • When therapists work with adoptees, its important to allow space for grief and loss.
  • Adoption triad – birth family, adopted family, and the child.
  • Jill recommends the book 20 Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Know by Sherrie Eldridge.
  • Family therapy can be really beneficial to help the entire family.
  • Support groups can be incredibly helpful.
  • Online support, consulting, and other connections can be really helpful. 
  • Connecting through groups can provide support and healing that can be found elsewhere.
  • Jill recommends “The Family Book” by Todd Parr . It’s about adoption, but not soley about adoption. 
  • Another book that she recommends is “It’s Okay to be Different” also by Todd Parr.
  • Jill really likes the “Adoptive Families” magazine.
  • The Center for Adoption Support Education, CASE, is a great education resource.
  • Adoption Counsel is a great resource at https://www.adoptioncouncil.orgA Step Ahead Adoption is a nationwide agency that helps people build their family in a healthy way.. There’s a focus on helping the birth family.
  • There’s many great children’s books such as “A Mother for Choco”, “Tell Me a Real Adoption Storyadop”, “ABC: Adoption and Me”, and the “Tummy Mummy”. 


Dec 7, 2017
  1. “In between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” 
    ~ Viktor Frankl



  1. "Nobody can bring you peace but yourself."  ~  Ralph Waldo Emerson


  1. "Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love." ~  Mother Teresa



  1. "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." ~ Lao-Tzu



  1. "By changing nothing, nothing will change."  ~  Tony Robbins


  1. "You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation."  ~  Plato


  1. "Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow."  -  Mary Anne Radmocher


  1. “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”  - Maya Angelou
  1. When parents offer their children empathy and help them to cope with negative feelings like anger, sadness, and fear, parents build bridges of loyalty and affection.” - Gottman


  1. “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
    - Maya Angelou


  1. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou


  1. “Every person must choose how much truth he can stand.” - Irvin Yalom, PhD.
  1. “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
  2. Don’t try to win over the haters; you are not a jackass whisperer.”-  Brene Brown 
  3. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” - Theodore Roosevelt



Nov 30, 2017

Katie May is the “Group Guru”.


She works exclusively with teenagers in a teen support center in Flourtown, Pennsylvania.  


Groups energize Katie. She says that groups can’ save th’e world.  


In groups, people feel less alone in their struggles and they start to heal in ways that individual therapy can’t provide. 


Her groups are focused on the ideas of connection.


She told us about a group that she runs that looks at being nonjudgmental for teens.  She talked about using rocks to illustrate the judgements that they have for themselves.  She has them decorate the rocks to describe the judgements and toss them away as a concrete expression of getting rid of their judgements.  The teens put the rocks in a bag, weigh them and then toss them away into the water. This helps with processing of letting go of the judgements.  


Sometimes her groups do a “compliment circle” to express and receive kindness from others. Her pre and post assessment of their state of happiness improves after the kindness circle occurs.  


Katie prefers clear names for groups, rather than clever names.  This helps to make the process for the parents and caregivers looking for support for their child finding the groups simple and understanding .


Many times, teens can present with resistance towards therapy. 


Katie runs a skills group for teens.  The connection that they have with each other is really important.


She offers Dialectical Behavioral Therapy that she infuses in many of her groups. She provides experiential activities to help them actually know what works for them and how it feels. 



Group therapy helps clients feel understood and connected to a positive support system.  When people can connect with their peers to feel less alone.  Social support is so very important and can be a positive experience.


Group therapy isn’t the best setting for deeper individual work that may involve trauma.  Also, it can be challenging to balance time between the group members.   Another con is that the group members’ personalities don’t always mesh. 


It’s so important to build trust and let the relationships form before diving into tough stuff.  It’s important to put yourself into the group member’s shoes.


Nov 23, 2017

Build Love Maps

Knowing each other’s world is so vital to the health of a relationship.  It’s important to make exploration of each other’s world an ongoing effort.  This can help strengthen the relationship and help each person in the relationship to feel felt and cared about.

Share Fondness and Admiration

Fondness and admiration is noticing what’s going right and what’s good rather than putting a focus on the negative.  If couples are in “Negative Sentiment Override” as Gottman calls them.


Turn Towards

Turning towards your partner, both literally and figuratively is important as it sends a message that “you matter”, “I care”, “you’re important to me”.  Gottman uses the metaphor of a RELATIONSHIP BANK ACCOUNT to illustrate the need for 5 times as many positives to every one negative in a relationship.  Turning towards and accepting “bids for connection”, such as holding hands, inviting on an outing, snuggling, etc. is important to build the relationship bank account up so that when there are negatives, it doesn’t go into a negative balance. 


The Positive Perspective

The positive perspective focuses on friendships.  When couples engage in a strong friendship, then they can weather the storms better.  They have a stronger tolerance for difficult circumstances.

Manage Conflict

Sixty nine percent of the conflict in a relationship is perpetual, which means it doesn’t have a clear resolution.  Often couples need to move towards compromising on issues.  It’s important that couples learn how to use soft startup and avoid the 4 patterns of communications that can eat away at a relationship: Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt, Stonewalling.  Gottman refers to these as the 4 Horsemen.

Make Life Dreams Come True

Having fun, adventures and dreams together, as well as honoring each other’s dreams is so vital towards the health of a relationship. Couples that laugh and have fun together often have a much healthier relationship.


Create Shared Meaning

Together, couples build a shared culture that incorporates what each of them knew to be true in their formative years, as well as new things that they do together in their own relationship and their own family.  Also, what legacy they want to leave in the world together is explored.


Trust and Commitment

Trust & Commitment are the walls of the sound relationship house.  If these walls are weakened in any way, the entire house could be at risk from falling.  Through repair work, couples can repair ruptures and move towards healed trust and commitment that can weather the storms of a relationship.


Nov 16, 2017

Double Mirror Doodle

  • Using a large piece of paper and 2 crayons, have the student doodle a mirror image design. This helps with grounding, focus, and clarity through bilateral integration of both hemispheres of the brain. 
    • Materials
      • Large Paper 
      • 2 crayons

What Happened Next

  • Using a large piece of paper and something to write with, have the student sequentially tell the story of what happened from beginning to the end.  This narrative supports "top-down" processing of the event. 
    • Materials
      • Large Paper
      • Pen, Pencil, or Crayons

Tumbling Blocks Conversation Prompts

  • Using a Jenga (or generic version) game, the child and the counselor will pull a block and respond to the prompt on the block.  This can be used for a variety of topics to include coping skills, social situations, icebreaker, friendship skills, etc. 

Pick-Up Straws

  • Using straws, students will pick up a straw and respond to a prompt coordinated with the color-coded prompts on a list of prompts in variety of areas.
    • Materials
      • Package of Straws with a Variety of Colors

Career Charades 

  • In this activity, the child(re) will act out a carreer while the others guess.  It can be an ice breaker or connecting activity as well for groups.  
    • Slips of paper with careers or modified prompts to direct the child on what to act out in charades style.

Career Creation 

Through clay creations, the child or teen will mold the dough or clay to form a symbolic representation of the career.  For example, they may create a toothbrush for a dentist.  This can be modified to fit the topic of the area in need of supporting, such as emotional literacy and expression, family system support, and much more. 


Social / Emotional/Friendship Thumballs

  • In this activity, the ball is tossed to each player.   The person catching the ball will respond to the word, statement, response closest to the player’s right thumb.  Write words, statements, responses on the ball with a permanent marker.  Themes could be “Ice Breaker”, “Social Situations”, “Emotional Literacy”, etc…
    • Materials
      • Large Air Filled Ball
      • Black Permanent Marker


Fishing for Solutions

  • In this activity, each child “fishes” for a statement or a question.  Once the child “catches’ a fish, he/she responds to the group. 
    • Materials
      • Foam Sheets (variety of colors)
      • Permanent Black Marker 
      • Small Round Magnets
      • ½ “ x 2’ Dowel Rod 
      • 1’ of Twine
      • Large Metal Bucket
      • Large Blue Cloth 
      • (Cut foam pieces in the shape of a fish.  Glue a round magnet on the fish shape for the eye.  Create a fishing pole by tying and gluing the twine to the end of the string.  At the end of the string, glue a round magnet.)



  • In this activity, each person creates a design in the circle.  This art therapy directive can differ based on goals for the activity (team building, expression, calming, etc…).  After completion, a group discussion can be initiated to explore the process and any feelings that surface…
    • Materials
      • Large Sheet of Paper 
      • Round Object for Circle Shape to Trace on the Paper 
      • Crayons, Markers, and/or Paint


Therapeutic Books with Activities to Address Various Issues

  • “Have You Filled Your Bucket Today” (Relationships)  In this activity, the child(ren) will write down positive, helpful statements to others on the slips of paper, then place in others’ “bucket” to symbolize kind acts.
    • Bucket(s)
    • Small Slips of Paper
    • Writing Instruments
  • “Invisible String” (Grief and Loss)  In this activity, the child will illustrate pictorially the people that they feel connected as in the metaphor of the invisible string that is represented with clear glue.
    • Paper
    • Glue
    • Crayons
  • “Personal Space Camp” (Social Appropriateness)  In this activity, the child learns about the appropriate amount of space to allow for peers and others in their familiarity with the visual aid  of a hula hoop. The child is to be directed to notice the distance as it is an appropriate for personal space.
  • Hula Hoop

Positive Belief "I am..." Activity

In this activity, the child “ranks” each statement depending on feelings of accuracy.  Statements can be adapted to individual / group.  The final rank of statements could then be discussed for self-awareness and a starting point for self-image concerns

  • Materials
    • Printed sheet with the following statements, cut into strips.
      • I am CONFIDENT
      • I am INTELLIGENT
      • I am CREATIVE
      • I am HUMOROUS
      • I am KIND
      • I am CONFIDENT
      • I am GOOD
      • I am CAPABLE


Self-Talk Thought Bubble

  • This activity is most effective when it is frontloaded with psychoeducation to teach the child about self-talk and how it impacts various situations such as test anxiety, social situations, etc....  To create the dialogue bubble, cut the poster board in the desired shape with a head shaped hole in the middle.  Instruct the child to write some positive and negative self-talk statements on the board.  Each statement can be used as a participatory discussion starter to strengthen the child’s understanding of the importance of using positive self-talk to better situations.
    • Materials
      • Large Posterboard
      • Sharpie Marker
      • Scissors
Nov 9, 2017

Dr. Taylor is an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida.  

She’s also the Center for Play Therapy Training and Research Director, as well as the Play Therapy Certificate coordinator.  


She earned her graduate degrees from the University of North Texas. 


She learned from many of the leaders in the Play Therapy world.  


Dr. Taylor is trained in Adlerian Play Therapy developed in the early 1990’s by Terry Kottman, Ph.D., Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor, NCC, LMHC



Adlerian’s belief is that people’s behavior is purposeful and goal-directed.  Their early childhood experiences influence their behavior, as well as how they view themselves, others and their world. 


4 Phases of Adlerian Play Therapy

(1) Relationship Building – This phase of the therapy is non-directive and supports safety in the play room.  By creating a shared power, the client can really feel like a significant person in their world.  This phase supports building trust within the child. 

(2) Investigating the Lifestyle – In this phase, the therapist becomes more directive in their work.  A focus is placed on how they view themselves, others, and the world.  There are a lot of things to take into consideration for the client, especially information on their personality, how do they feel like they matter in the world.  

(3) Gaining Insight – At this point in the therapeutic process, the therapist has a really good idea how the child is viewing themselves, others and world. The treatment plan is developed after phase 2, once the therapist has a good idea of who the child is and how they view the world.

(4) Reorientation –In this phase, the therapist teaches the children skillsets through role play, family work, and more.  One of the goals is to directly support their ability to generalize the skills in different settings to support their self-efficacy.


The therapist looks for signs that the child is ready to move into  each phase. 

It’s important to truly understand the child’s lifestyle.


These 3 things are across each of the categories in the lifestyle: 

  • Goals for Change
  • Strategies
  • Progress


Parent consultation is an important component of Adlerian Play therapy.  Half of the session is spent with the child and ½ of the session is spent with the parent or every other session with parent then with child is scheduled.  


During the therapy, the parent is also following the 4 phases. During the parent consultation, how the parent is viewing the world is explored since it greatly influences their parenting approach. 


During the parent consultation, the parent learns many of the same skills as the child, so that they can respond to the child in a different way that is supportive of the treatment plan for the child. 


Dr. Taylor highly recommends reading Partners in Play by Terry Kottman 3rd Edtion.


Crucial C’s of Adlerian Play Therapy 


  • Courage 
  • Connect
  • Capable 
  • Count


It’s important for each therapist to choose a theory that aligns with how you also view the world to foster authenticity of delivery of services. 


The relationship is the most critical element of the therapy.  





Nov 2, 2017

Dr. Stacy Van Horn is currently a full-time faculty member and School Counseling Coordinator at the University of Central Florida in the Counselor Education and School Psychology Program within the Department of Child, Family and Community Sciences. She teaches graduate students at both the masters and doctoral level primarily in the areas of career development, counseling with children and adolescents, ethical and legal issues in professional school counseling, and coordination of comprehensive, developmental school counseling programs. She also supervises practicum students in the Community Counseling and Research Clinic (CCRC) on campus and school counseling interns throughout Central Florida schools.   Prior to her position as a Counselor Educator, Dr. Van Horn worked as a professional school counselor for over nine years in Orange County Public Schools working with diverse students, teachers, and families in Central Florida.  Dr. Van Horn has experience in creating and coordinating comprehensive, developmental school counseling programs at both the elementary and middle school level.  In addition, she has experience collaborating with exceptional education school personnel on developing strategies and counseling approaches for exceptional education students.  Her current research interests include training and supervision of professional school counselors, counseling interventions with diverse children and adolescents, and the role of professional school counselors in providing effective career development in schools.  Dr. Van Horn has presented at national, regional, state, and local counseling conferences, including American Counseling Association, Association for Specialists

Prior to her position as a Counselor Educator, Dr. Van Horn worked as a professional school counselor for over nine years in Orange County Public Schools working with diverse students, teachers, and families in Central Florida.  Dr. Van Horn has experience in creating and coordinating comprehensive, developmental school counseling programs at both the elementary and middle school level.  In addition, she has experience collaborating with exceptional education school personnel on developing strategies and counseling approaches for exceptional education students.  Her current research interests include training and supervision of professional school counselors, counseling interventions with diverse children and adolescents, and the role of professional school counselors in providing effective career development in schools.  Dr. Van Horn has presented at national, regional, state, and local counseling conferences, including American Counseling Association, Association for Specialists for Group Work, American School Counseling Association, the Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision, Florida Counseling Association, the Florida School Counselor Association, and invited presenter at the Florida Association for Gifted Children.  


School Counselors have a unique role within the school setting. A school counselor works as a vital part of a team and stakeholders. 

  • Primarily, School Counselors work within 3 primary domains: Academic Development, Career Development, and Social/Emotional Development. 
    • Elementary counselors may teach more classroom guidance lessons, identify students in need of more support in regards to specialized programs, connecting with parents through parent conferences, and more…  
    • Middle school counselors may facilitate more small groups, put greater focus on peer interaction, help students with communication skills, and engage in more career exploration with students.  
    • High school counselors tend to provide more 1 on 1 counseling, coordinate bigger school events and assemblies, conduct credit checks, advise students on credit requirements and class selection, prepare students for college with college readiness activities, coordinate / conduct testing, and focus on students’ transition into college.  School counselors are so vital at every level!
  • It’s really important for others to know the role of a School Counselor to maximize the benefits of this important role. This is sometimes a big challenge in the field as this is predefined.  Students from University of Central Florida (UCF) are prepared to articulate the role to others.
  • School counselors can interact with students in several ways to include, but not limited to one on one, small group, classroom guidance, assemblies, etc... 
  • Counseling provided by a school counselor is much different than therapy in a clinical setting.  School counselors often experientially provide students with coping skills to help with managing anger, healthy friendships, solid study skills, mindfulness techniques, and much more. 
  • School Counselors often conduct career days, Red Ribbon Week activities, award assemblies, extra-curricular activities, etc…
  • It’s helpful for School Counselors to observe students in different environments.
  • It’s so important to be visible as a School Counselor to the parents, administrators… and most importantly the students. 
  • School counselors can also provide trainings to teachers.  Dr. Van Horn polled teachers to see what areas they would like to learn more about.  She remembers a training that she offered while she was in the role of a School Counselor on “How to Have a Strength-Based Meeting”.   In this training, her team role played to take the learning to a deeper learning to an experiential level. 
  • School counselors often conduct several meetings throughout the years, IEP, 504s, behavior support, etc.  
  • It can be really helpful for school counselors to connect with child therapists in their area.
  • Advantages of Being a School Counselor - School counselors have so much impact on students over weeks, over the school year, and over the course of several years.  School counseling is a unique profession, as rarely are 2 days the same. It’s so helpful to work together as a team with all of the stakeholders such as parents, teachers, administrators, etc. Unlike therapists, a school counselor has the advantage of seeing the child throughout the day in a variety of settings.  Often School Counselors are the first line of support to students. School Counselors may have request slips that the students can submit to request support that doesn’t require consent from parents, session fees, or many of the other limitations that may prevent a student from obtaining help when needed. Dr. Van Horn speaks of “Cluster Groups” within the school to discuss creative ideas, opportunities and such. 
  • Disadvantages of Being a School Counselor -  Often school counselors are faced with limited time, limited resources, limited student connection time, lunch duty, etc.  School counselors often wear many different hats: testing coordinator, scheduling, lunch duty personnel, car loop support, credit checks, child study meetings, and so much more.  All of these roles can create confusion on the role of a school counselor and can take them away from services that utilizing their specialized skills to help students in the best way.   
  • Sometimes School Counselors face a lack of support.
  • School Counselors benefit from placing a focus on how they can take care of their own personal emotional and physical wellness as they can be pulled in so many directions that ca be emotionally draining.  It’s important to establish boundaries to keep emotionally healthy. 
  • School counselors benefit from knowing great therapists in the community so that they have good referrals to provide to their students in need.  Sometimes School Counselors co-present with therapists in their community to their parents and their staff, as well as to create trainings and workshops. 
  • Relationships between school counselors and child and family therapists in the community are so beneficial.
  • When crises happen in schools, relationships within helpers in the communities can make such a huge difference. 
  • Dr. Van Horn talks about when she realized that she couldn’t have her “to do” list checked at the end of the day.  She normalized the feeling of overwhelm with so many tasks in a limited amount of time. 
  • Play therapy techniques can be used by school counselors in a low-cost way that can be implemented in efficient ways. 
  • What does a "typical" day in the life of school counselor look like?  School counselors really don’t have a “typical” day. Each day can look so different. 

Learn More about Dr. Van Horn at UCF

Association for School Counselors, ASCA 

Jackie’s Play Therapy Community

Jackie’s Private Practice

Jackie’s Consulting Support

Oct 26, 2017

Pam Dyson, MA, LPC-S, RPT-S, is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor, Registered Play Therapist Supervisor, child development expert and parenting coach.  In addition to her private practice  in Plano, Texas she provides consultation and supervision services and facilitates play therapy workshops at conferences throughout the US. She is the recipient of the Association for Play Therapy 2013 Key Award for Professional Education and Training and is currently serving a three-year term on the APT Board of Directors. Pam is the founder and director of the DFW Center for Play Therapy Training. 



In this episode, Pam shares with us how she put together her office space.  


After a few times of moving her office, she has tweaked her set up until she created it just like she wants it.


Pam selected her toys and materials strategically, based on influence from Garry Landreth’s work.  She referenced his book, Play Therapy: The Art of the Relationship .


She has toys from each category: Expressive, Aggressive, & Nurturing.  This helps her to determine what toys she has it in her play room.  


Each toy that she has was selected based on its therapeutic value.  How it can help the child express and release their emotions should be considered.  


It’s important to have real-life toys, expressive materials, blocks, playdough, and more.  Here’s a link to a recommended toy list:


Pam’s space is an organized and calming space.


Pam has 2 plain looking dollhouses in her space.  Having 2 doll houses can help children play out what it is like transitioning between 2 homes. 


“We can’t always change what’s going on around them, in their world, in their environment.  But, we can help them improve the way they feel about themselves.” Pam Dyson


Naming the child’s emotion is helpful for the child to process situations in their life. 


Playing activates the right hemisphere of the brain while naming the emotion activates the left.  This supports integration of the 2 hemispheres, which allows the child to fully process.


Pam couldn’t imagine doing the work that she does without play because integrating both sides of the brain is so important.  


In Pam’s space, there's a little table that she uses with her clients for many different purposes.  


Pam intentionally puts everything in the same place, so that her clients know where things are located.  Since they use the toys like we use words, it’s important for them to be able to find their words easily.  


It’s important that there’s a sense of order in the playroom, so it feels like a safe, predictable experience for them. 


Pam makes the distinction between Sandtray and Sandplay therapy.  She uses Sandtray therapy in a separate room to use with older clients either individually with their parents.   


Having 2 separate rooms, Play Therapy Room for younger clients and a Sandtray Room for older clients, Pam can best help both ages.  And it helps lesson clean-up time as well.  


Pam allots 15 minutes for clean-up time before the next client.  She doesn’t feel too rushed in between clients.  She starts each session on top of the hour.


She has an observation window in the play room to facilitate Child Parent Relationship Therapy.  She also uses it to train other therapists how to work with the child.  It has recording capacity for training purposes and self-evaluation as well.  She always obtains written permission before recording. She records for clinical trainings mostly. 


Pam is the director the DFW Center for Play Therapy.  She offers 2 workshops a month for people interested in learning how to do Play Therapy.  She’s an approved provider for the Association for Play Therapy.  Her trainings offer continuing education credits.  She really enjoys it.


Play Therapy can be used across the lifespan.  It looks a bit different but can be used with any age.


Merchandise is available at Pam’s trainings.  Her trainees can buy toys and miniatures and begin to implement what they learned right away. 


Her workshops are experiential in nature to support that integration of the brain for the therapists as well.


To tour Pam’s space, visit


Pam meets with the parents before she meets with the child.  Based on the information from that session, she makes a recommendation on how to best work with the child.  She has a parent consultation room that is comfortable and cozy, which she also uses for family therapy sometimes.  


Pam keeps a bowl of fidget toys in the room to help ground and relax her clients and their parents.  

Pam is a doodler!  It helps keeps her focused while on the phone, at conferences, etc.


Pam models playing with the child for the parent.  She stresses the importance of leaving the phone and other electronics in the other room while playing with their child so they can be more present. Weekly playtimes can be so valuable. 


It’s really important to involve the parent in the therapeutic process as much as possible.

Pam shares lots of free videos on her social media sites. 


Play Therapy Community 

Tour Pam’s Office

Trainings - 

Pinterest -

Youtube -














Jun 29, 2017

In this episode Billie Jo covers the following:


  • Description of what Infant Mental Health is and what professional support in this area involves.
  • A discussion on the impact that ages 0-3 has on a child’s development – emotional, physical, cognitive, etc.
  • Clarification of who could benefit from Infant Toddler Mental Health Support
  • Tips for therapists working with children and families.


Jun 22, 2017

Ellis Edmunds is a licensed psychologist in Oakland, CA.  He has a private practice working with teens and adults struggling with anxiety.  He is passionate about Mindfulness practices and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.  He also loves to play games of all kind and has created a therapeutic board game called The Mindful Bus that can be used with groups or in a one on one setting.  He believes games can provide a fun, safe, and interactive experience for therapeutic work to take place.

In this episode Dr. Edmunds covers the following:

-How he got the idea for the board game by working with teens and adults. 
-The process of getting the game created: prototypes, testing it, art work. 
-How Acceptance and Commitment Therapy inspired the idea for the game. 
-How to get started on your own product or game.


Jun 15, 2017

In this episode Dr. Kat covers the following:


  • Understanding what Maternal Mental Health is and where to find trained professionals to help.
  • Where to get training for professionals working with mothers in the mental health field.
  • Understanding postpartum depression, anxiety, and much more.
  • Reducing the shame of maternal mental health struggles through support, education, and sharing stories.
  • Her podcast, Mom & Mind is a wonderful free resource for parents, professionals, and anyone that could use information and knowledge in this area.


Dr. Kat’s Amazing Podcast


Mom and Mind Facebook Page


Jun 8, 2017

Expert Guest: Mercedes Samudio, LCSW Mercedes Samudio, LCSW is a parent coach, speaker, and author who helps parents and children communicate with each other, manage emotional trauma, navigate social media and technology together, and develop healthy parent-child relationships. Over the course of her career, she has worked with adoptive families, foster families, teen parents, parents navigating the child protective services system, and children living with mental illness. Mercedes started the #EndParentShaming movement as well as coined the term Shame-Proof Parenting – using both to bring awareness to ending parent shame. Mercedes is a leading parenting expert and has an amazing following on social media that allows her to reach the hearts of thousands of parents who feel heard and seen on their parenting journey. She has been featured on The Huffington Post, US News and Report, Woman’s Day, LA Parent Magazine, CBS LA, and Kids In The House. Mercedes seeks to empower parents to believe that they are already great guides for raising healthy and happy children. You can read more about her parenting expertise at



In this episode, Mercedes covers the following:

  • How family meetings can help strengthen relationships. 
  • Important things to consider when having family meetings. 
  • How to respond to sibling rivalry and the benefits. 
  • The importance of listening to children and allowing them to participate in family discussions and problem-solving.


Mercedes’ Book – Shame Proof Parenting 

Mercedes’ Website


May 9, 2017

My guest today is Dr. Jonathan Singer, Ph. D., LCSW, who is an expert in the area of suicide. He is an Associate Professor of Social Work at Loyola University in Chicago and the founder and host of The Social Work podcast. He co-authored the book, Suicide in Schools. This episode focuses on suicide pacts and the social media component and is the second piece of a two-part series.

  • The language we use around suicide is important. Instead of “suicide threat,” the less-threatening terminology is “suicide disclosure.” Dr. Singer shares how he helped in a suicide pact scenario years ago, before the onset of social media. His story would be very different in today’s world that’s overrun with social media platforms. 
  • Peers can help and even intervene in a crisis situation. In today’s world saturated with social media, teens will often be the first to hear of suicide pacts. Their awareness is crucial, so they know how to help and what to do. Dr. Singer explains how to be a friend to someone who is at risk for suicide and, specifically, how to address an online suicide pact.
  • What if someone feels that they are betraying a friend? Well, “It’s better to have a friend alive and mad, than dead.” There are intense affective conversation techniques that can help keep a friend around: “Your reason for living may not be in your life yet.”
  • Talking about it is so important! Dr. Singer explains that research has shown that asking kids about suicide does not increase risk, but can actually buffer the risk. Contrary to what some people think, bringing up the conversation will NOT make them suicidal.  What does increase the risk is watching a graphic show about a bleak world without hope, as in the recent Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why.


Find Jackie and the Play Therapy Community on Facebook: Look for Play Therapy Community or Jackie Flynn Play Therapy Community.


Find Jackie on Twitter @jackieflynnrpt


Suicide in Schools by Dr. Jonathan Singer


Social Work Podcast


Join the Play Therapy Community Mastermind group -


May 9, 2017

My guest today is Dr. Jonathan Singer, Ph. D., LCSW, who is an expert in the area of suicide. He is an Associate Professor of Social Work at Loyola University in Chicago and the founder and host of The Social Work podcast. He co-authored the book, Suicide in Schools. This episode focuses on suicide assessments and interventions and is the first of a two-part series.

  • Therapists can do much at various levels to assess risk. The most important action is to screen for suicide risk at each intake assessment, whether it’s suspected or not. Often, aggression and other behavioral disturbances can be evidence of suicide risk, so ASK the questions!
  • What can parents do? Dr. Singer says that parents of any child at risk should talk to the school counselor about a referral. “Don’t start looking for someone when the need arises.” Therapists should also connect with school counselors and let them know who you are and what you do.
  • Dr. Singer explains Attachment-Based Family Therapy, which is emotion-focused and addresses the fundamental issue of why kids don’t see their parents as a resource for help. “Why does the child feel like it’s a better choice to die rather than talk to and open up to their parents?” Repairing the “attachment rupture” makes it easier than to talk about everything. Kids need their parents to be a safe place!
  • Within ABFT, parents must understand the difference between condoning and validating by giving care and acceptance with words and actions. Use the phrase, “tell me more” to encourage kids to share. With this, they gain confidence to start problem-solving on their own---and this is what we want them to do!
  • Another important aspect of ABFT is the service coordination between therapist and counselor. The amazing work in your office is not going to be beneficial if the adults in the kid’s life are not on the same page!



Find Jackie and the Play Therapy Community on Facebook: Look for Play Therapy Community or Jackie Flynn Play Therapy Community.

Find Jackie on Twitter @jackieflynnrpt

Suicide in Schools by Dr. Jonathan Singer

Social Work Podcast

Join the Play Therapy Community Mastermind group -


Apr 27, 2017

Lucy Lauer, is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with 26 years’ experience as a Registered Dietitian. She specializes in helping people navigate the rough waters of disordered eating to achieve a healthier life and relationship with food. She has experience with Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, Nocturnal Eating Disorder, and the range of dysfunctional eating patterns that cause distress but may not have a diagnostic label.


In 35 years of practice, Lucy has treated disordered eating from both a nutritional and psychological perspective. She has presented workshops at the local, state and national level on many aspects of disordered eating for psychologists and counselors, physicians, dietitians, parents and teachers. She established and facilitated the Space Coast Eating Disorders Professional Consortium from 2009-2011, and supervises Florida Tech Psychology students in a special practicum focused on Eating Disorder treatment. 


She participates regularly in continuing education programs and has had over 60 hours of specialized training in ED treatment in the last 3 years alone. Specific topics have included ACT and other evidence-based interventions, medical complications, trauma impact, co-occurring disorders (substance abuse, self-injury, etc), assessment for appropriate level of care, body image, art and other expressive therapies, and using a team approach to treatment. She has also been invited to site visits at residential treatment centers in South Florida and Colorado. 




What are the various types of eating disorders? Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder


Since eating disorders have a direct impact on physical health as well, tell us a bit about the team approach to treatment when collaborating with Registered Nutritionists, Physicians, etc...

The gold standard of ED treatment involves a team of clinicians working together. The team consists of a mental health counselor or psychologist, Registered Dietitian (RD), primary care physician, and if needed, a psychiatrist. In an out-patient setting, it is usually the mental health clinician who coordinates care by communicating with other team members re. treatment goals, progress toward goals, and psychoeducation, as needed. The RD monitors weight, food intake and specific food-related issues and may also help set exercise goals. Medical parameters such as labs, EKGs and bone-density are ordered by the PCP and shared with other team members as markers for progress. When all team members are not under the same roof (which is usually the case), communication is done through phone calls, written assessments and updates and occasionally, face-to-face team meetings. If the client is a minor, the parents are also part of the team and are included in treatment planning, progress updates and psychoeducation so they can more effectively support their child’s recovery.


 Many people with an eating disorder have a fear of recovery.  Talk a bit about this and how a clinician can work with someone resistant about recovering from their eating disorder.

An eating disorder is experienced as a life-raft in the rough sea of uncertainty that is a normal part of life. Despite the fact that eating disorders are deadly and create enormous physical and psychological pain, they also serve important functions such as protection from intrusion, a sense of control when life feels chaotic, a way to make complex issues seem more manageable and many others. In order to help a person let go of this safety net, the clinician has to help them:  1) recognize the costs to other valued parts of their lives such as relationships, energy & concentration for other persuits; 2) Identify the functions of the ED and Develop other ways to address those. This often requires practicing acceptance of the inherent uncertainty of life, imperfection of themselves and others, and the messiness of living in a human body with all of its flaws and limitations. Sometimes, cognitive growth and recovery cannot take place until weight and nutritional balance is restored and this takes education, support, encouragement and a leap of faith on the part of the client.


 I know you facilitate a wonderful group for people with an eating disorder.  Tell us a bit about that group and how it's different from individual therapy? Our 8-week eating disorder therapy group employs a combination of mindfulness practice, self-compassion and some elements of ACT (acceptance & Commitment Therapy), which helps people identify personal values that the ED has robbed them of. There is a lot of discussion about perfectionism, fear of failure, body hatred, habitual responses to difficult emotions and practice slowing down and experimenting with alternative perspectives and behaviors. Much of the benefit from the group comes from the common experiences of the members who usually feel alien and outside of “normal” human connections. ED is a very isolating illness and it is progressive, so over the years, people feel more and more alone and ashamed of the disorder in addition to all the other things about themselves they already hate.


  Where can clinicians go for more information, trainings, certifications, etc... My favorite resources are programs presented by The Renfrew Center & the Eating Recover Center, both of which have residential treatment facilities in several US cities and do a lot of research, outreach and education. There are some very useful websites with loads of info, too. I’ve attached a list of resources we turn to on a regular basis. Our website and Facebook page also have regular posts about ED and other psychological and mental health issues. Our website is; our FB page is Beachside Counseling & Wellness on Facebook.




Recommended ED Self-help books


Cruze, Robyn & Andrus, Espra, LCSW (2013). Making Peace with Your Plate:  Eating disorder recovery. Central Recovery Press.

Kelly, Joe (2003). Dads and Daughters: How to inspire, understand, and support your daughter when she's growing up so fast. 

Lock, James, MD, PhD. & Le Grange, Daniel, PhD (2005). Help Your Teenager Beat an Eating Disorder. The Guilford Press.

Maine, Margo, & Kelly, Joe (2005). The Body Myth: Adult women and the pressure to be perfect. John Wiley and Sons, Inc. 

Roth, Geneen (2010). Women, Food and God. New York: Scribner.

Tribole, E. and Resch, E. (2003). Intuitive Eating. New York:  Saint Martins Press.

Johnston, Anita (1996). Eating in the Light of the Moon: How women can transform their relationships with food through myths, metaphors and storytelling. Carlsbad, CA: Gurze Books.

Schaefer, Jenni (2004). Life Without Ed:  How one woman declared independence from her eating disorder and how you can, too. New York:  McGraw-Hill.

Siegel, M., Brisman, J., and Weinshel, M. (1995). Surviving an Eating Disorder:  Strategies for Families and Friends. New York: Saint Martins Press.

Waterhouse, D. (1997).  Like Mother, Like Daughter:  How women are influenced by their mothers’ relationship with food, and how to break the pattern.  New York:  Hyperion.

Sandoz, Emily and DuFrene, Troy (2013). Living With Your Body & Other Things You Hate:  How to let go of your struggle with body image using acceptance & commitment therapy.  Oakland, CA:  New Harbinger Books.


Eating Disorder Resources

  • NEDA - National Eating Disorders Association. NEDA Helpline: 1-800-931-2237

     ANAD-National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Eating Disorders. ANAD Helpline: 630-577-1330

  • Something Fishy - Website On Eating Disorders. Referral sources.
  • Gürze Books. Eating Disorders Publication/Education & Referral Sources.  800-756-7533
  • EDReferral - Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center.
  • Alliance for Eating Disorder Awareness. Information for parents & caregivers about the warning signs, dangers, and consequences of eating disorders.
  • ED Hope: a resource and referral site for eating disorders and addictions.
  • Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA). Mission is to raise awareness, educate, and provide resources for its members and the general public.
  • F,E.A.S.T. - Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders. An organization of parents and caregivers. ww•
  • Anna Westin Foundation. Dedicated to the prevention and treatment of eating disorders & advocating for insurance coverage.
  • Beachside Counseling & Wellness, Indialantic, FL. Individual, couple and family therapy, Group Therapy, Nutrition Counseling, Information. 321-327-3793
  • Am I Hungry? Website promoting intuitive/mindful eating and body respect.

Websites & Blogs:

  Website launched by a patient in recovery from Bulimia:

  • Blog encouraging positive body image:

  Blog encouraging a non-diet approach to healthy eating:  Website/program to improve body image on college campuses:


Apr 14, 2017

Episode 53 – Sandtray Therapy and the Brain

Expert Guest: Amy Flaherty, LPE-I, RPT is the Founder and Director of the Southern Sandtray Institute located in Jonesboro, AR. She has a hybrid program to credential therapists as a Registered Integrative Sandtray Therapist (RIST).  In addition to the formal credentialing program, Amy also offers online sandtray training through The Sandtray Suite. To find out more and grab your free Sandtray technique, simply go to

In this episode, Amy Flaherty LPE-I, RPT covers the following:

  • What is Sandtray Therapy?
  • She describes the relation between neuroscience and Sandtray therapy.
  • She shares few examples of that she’s seen throughout her work.
  • She shares her most used miniatures?  And, where are some common area she finds miniatures for her collection


Apr 14, 2017

Episode 52 – Supporting Grieving Children and Families at the Dougy Center


In this episode:

Jana Cristofaro covers the following:


  • Describes the mission of The Dougy Center.
  • Tells how it was created (Dougy's story).
  • Describes who is eligible to receive services through your program and what is the process.
  • Describes what services look and feel like at the Dougy Center.
  • Provides tips that you have for therapists working with grieving children and their families.
  • Let’s us know about and/or donate to the Dougy Center.


For her Free Download:  Tips for Supporting Grieving Children click on the following:


Apr 14, 2017


Episode 51: Introduction to Play Therapy Community Podcast and Host, Jackie Flynn EdS, LMHC, RPT

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! This episode was previously known as Parenting in the Rain Podcast.

I created this community as a space for us (Child Therapists!) to connect with other and learn together.  If you’re anything like me, you like the idea of having tons of information at your fingertips so that you can provide the best therapy possible for your clients.

I have a Private Practice in Central Florida, with a fully stocked Play Therapy Room and Expressive Arts Therapy Studio. 

I love being a private practitioner and entrepreneur, taking risks, and daring to dream BIG! And, I LOVE Play Therapy!!!  Helping people through the healing Power of Play.

In the beginning, I remember surfing the web for hours and hours trying to get ideas.

Now, we don’t have to do it alone…we have this podcast and connection to each other where we can find out about all of the other wonderful play therapy related resources that are available to us out there! I LOVE the thought of being part of a community with like-minded individuals.

In my work at my private practice, I am passionate about helping children, adolescents, parents, couples, and families through Play Therapy, EMDR, Sandtray Therapy, Gottman Method Couples Counseling, Hypnotherapy, Education Consultation, Mindfulness, and Art Therapy. 

Probably much like you, I’ve spent years and years going to school, training, conferences, reading books, listening to podcasts, networking, reading blogs, and more to be the effective and passionate therapist that I am today.

We all have so much info to share… and the thought of creating a SYNERGYSTIC community of amazingly ambitious, child therapists like you makes me so happy, I can hardly stand it!!!

Personal and professional growth is ALWAYS at the forefront of my consciousness. And, I LOVE the world of BUSINESS and THERAPY combined. The online business world is packed with so many opportunities for growth – and I LOVE it!  I love helping people in a big way, and online that is possible!  You may have listened to my podcast, Parenting in the Rain or attended some of my Webinars.

I’d love to stay in touch with you through our newsletter.  If you’d like that too, just let me know where to send it by entering your info below.  You’ll get a video of my top 3 most used miniatures as my way of welcoming you to Play Therapy Community’s newsletter.

Apr 6, 2017

Episode 50, When Your Child Makes a Mistake

In This Episode:  

Mistakes are part of our humanness.  They are bound to happen from time to time.  In fact, they need to happen for us to grow.  For our kids, allowing them to make mistakes can make all of the difference.

As parents, it is helpful to allow our children’s mistakes to teach them about life.  

It can be difficult, though.  Especially, if you are in a rush and you need to get out of the door for school (okay this can be tough!), you may be tempted to just tie their shoes yourself, or dress them yourself, or make the bed yourself so it’s not so messy, or stick with the food that they are comfortable with ... the list can go on and on talking about how we’re busy and we don’t want to cause a scene and how everyone benefits, if we choose leads you down a path of least resistance.  I know some of these because I’ve been there.  Parenting can be exhausting and feel defeating sometimes.  I’m not saying you need to never help your kid again.  But rather, grasp those opportunities to learn and grow from messes and mistakes when possible.  

If you are in a rut of doing everything for your child, give own self-permission to be human.   Small tweaks over the course of time can make all the difference.  With a positive attitude. .. and lots of EMPATHY.  It may sound something like this, “It must’ve been really hard to have done your project and then not have it in class.  I know how hard you worked on it.”  

Beware of the temptation for sarcasm here.  If you connect with your child in an empathic way that leaves them feeling like “my mom or my dad gets it. I’m not gonna let this happen again.” 

“When the student is ready, the teacher will teach.”  – Zig Ziglar

When children are allowed to make mistakes and learn from their experience, the cognitions (aka “thoughts”) that are embedded in their self-perception are I am capable, I am competent, I can do difficult things, It's okay to try, as well as several other helpful ways to feel.  

The only people that make mistakes are the ones that don’t try.

Some opportunities to make mistakes are to learn how to tie shoes, make lunches, forget homework, lose a friend due to behavior, and a gazillion other ways.

One of the huge benefits of making mistakes, especially for children, is that they get a chance to hone and develop their problem-solving skills.  Think of it like muscles – how will they ever get strong if you don’t use them, or, if you let them lay dormant for a while.  

Letting our children make mistakes is actually a HUGE gift to them. 

This topic lends itself to the area of high expectations.  Les Brown said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.”  This is so true.  If we hold our kids to high expectations such as doing chores, reading a book every 2 weeks, applying for the scholarships, eating their vegetables, messing up their Science project, then we are sending the message of “I believe in you.”  And, then in turn, they have permission to believe in themselves.   

Remember, as we raise these small human beings that we refer to as our kids, we are given opportunities to help them be the best that they can be.  So rushing their homework or lunch to school that they forgot or allowing them to sit in front of the video games all weekend disconnected from family and life because they’ve had a difficult week, is not helping them at all.  It actually hinders them.

I’ve told the butterfly story before, but I’m going to mention it here too because it is so related.

I first heard this story in my Child Parent Relationship Therapy training.

So, as Mrs. Frizzle used to say in the Magic School Bus episodes... “Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy.”  This will allow your children to dare to dream and actually have the confidence and courage to follow their dreams.  



For Therapists – Join Play Therapy Community ™ with Jackie to learn more... Launching Soon!

Below Are Some Affiliate Links to Books/Products That I Love


Jackie’s Favorite Labryinths (Discounted Price)

Weighted Blankets by Mosaic




If you’d like to connect with me, I offer consultation and parent coaching support.  Just email me at or at my private practice at


Find a Play Therapist  Near You


Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting From Birth to Six Years

Child Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT) Treatment Manual: A 10-Session Filial Therapy Model for Training Parents


Mar 30, 2017

Episode 49:  The Art of Raising Honest Children with Integrity

In This Episode:  


Children learn way more by watching what we do, than by listening to what we say to do.

This is why it is so important to live our lives with integrity and good character.  It was super important before we had children, but it’s more important now than ever as it could impact generations to come.

There are quite a few definitions of integrity floating around, but I like this one the most.  

Integrity – doing the right thing even when no one is watching.  It’s personal honesty.

It’s a biggie to resist those temptations to tell little white lies or big hairy tall tales.  

Don’t tell the person at the ticket booth that your child is really 9 instead of 12 to get a reduced price ticket.  Don’t sneak into hotel pools when you’re not a guest.  Don’t go past the “Do Not Enter” signs and all of the other of gazillion things that can be tempting to do.  It may save you a few bucks at the movie theater to sneak in Candy from the outside, but in the long run, it costs way more than a few bucks.  You can compromise your kid’s integrity.  And, that is so valuable.

When someone is true to their values of honesty and integrity, it usually generalizes to other areas of their lives.  

So, take every opportunity to be honest, even when your child isn’t present, even when it cost you more money, even when it means that you will be inconvenienced, even when it’s hard...  Resisting the urge to gossip about someone else’s life can help your child develop trusting relationships that are solid as a rock too.  It helps your child to not only be trustworthy but to be trusting.  

It’s not only a beautiful gift to your child to raise them to value this important character trait, but is also a huge gift to yourself, your community, and ultimately the world that we all share.

Below Are Some Affiliate Links to Books/Products That I Love


Jackie’s Favorite Labryinths (Discounted Price)

Weighted Blankets by Mosaic



If you’d like to connect with me, I offer consultation and parent coaching support.  Just email me at or at my private practice at


Mar 23, 2017

Episode 48:  EMDR Therapy: Helping Children Move Past the Tough Stuff

In This Episode:  


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, also known as EMDR, is an effective, research and evidence-based therapy that helps free people from painful memories, anxiety, intrusive thoughts and other disturbances from exposure to trauma or especially disturbing situations.  And, it works with children too.  In my experience, it often takes less time to notice changes because often children have less tough memories due to their young age, as compared with older clients.

When exposed to traumatic events, our minds may not fully understand and process the magnitude of the situation due to the scenario at hand its overwhelming nature.  When I mention trauma, I want you to think of it as in “Big T trauma for the big stuff such as witness a crime, etc” and “Little t trauma such as being called a name by a peer, etc” This lack of processing of traumatic events thoroughly can show itself in a debilitating psychological/emotional state of distress. With kids, it can look like night terrors, bedwetting, behavior issues, anxiety, depression, and so on.  This state of distress can result in a feeling of being “emotionally stuck”.

EMDR Therapy can help with symptoms of distress from living with disorders such as Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder (ADHD), Restless Leg Syndrome, Phantom Leg Syndrome, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), Eating Disorders, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Anxiety, Depression, Tourettes Syndrome, Bed-Wetting, Emotional Regulation Issues, Behavior Concerns, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Eating Disorders, Disassociative Identity Disorder (DID), and much more.

EMDR therapy basically stimulates the mind into reprocessing the events, facilitates resolve from within the person experiencing it, and lessens the emotional impact of the memories. Even if the memories are from before the person can remember it with their thoughts.  We actually have memories from up to 3 months in utero that can sometimes stay stuck as emotional memories.  EMDR can free individuals from painful memories and empower them to live more fully in the present.  This is especially important with our kids, as staying stuck in trauma can impact their development in so many ways.  Sometimes, the effect of trauma is misdiagnosed as ADHD since it can leave people feeling distracted, unable to focus and fidgety from anxiety.

EMDR is a therapeutic “tool” that can be used in therapy to help our clients overcome barriers to normal functioning, and ultimately, to their happiness.  I love using it with kids!  Also, EMDR has been shown to alleviate anxiety and depression, which can leave children and their loved ones feeling emotionally anguish.  Anxiety and depression can look very different for children than it does adults.  Many of my clients have engaged in some type of self-harm, such as cutting, skin picking etc… and EMDR is one of my go-to tools to help them.  There are so many ways that it can be performed.  With younger kids, I love integrating it with Play Therapy.  As a part of the therapy, I have the client identify a negative thought about themselves, notice what they are feeling in their body and provide stimulation to either side of the body by having them move their eyes back and forth (usually with finger puppets or moving a car back and forth), or holding on to buzzers while often wearing earphones that alternate soft beeping in either ear that help desensitize what their feeling and reprocess it into something healthier.  For example, a negative thought maybe “I am a bad person” and the reprocessed thought maybe “I’m good enough just as I am.”  The healing can be profound.

Memories of negative events, whether big T or little t traumas, for children it can be a death, divorce, car accident, fight, etc. can become painfully fragmented into other events resulting in limited enjoyment of life activities.  Often it may manifest into anger, depression, chemical dependency, impulsive disorders, eating disorders, anxiety, phobias, relationship issues, and more.  Through the brain stimulation created from EMDR therapy, clients can reprocess traumatic events or negative thoughts, and eventually become desensitized to the painful memories that are often at the root of emotional troubles.

I love using the audible app.  Through Audible, I have read Francine Shapiro’s book “Getting Past Your Past” 5 times so far.  That book is wonderful at explaining EMDR in a way that helps people understand how it works and what it works on.  Francine Shapiro created EMDR Therapy back in the 80s and it is getting more and more well known each day.  In the show notes, I’ve linked sites where you can find an EMDR therapist in your area.  It’s good stuff, whether you use it for you or your child.

I remember that quote “Hurt People, Hurt People” that I first heard in an Addiction class.  When we can free our kids and ourselves from pain, we not only improve our own lives but improve the lives of others around us for years to come.

Below Are Some Affiliate Links to Books/Products That I Love


Jackie’s Favorite Labryinths (Discounted Price)

Weighted Blankets by Mosaic




If you’d like to connect with me, I offer consultation and parent coaching support.  Just email me at or at my private practice at



Mar 16, 2017

As a Play Therapist, I love using art with my clients!

 Art engages more of the brain in the healing process. 

But what about home? Is it important to have our materials and home? They can get messy look a little bit cluttered, be expensive sometimes, and take some time to delve into. 

Is it worth it?

The answer is yes! Art helps children in so many ways.Art projects can definitely help with confidence. Especially, if children are struggling in other areas. When children make something that they feel good about, that makes him feel proud of themselves, they perceive themselves as competent and capable of performing work that is really good. This self-perception often generalizes into other areas of their life. On surface level, one might think what’s sure they can paint a tree on a canvas, but that doesn’t mean that they can rock at math. And, to some extent that is correct. But, if gives them the confidence to try things that are very difficult and helps them to feel capable, they may have the courage to do math problems, they previously would’ve just shut down on…or whatever it is that the struggles with. Art projects can also help children with emotional self-regulation.  Artwork helps a right and the left hemisphere of the brain to synchronize which engages a calming effect. Many times, in session I will have my clients use the right in their left-hand at the same time which can enhance this effect. We do activities such as double mirror doodle, or art in the sand tray by moving both hands, design figures with the clay with both hands, and other things that just engage both hands, etc. I also love mandalas! mandalas or circle designs can either be symmetrical or any random design. I use these in individual, group and family sessions. There’s so many varieties think that you can do with Art.Art projects can also help with connection on many different levels. Engaging in creativity can help us connect with our inner self as well, as express what’s going on to others that can be so connecting. It can be so very healing. 

A picture is definitely worth I thousand words… and then some. I love using art therapy with blended families and adoptive families as it can truly that can strengthen the family system.  Art surpasses the limitation of words for sure!Sometimes, families will have an art cabinet or an art shelf where they random art supplies. For my families that I work with that do this, many of the kids comment how doing art work is one of their favorite things to do as a family. Sometimes in our family sessions where we’ll do a family coat of armor and have them identify their family strengths, or I’ll have them created habitat of a an animal in the future including all of the things that he needs to survive. They can be fun, telling of their situation, and also very healing and connecting, especially in high conflict situations.

 When parents ask me what they need to buy for their ourselves, I usually put it back on them. What do you think YOU might need for your shelf?   Because something that I recommend make totally be a turn off to them! For example I absolutely love, love, love, love, love, LOVE  glitter. But, a bottle of glitter around a 5-year-old can send some people into tizzy.  Gathering supplies for an art supply is an individual process for sure. You can find many low cost items at the local department store, but many things in nature are very useful as well. I love to bring in palm fronds for my clients to paint on and Angel and I have painted about a gazillion of them over years. We love using stick and leaves too. We live in Florida, so many times people around the neighborhood well trim the palm tree and put the palm fronds on the side of the road. Then, when we are walking our dog Max full pick up a really good friend.

 Remember too, art in this context is expressive, so isn’t confined to paint, paper, colored pencils etc. Art can be building a sand castle at the beach, it could be writing a plan together, it could be singing a song and expressing it with a dance, etc.

 As a play therapist, I love using the sand tray.  If you haven’t heard the episode 44 with Tammy van Hollander yet, it is so worth listening to. Putting little figurines, a.k.a. miniatures in the sand, can be very healing and extremely connecting. Also, I love to use rocks! All kinds of rocks I like to paint on rocks write on rocks use the rocks in the sand tray, incorporate rocks and are in mindfulness altogether… The possibilities are absolutely limitless

 In the show notes I have provided several links to art sites that can give you inspiration.


For Therapists – Join Play Therapy Community ™ with Jackie to learn more... Launching Soon!

Below Are Some Affiliate Links to Books/Products That I Love


Jackie’s Favorite Labryinths (Discounted Price)

Weighted Blankets by Mosaic




If you’d like to connect with me, I offer consultation and parent coaching support.  Just email me at or at my private practice at


Mar 9, 2017

“Is my kid addicted to video games?” 

I hear that question all the time from parents.  The word “addiction” is thrown round a lot these days… Video game addiction is not actually in the diagnostic manual per se, but some families have a real issue with their child being clued to a video game for many hours of the day. Sometimes, this is at the detriment of the social relationships play, family relationships, getting things.

 To steer away from the term addiction, which could be used totally appropriate here, I want to go to little bit deeper  with this topic. As a hypnotherapist that helps people transition from being a smoker to a nonsmoker, the term addiction can sometimes leave people feeling stuck and held captive by something larger than them.  I prefer to use the word habit, just because habits are much easier to change.   It’s all about perception and mindset, especially with our kids.

I just had an episode with Dr. Temple Grandin, perhaps the most famous person with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the world.  In that episode, she spoke to the connection between kids have an Autism Spectrum Disorder and their often strong attraction to play videogames. Many people children and adults included are trying to videogames for hours on end. Dr. Grandin recommends limiting their time on the games and involving them in some type of activity where they feel useful and helpful.  This approach helps prevent the dreaded scenario of having a 29 year old living at your house without skill, ambition, and desire to move into a more interactive kind of life that involves independence, responsibility and work ethic.

When is video gaming a problem?

 Moderation is the keyword here. And, prioritization. Just to be clear I am not anti-video games, I’m just pro parenting wisely when it comes to this area. As a parent of the kid that loves to play video games I totally understand the excitement and the joy and skill building in all of the strategic thinking that  goes with it. I’ve also experienced the other end where it is all-consuming, when situations left me wondering how to wean back without an unimaginable amount of upset or a disaster scenario.

This is where an ounce of prevention is like a pound of cure applies.  But, it’s never, ever too late to improve. 

Excessive, unmonitored, and/or violent video gaming can put a child at risk for increased irritability, avoidance of other healthy activities such as playing, reading, doing chores, spending time with family, obesity, etc.…  A very real concern sometimes involves safety such as connection and communication with strangers. It can get downright scary.But what can you do? What’s the solution? It can be a real dilemma, especially if you have a child that has been playing games for years and you fear an emotional explosion if you decide to pull the plug. Many times children that Play video games excessively also use the gaming as a in emotional self-regulation technique a.k.a. “A source of calming.” This could create a situation where the child is especially upset over losing the privilege of playing video game, win the video game is actually their way of calming down. This is why I recommend never going “cold turkey”. Never take away 100% of the videogame time if they are truly relying on it to help regulate their emotions without any other calming techniqes. Slowly pulling back to healthier lifestyle can be achieved much easier. Our children’s brains are not fully developed until about the ages of 21 to 24, so they are already working on limited ability to come down.Okay, following are the things that I think are important to keep in mind when making decisions around this matter. Each family is different… each family has their own set of values, rules, expectations, culture,… So the decisions that you may make for your child may look totally different than the decisions that your friend makes for her child– And that’s okay!

 Be involved, know what your kid is playing enjoying in periodically. When you are not involved it is like a secret world you have limited information about. No need to tell you about all of the dangers of the Internet, as I’m sure that you already know from my previous podcast episode on the subject. Sit down with your child to play the game every once in a while. It’s hard to find time to even take a shower before 11 PM much less to sit down to play a video game with your kid. But it is so very important to be involved. It’s a big deal.  The stakes are high.  Then you know what your child was doing and is exposed to, as well as it turns it into a connected activity.

 Also, pay attention to the rating levels… I recommend being really conservative with time here… Some of the games with the enhanced graphic these days are really activating… It does have an effect on your child’s perception of normalcy. Kids need to be kids while they are kids. Enough said here the violent games are not good …for anyone !

 Place your child’s gaming device and/or computer in a public area. When parents put gaming devices in their bedroom, they are really limiting their capacity to not only know what the child is playing to be more aware of how long they are playing for and with whom they are playing. This is a biggie!Also, prioritize, prioritize, prioritize… be sure that your child gets their chores done come other homework done, their playtime and their social time in before they play games.  Also, be sure that they get to be in time.  The crankiness meter can shoot up fast with sleep deprivation, regardless of age.  This helps to ensure that gaming is PART of their life, not their ENTIRE life. Many kids are at risk of turning into a hermit crab and staying in the room for hours upon and only to come out when they need food, a bathroom break, or prompted by their parents.  It can get bad sometimes.  

 Some warning signs that your child is playing too much is when they give emotionally explosive when it’s time to get off, when you wake up in middle the night to go to the bathroom and you see that they’re playing video games instead of sleeping school night or not, feelings of disconnection from family and friends, when they do not get enough physical exercise because they are always sitting in front of the computer or the gaming device,  when they don’t want to do anything except for play their video game, and several more things that I’m probably not thinking about basically becomes a problem when it is the problem. What are your thoughts? Jump in the Facebook group at Parenting in the Rain Community and let me know what strategies you have adopted to help your kids moderator video game usage

For Therapists – Join Play Therapy Community ™ with Jackie to learn more... Launching Soon!

Below Are Some Affiliate Links to Books/Products That I Love


Jackie’s Favorite Labryinths (Discounted Price)

Weighted Blankets by Mosaic




If you’d like to connect with me, I offer consultation and parent coaching support.  Just email me at or at my private practice at


Find a Play Therapist  Near You


Jan 12, 2017

I’m really excited about this episode with Dr. Temple Grandin!  

She’s so inspirational to me and many around the world. 

She has written so many books on Autism!  

In this episode, she talks about what it was like growing up for her with Autism, what helps and what doesn’t.  She also provides some great tips for parents, teachers, and therapists to help raise kids that have a sense of purpose and a strong work ethic that can go on to thrive in emotionally, socially, and occupationally.

I first heard of Dr. Grandin from a friend of mine, Stephanie Sanders.  She is the Speech Therapist and the author of the FILTER Approach that I had on the podcast way back in episode 28.  If you haven’t listened to that episode, please do.  It’s a good one!  I love Stephanie and her work.  Her book is fantastic.  It provides a step by step curriculum to help children with social communication skills.  I worked with her when I was a school counselor and had the opportunity to really see her work help some of the same kids I was working with... it’s amazing.  

Also, one more thing before we jump into my conversation with Dr. Grandin.  My colleague, Robert Cox, has a podcast and a book coming out soon that I am super, crazy excited about.  It’s called Listening to Autism.  He was also a guest on my podcast back in Episode 24 – “Teaching Kids with ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder to Calm Their Chaos through Mindfulness.”  On his podcast “Listening to Autism” he brings in research, lots of information from professionals.  He draws on his 24 years of experience of working with people with Autism as well as explores effective treatment approaches to really help.  One thing that I love about his work is that he looks at helping through the lens of trauma, to really help.  He also has a book in the final stages at the time of this recording “The Life Recovery Method”.  You can find Robert at

Okay, so here are the highlights of my conversation with Dr. Temple Grandin.

It’s important to get a child that is non-verbal into speech therapy as soon as possible.  

There’s 3 types of minds -  photo-visual thinking, pattern thinker, and the person that thinks in words.

It’s important to “stretch” kids to expose them to things that help them grow.

Build on children’s strengths - art, hands-on, etc...

Giving kids a chance to develop a strong work ethic and develop working skills is so important.

Dr. Grandin expresses gratitude to the people such as her teachers, her mother, and others that helped shape her work ethic and push her.

She is very concerned about video game “addictions”.  

It’s important to limit their video game addiction with ASD, by weaning them away from it and replacing it with hands-on work opportunities and activities that the child is interested in. 

Dr. Grandin describes “teachable” moments as being really helpful.  

She mentions that understanding sensory issues is really important.  

When she was growing up, adults would “correct” kids when they were doing something incorrectly such as “only the clerks are allowed behind the counter” when she went behind the counter.

It’s important to give kids a refuge away from teasing in groups with people that have a “Shared Interests”.

Exposure in high school is important – it’s a window of opportunity to get kids involved and exposed to other things than video games.

Dr. Grandin says that it is never too late to make changes.

She discusses her own experiences with medication to help her take the edge of anxiety.

She mentions a connection with Autism Spectrum Disorder and the images in video games.

Join our FB Group Parenting in the Rain Community and like our page!  

For Therapists – Join Play Therapy Community ™ with Jackie to learn more... Launching Soon!

Below Are Some Affiliate Links to Books/Products That I Love


Jackie’s Favorite Labryinths (Discounted Price)

Weighted Blankets by Mosaic


1 2 3 Next »