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.
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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,




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Now displaying: July, 2016
Jul 30, 2016

In This Episode:  

Today we’re talking about emotional abuse.  Through my work, I help clients heal from this and move past the wounds that it can leave.  It can be a trauma.   Unfortunately, emotional abuse can take a huge toll on one’s self-confidence and self-esteem levels.   Being in an emotionally abusive relationship can have people questioning their life choices and own self-worth.

Today’s show is focused on helping parents recognize the signs of this problematic area of emotional abuse and choose better, healthier ways of interacting with each other (whether together or separated) and their children.  

Now, let’s talk about what emotional abuse actually is... Emotional abuse is different from physical abuse which is really marked by explosive outbursts and physical harm. Emotional abuse can be more deceptive and subtle.  While it doesn’t leave physical marks, it can sure leave emotional scars that go deep.  In some cases, many people aren’t even aware that it is happening.  You can’t see it like a bruise or a cut, but you can feel it.  And, others around can feel it too.  It can really rock people’s world.  For parents, it can lead to divorce, separation, physical violence and much more.  For kids... it seems like they have the most difficult situation of all.  They can’t just divorce or leave.  They are stuck.  They may choose to cut off the relationship at first opportunity though.  But, often families in these situations, just notice that their quality of life is poor at best and they often feel the painful stings of the cut downs, humiliations, control, and such.  

It really involves a regular pattern of verbal attack, threatening, humiliation (social or within the family, or both), control, bullying, threats, inducing fear, and perpetual criticism. Also, more subtle tactics like intimidation, control attempts, humiliation, shaming and manipulation. They may accuse their target of being “overly sensitive” to avert the reality of their abusive remarks.  In these cases, respect, empathy and compassion are either low or non-existent.  Many times the abuser will share personal information in a chastening way in an attempt to degrade and demean their target.  Often there’s teasing, put downs and a disregard for their targets accomplishments, hopes and dreams.

The purpose of emotional abuse is to control and overpower the other person.  The abuser may not even realize that they are doing it. It most often is the result of their own painful experience from childhood wounds and insecurities that come with that.  Emotionally healthy people treat others with respect, kindness, and compassion.  Often, in emotionally abusive situations, the abuser may have been abused themselves leaving them with a feeling of “this is normal” or “this is acceptable”.  They may even feel like a victim themselves, giving them the illusion of justification for their actions.  In fact, they may deny their emotionally abusive behavior when confronted and accuse their target of being the cause of their behavior.

 For parents, they often look back on how they were raised and use that as a blueprint on how to raise their own children -“this is how I was raised and I turned out fine.”  When in reality they didn’t turn out fine or they wouldn’t be acting the way they do.  They may feel angry, hurt, fearful and powerless themselves, so their instinct is to gain control over someone else that they can feel dominant over.   Therapy can help.  

It’s important to know that emotional abuse can occur in any relationship — between parent and child, in friendships, families, and marital relationships. 

This can happen slowly in relationships.  The long term effects can be huge.  In  kids, it can affect their life choices and put them more at risk for mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and in some cases even post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD.  It really taxes on the feelings of self worth, especially if they were verbally abused as a child.  Also, if a child witnesses emotional abuse of a parent, their perception of what a healthy relationship is and what it isn’t can be skewed from reality.    

Today, Laura Reagan is on the podcast to share a bit of her professional experience with helping people heal from emotional abuse.  Laura is a colluegue in the podcast world.  I love podcasts!  She’s the host of therapy chat podcast and she is also a licensed clinical social worker in Baltimore with a private psychotherapy practice.  I love learning from her.  She specializes in trauma.  In this episode, you’ll here her talk about her work.  She has a free e-book, Parenting after Trauma, for you as well.  



Subscribe to “Parenting in the Rain” podcast on iTunes, if you haven’t already.   Also, join us in our FB Community at


Jul 22, 2016

Episode 30, Knowing the Difference Between a Tantrum and a Meltdown and How to Respond to Both


In This Episode:  


A tantrum and a meltdown are different.  It’s important to differentiate between the two as it helps guide a helpful response by the parent.  Knowing that tantrums are a result of the child trying to get something and meltdowns are a reaction to sensory overstimulation.

A tantrum is based in an attempt for the person (usually a child, but not always!) to get something they want.  

It is behavioral based and some suggest that impulsivity can play a key role in their occurrence.

A child may have a tantrum if he wants a toy at the story, but is told no.  The tantrum is in an effort (may be conscious or unconscious) to get the toy.  

It doesn’t need to be based in a desire to attain tangible things though.  A child can also feel intense emotions that lead to a tantrum over issues such as attention, activities, and such.

It usually involves yelling, crying, kicking and screaming, which may look a lot like a meltdown to the untrained eye.

The child usually can control a tantrum, but may have limitations due to emotional flooding.

Tantrums are apt to stop when gets what he / she either gets what he / she wants or if he /she realizes that the tantrum is ineffective unlikely to produce the desired effect.

Characteristics of a Meltdown

A meltdown is a reaction to feeling overwhelmed, usually due to sensory overload (too much sensory information at once to process).

It looks a lot like a tantrum, with the exception of some body signals such as holding ears, not stopping for communication, etc.

The commotion of a supermarket may trigger a sensory meltdown.

The brain goes into overload and fight, flight or freeze response seems to set in.

For some, it can be a response to having a lot of things going on internally at one time, such as stress, worry, etc.

It’s important to mention that a tantrum lead to a meltdown due to the intensity.

Be sure to check out episode 23 on Sensory Processing Disorder to learn more.

A child will often stop a tantrum if she attains what she wants such as a candy bar, toy, activity, attention, etc. Or if she’s rewarded for using a more desirable behavior such as using her words to ask, being kind or whatever fits the situation.  It’s important to resist the urge to give the child what she wants as reinforcement, as it will cause more and more tantrums in the future.  It’s a great teachable opportunity to teach your child that outbursts aren’t the way to get things she wants in life.  These lessons will serve her well through the years.

Now a meltdown is different.  A meltdown isn’t likely to stop when a child gets what she wants. In fact, it may just be a matter of changing the sensory input that the child is receiving.  This happens a lot with kids with Sensory processing disorder.  Once the child leaves the overstimulating environment, she may start to feel calmer.

So how can you handle tantrums and meltdowns differently?

For tantrums, it’s important to recognize acknowledge what your child wants without giving in as reinforcement. Make it clear that you understand what she’s after. “I realize that you’d like a candy bar.  Now isn’t a time that we eat candy though.  You can have an apple or another snack when we get in the car though.” Then help her see there’s a more appropriate behavior that will work. “When you choose to speak calmly and respectfully, you may share with me what you choose.”

To de-escalate a meltdown, help your child find a safe, quiet place to calm. “We’re going to go out to the car now.  It’s quiet there and I can turn on the air conditioning so that we are both cool and comfortable.” Resist the urge to lecture or talk too much though, as that can be over stimulating in and of itself though.

It’s super helpful to identify and name the emotion that your child is feeling.  It builds their emotional literacy and also helps them to have language to express something that is happening in the body, as well as helping their brain to self-regulate the intensity of the emotion.

It’s important to know the difference between tantrums and meltdowns, as your response is a key factor in getting through it and attaining calm again.

Happy parenting!!  

Subscribe to “Parenting in the Rain” podcast on iTunes, if you haven’t already.   Also, join us in our FB Community at

Jul 14, 2016

In This Episode:  

I’m reflecting on all the times I have made a mistake as a parent. Whew! This realization cans me quite humbling.

Now, to be completely honest, I could not possibly remember each time that I have made a parenting mistake. Or any mistake for that matter. As I have probably made about a gazillion mistakes in my lifetime, and certainly many of them during last 13-ish years as a parent.  But, I’m totally okay with that since I have learned from them.

Lessons learned by experience are LONG LASTING and VALUABLE.

One biggie that I’ve learned is, it is okay to not be the “PERFECT” parent. Really, is there such a thing anyway?

Mention of this reminds me of Brene Brown’s (I LOVE her work!) beautiful book, “The Gift of Imperfection”.  Her message is a life changer for so many, myself included. All of her books and talks are incredible.

Being the “best” parent that YOU can be is what truly matters.

At the time of this writing, I have not yet met a “perfect” parent. I don’t expect that I ever will either. It’s just not a realistic expectation. What is a realistic expectation however, is that we do what works best for us, while honoring the uniqueness and individuality in our own selves and our own family.

Being the absolute “best” parent that you can be is SO MUCH more rewarding, attainable and worthwhile.

I have met many AMAZING parents over the years though.

With these parents, I’ve noticed that they all incorporate…

  • LOVE

… into their own parenting styles in their own, unique ways.

Also, these parents all seem to give themselves, and the ones that they love, permission to make mistakes.

Brilliant, right?

It’s important to mention that the topic of parenting sometimes lends itself to strong opinions.

Getting past the point of letting other people’s opinions drive our decisions can feel so EMPOWERING.  It allows us to relax and actually be able to enjoy our kiddos and the experiences that life has to offer.  This effort is totally worth it. Freeing our hearts and opening our minds enables us to access a beautiful space that holds the SELF-LOVEACCEPTANCE, and HAPPINESS that we crave.

As a therapist specializing in Child Parent Relationship Therapy, I teach parents to “Focus on the Donut, Not the Hole”.

I interpret this to mean, focus your energy on the good stuff, not on what’s going wrong. Sure, we need to address things that go wrong, but it’s not helpful to fall into the perpetual pit of doom that focusing on weaknesses can bring.  Things get so much tougher when we dwell on the negative.  I have seen such healing, growth and improvements in people’s life with this one realization. This is not my idea however, as it is part of the therapeutic protocol outlined in CPRT Package: Child Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT) Treatment Manual: A 10-Session Filial Therapy Model for Training Parents, by Bratton S., Landreth, G, Kellam, T., and Blackard, S.

Their “FOCUS ON THE DONUT, NOT THE HOLE” concept is only part of this incredibly effective type of relationship based therapy. The other tenents of their book and manual are brilliant as well!

If you are searching for:

  • deeper relationships with your children
  • more effective ways to nurture good character
  • simple methods to foster self esteem and courage to take chances

…this type of therapy is recommended. Good stuff!

In regard to tough situations that life can offer, I invite you to “Focus on the Donut” on a personal level as well.

Noticing what you are doing “right” can make tough situations much easier by fostering feelings of adequacyselfworth, and capability.

Give yourself permission to be human and make mistakes, with the INTENTION of learning from them and ultimately doing better the next time is good stuff.

The word “intention” means to do something on purpose. Parenting “on purpose” can leave us feeling empowered and in control.

Maya Angelou’s brilliant words “when we know better, we do better” apply here, for sure. So, education is key to making informed decisions on purpose.

I love, Love, LOVE learning from experts in the field on topics such as neuroscience, child development, behavioral strategies and interventions, etc.… Through this I attain much greater amounts of insight and accurate information.

I remember when my first child was born, I was quickly realized that other, often well-meaning parents can express strong opinions based on the big issues. Whoa… This caught me off guard a bit. It took me a while to realize that I had a choice in those types of situations.  When I finally realized that, I felt like I could breathe again and enjoy being a parent.

The fact of the matter is, we can choose to perceive these types of comments as judgmental, mini aggressions. (This choice can be emotionally draining for sure!)

Or, we can CHOOSE to take away the information that I can use and leave the rest.

It is our CHOICE. It is nice to have a choice, right?

I think we have all experienced it at one time or another–The dreaded “No, you should _____________ instead. You’re doing it wrong.”


Sometimes, words from others can sometimes sound judgmental and sting, leaving us feeling paralyzed, inadequate, and unable to function at our personal best.

Issues such as:

  • To breast-feed or not…
  • To stay at home with my child more to be a parent working outside of the home…
  • To use a pacifier or not..
  • To soothe my child to sleep or not…
  • Date nights or not…
  • Medicate or not..
  • Private, homeschool, or public school…
  • etc…

… can keep parents up at night, wondering “Am I doing the right thing?”.


For the most part, people mean well… giving their words of advice that they believe to be helpful can be an act of kindness for sure.   Many times their advice is just what we need. But, sometimes it isn’t.

Sometimes, advice from others can leave us feeling torn and confused. Especially, when it isn’t aligned with OUR VALUES, STYLE, and DESIRES for our families.

The key to gaining helpful parent knowledge in these situations is to take what information applies and leave the rest.

I’m a huge fan of gathering as much information as possible. Making informed decisions is a biggie for me. I continuously gather information from books, blogs, podcast, conferences, and more… As these sources can be just what I need.

I take what I need and leave the rest.

To be clear, I certainly have my ideas on what works and what doesn’t for MY family. Who doesn’t, right? I am super aware though that they are just that… MY ideas.

In my work as a Registered Play Therapist, Educator, and a Parent Coach, I have learned the immense value of truly listening to parents for the purpose of accurately identifying what is working and what is not, as well as accurately identifying what is at the root of the concerns. This approach enables me to provide information that they can wrap around THEIR VALUES, and build on from then on.

Good stuff!

Information is SO valuable. In my personal and professional life, I steer clear of the “You shoulds…” every chance that I get.

Recently, I heard the saying “Don’t Should’ve on Yourself!”. It made me chuckle and raise my eyebrow, as it is such a valuable reminder of how “should’s” can certainly be the thief of our parenting joy.

It is important to know, that a “one size fits all” parenting style simply does not exist.

It’s like trying to FIT INTO SOMEONE ELSE’S SKINNY JEANS!  Sometimes they just don’t fit… With enough effort, we may be able to get them on and button them up, but sometimes they just don’t fit.  And,  they can leave us feeling uncomfortable, leaving us unable to relax and enjoy life…enough said!

What works for me, may not work for you… and, what works for you may not work for your best friend’s cousin…

“Intentionality” is the vital. Plain and simple.

Being clear on YOUR:

  • Values
  • Limitations
  • Expectations

…is absolutely essential.

A lack of clarity in these areas can leave you feeling exhausted…like you are running around in circles, expending your precious energy on what OTHERS think you should do, and sometimes swimming in a tumultuous river of PARENT GUILT.

Subscribe to “Parenting in the Rain” podcast on iTunes, if you haven’t already.   Also, join us in our FB Community at


We are on this journey together.

In the meantime, breathe easy, give yourself permission to be human – to be imperfect, and love with your whole heart. And remember, squeezing into someone else’s skinny jeans isn’t always the best idea.  =)

Happy Parenting!


Jul 8, 2016


In This Episode:  

We’ll hear Stephanie Sanders explain the realm of Speech and Language services for children in the school setting.  She mentions that the group setting is most common with her work.

She also tells us that it differs from the home setting, where she would work with the child one on one.  

She created a curriculum that she developed over the course of 4 years while working with students with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

She was initially inspired by her younger brother and her students.

She tells us about some of the common struggles that kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders experience and how she addresses it with the students that she works with.

She emphasizes the importance of communication with parents while working with children.

She discusses the struggles that some of the kids that have with non-literal language, picking up social cues and such.

She usually works with kids in groups of 5 or less.  The group setting allows for social issues to come up.

Stephanie wrote a book to present a curriculum to help children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  The FILTER Approach:  Social Communication Skills for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

The acronym “FILTER” breaks down as the following: F - Facial clues, I – Inappropriate, L – Listen, T – Target, E - End and Start Conversations, and R - Repair

She has witnessed students putting the concepts into action, both in the therapy room and in real time.

She has a PRE & POST mini assessment (a 10 question questionnaire) to assess their level of retention.

In her work, she has seen children retain the information and put it into action.

The FILTER Approach is a user friendly curriculum that professionals and kids can really connect with and benefit from.

When the children get positive feedback it can support self-esteem growth and foster positive feelings of self-worth.

She emphasize the importance of identifying the needs and implementing the curriculum at an early age in a developmentally appropriate manner.

The FILTER Approach incorporates some social scenes to give the kids insight from an experience level.

Stephanie creates an emotionally safe and trusting environment for the children to open up about their social awkwardness and struggles.  

Stephanie is very clear and transparent with the children to let them know that she communicates with parents.


Collaboration with parents, teachers, therapists, school counselors and other people helping the child is ideal.

She talks about the metaphor of the filter and how she describes how it applies to this concept.

She also teaches kids how their brain works to give them a deeper understanding of how the concept applies in terms of brain function.

She tells students how using a filter can help them with relationships, with a job, and many other areas of their lives.

Stephanie stresses the importance to listening to the kids without jumping right in to teach them or fix the problem.  This can be really helpful for kids, especially kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

The information presented in this curriculum helps children not only at this time in their lives, but it helps lifelong.

Stephanie provides some AMAZING tips for parents and for professionals helping kids out.  

It’s so important to consider the perspective of the child.  You can read more about this in her blog post for ASHA (A link to her blog post is not available at this time. Expected date of availability is anticipated for the early August timeframe.)

Stephanie gets silly sometimes with parents and kids in her work.  She has an awesome Donald Duck and Scooby Doo voice.

Stephanie really prayed throughout the 4 years of creating the curriculum for my students to connect with the concepts that she presented and just before submitting The FILTER Approach to Plural Publishing that it might benefit any students/clients exposed to the curriculum.

She continues to pray for the previously mentioned individuals and for any therapists, counselors, teachers, or parents choosing to implement this curriculum with their students/clients.

You can read the full show notes at