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The Power of Play

How to Use a Fast Road to Connection with Children

Dafna Lender • 10/12/2017 • No Comments

By Dafna Lender - If my experience is any indication, most beginning therapists are also offered little to no basic training in clinical work with kids. Why is this? The kinds of interventions that are most effective with children are based in play. Play is a remarkably powerful therapeutic tool, backed up by cutting-edge research, and teaching families how to apply it at home can bring about profound systemic changes.

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How Play Reduces Anxiety

Playtime Principles for Therapy with Kids and Their Parents

Lawrence Cohen • 8/21/2017 • No Comments

By Lawrence Cohen - Parents of young, anxious children are often unsure of how to prepare them for a potentially upsetting event. Using play, however, can heal past upsets and prepare them for upcoming transitions. Here's how a powerful session with a mother and daughter clarified the principles that would come to guide my approach.

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Bringing Out Your Inner Performer

How to Create a Therapy Experience Your Clients Will Remember

Robert Taibbi • 6/5/2017 • No Comments

By Robert Taibbi - In many ways, therapy resembles improv more than stand-up comedy, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t take a lesson from Louis C.K. and pay closer attention to not only what we say, but how we say it, ensuring that we, too, can maximize our impact, even if it’s on an audience of one.

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Inhabiting the Moment with Traumatized Teens

Three Strategies to Rewire Young Brains for Safety and Attachment

Martha Straus • 5/18/2017 • No Comments

By Martha Straus - What we therapists have to offer our young clients, more than anything, is our well-regulated, fully developed adult brain, with its mature capacity for awareness, perspective, appraisal, curiosity, and forgiveness on full display. According to the approach I use, Developmental-Relational Therapy, we’re both the mechanism of change and the intervention. Here are a few strategies that can rewire the teen brain for safety and intimacy.

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What Therapists Can Learn from Improv

Three Rules for Being More Energetic and Interactive in Sessions

Robert Taibbi • 5/16/2017 • 3 Comments

By Robert Taibbi - I started improv several years ago. It showed me how to be freer and more creative, providing a unique way of approaching relationships that's generous rather than closed, organic rather than scripted. While the theory and skills of therapy form the foundation of clinical practice, we have little foundation for the creativity that good therapy demands. Doing improv made me wonder whether applying these rules might make me more creative in my work and personal life.

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The Healing Power of Play

Helping Traumatized Kids Feel Safe and Happy Again

David Crenshaw • 4/11/2017 • No Comments

By David Crenshaw - When children are too anxious, afraid, or traumatized to play, they can't utilize this natural resource of childhood to relieve a painful emotional state. Instead, they must use their energy to compartmentalize the trauma, keeping it out of direct awareness. Child therapists can help children reclaim this vital feature of emotional self-regulation by teaching, modeling, and setting the stage for the child to play.

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VIDEO: Stephen Porges on How Trauma Affects Our Ability to Connect

The Science Behind Healthy Relationships

Stephen Porges • 12/28/2016 • 1 Comment

Stress responses aren't only vested within the sympathetic nervous system’s capacity to support fight-or-flight behaviors. There’s another defense system that’s mediated through a vagal circuit, says Stephen Porges, creator of the Polyvagal Theory. In the following video from his 2016 Networker Symposium keynote address, he explains how the vagus nerve is affected by trauma, and what this means for our ability to build meaningful relationships.

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Creating Adventure and Play in Therapy

How to Spark the Emotional Brain

Courtney Armstrong • 2/26/2016 • 1 Comment

By Courtney Armstrong - How many times have you surprised yourself by jumping at the scary part of a movie or shouting something hurtful at someone you love when you feel angry? You know the villain in the movie isn’t real and the insult to your loved one will only make things worse, but your emotional brain ignores this logic and leaps into action. The more we learn about the emotional brain, the clearer it becomes: to have real therapeutic impact, we need to create experiences that help clients learn to relate to themselves and the world in entirely new ways.

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Using Play to Connect Better with Kids in Therapy

How Modeling Play Can Help Children Heal Trauma, Alleviate Anxiety, and More

David Crenshaw • 1/27/2016 • 1 Comment

When children are too anxious, afraid, or traumatized to play, they can't utilize this natural resource of childhood to relieve a painful emotional state. Because play is both releasing and disarming, it may be too threatening for the child to give up control sufficiently to enter into it. Child therapists can help children reclaim this vital feature of emotional self-regulation by teaching, modeling, and setting the stage for the child to play. But as when you're teaching children with attachment problems to tolerate emotions, this must be done gradually.

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Creative Therapy with the Humor Antidote

Using Playfulness to Move Stuck Clients Into Recovery

Cloe Madanes • 7/2/2015 • No Comments

When clients are deeply stuck, they have lost all sense of perspective, all capacity to see any possible humor or lightness in their problem or in their lives. Emotionally and cognitively, they’re trapped in their own sad story. In these cases, the approach that I’ve found most useful is a kind of soft shock therapy in the form of a humorous paradoxical directive. Playful, humorous strategies can be like therapeutic life preservers, which keep both therapist and client afloat until both can get back to shore. Humor reboots the emotions and enables us to look at our situation with fresh eyes.

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