Sunday, April 21, 2013

Brain Exercise

I am so excited to share my experience from the First Annual Mid-Atlantic Play Therapy Training held in Alexandria, VA.  It was a three day conference highlighting the various arts including:  play therapy, music therapy, art therapy, dance and movement therapy, and so many more.  It was a wonderful opportunity to learn from experts in the field and network with people from around the world. 

Friday I had the wonderful opportunity to learn how to better integrate the arts with play.  One of the most exciting topics for me was learning more about theraplay.  Marlo Winstead talked about her experiences with theraplay and showed some examples of her work with families who have adopted children.  IT. WAS. BRILLIANT.

Theraplay is defined by the insititute as, "a child and family therapy for building and enhancing attachment, self-esteem, trust in others, and joyful engagement. It is based on the natural patterns of playful, healthy interaction between parent and child and is personal, physical, and fun".  There are 4-day training sessions around the world to teach clinicians how to practice theraplay.  There is one in Ireland later this year.....anyone?!?!

Saturday I attended the session on (surprise surprise) Expressive Therapies in Medicine.  I, once again, was reminded how cool it is to work with kids in the hospital.  Diane Rode, the child life director, spoke about the amazing opportunties at Mount Sinai for children to be creative and express themselves in a hospital setting.  They have a creative writing specialist!!! HOW COOL IS THAT?!  Check out more about their program at

Sunday morning, I attended a class entitled, "Imagery and More:  Self-Management Techniques for Physical Symptoms".  This class was taught by Karen Clark-Schock, PsyD, ATR-BC.  I learned more about mindfulness and taking control of physical symptoms through expression. 


We were asked to draw a picture of a symptom and then draw the opposite.  I think it is clear that by Sunday I was feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.  These two show my mind when I let anxiety take over and then when I choose to be calm and allow myself to be creative.  This activity would be great to do in the hospital to better understand a child's experience of his or her pain.  So often we use the pain scale, but it can be more effective to allow the child to create.  It would help to not only see the pain, but to also see if the child has hope for the pain to go away.

The afternoon session was entitled, "Grief Counseling using the Creative Arts".  This session pushed me to be more creative when working with grieving children.  We were given experiential learning opportunties in art, music, and sandtray, which is always a powerful learning opportunity for me. 

During the art experiential, we were asked to create an unfair death and how it impacts life.  This exercise gives insight to the view of death for the individual and the opportunity to talk about death in a non-threatening way.

Mark your calendar for the Second Annual Mid-Atlantic Play Therapy Training which will be held April 4-6, 2014!

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