“APT defines play therapy as “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.”

More simply put, child play therapy is a way of being with the child that honors their unique developmental level and looks for ways of helping in the “language” of the child – play. Licensed mental health professionals therapeutically use play to help their clients, most often children ages three to 12 years, to better express themselves and resolve their problems.

Play therapy works best when a safe relationship is created between the therapist and client, one in which the latter may freely and naturally express both what pleases and bothers them.

Mental health agencies, schools, hospitals, and private practitioners have utilized play therapy as a primary intervention or as supportive therapy for:

  • Behavioral problems, such as anger management ,grief and loss, divorce and abandonment, and crisis and trauma.
  • Behavioral disorders, such as anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), autism or pervasive developmental, academic and social developmental, physical and learning disabilities, and conduct disorders.

Research suggests play therapy is an effective mental health approach, regardless of age, gender, or the nature of the problem, and works best when a parent, family member, or caretaker is actively involved in the treatment process. For more information on play therapy including research citations we invite you to view Play Therapy Makes a Difference!”

Association for Play Therapy

Maurissa Laudeman, LCSW, is trained in play therapy from the Temple University, Play therapy certification program and is supervised by a play therapy supervisor. She uses this type of work with children and teens in her private practice. She specifically uses the directive and child-centered play therapy approaches.

Boszormenyi-Nagy is best known for developing the Contextual approach to family therapy and individual psychotherapy. Contextual family therapy is a way of look at families through the family history.  Your therapist will work with you by using a tool called a “genogram” which is taking a look at who is in your current family and the generation or two above you, examining both sides of the family tree.  We will discover together how your family history may be impacting or informing your own parenting, your relationships, and ways that you feel or think about yourself.  We look at the different aspects of your family and the historical facts that have affected you and your family. In particular to many of your needs, loyalty to the present or absent family member will be explored. These examinations may enable you to work through symptoms and problems at a deeper level through the course of treatment.

The contextual family therapist will look at each side of the story starting with yours but including the perspective of the different family members, both now and in the past.  Through understanding and holding everyone’s story, your therapist will help you try and establish fairness and honesty in your relationships and to help unload burdens that may be keeping your or your family stuck in repeated, unhealthy patterns.  Trust and forgiveness are a fundamental part of working with families and couples.  Your therapist will try to help you work on truly becoming who you see yourself as, not necessarily as others may see you.

Sandtray therapy, originally developed Margaret Lowenfeld and Dora Kalff, may be used with children, families, adults and couples through the course of treatment.  Sandtray therapy allows people to work through problems held in the unconscious, or out of a person’s awareness, and from the part of memory which is held by body and out of a person’s ability to express through words.  This therapy involves using a dry or moist tray of sand to create a picture, scene or story from a wide selection of miniatures which represent many different things found in the world including people, animals, things, nature and other symbols.  When used with children and some adults, the therapist invites the child/adult to create any picture, scene or story they wish.  Other times a therapist may use the sandtray by inviting adults, families, or couples to create something in the sand based on a specific concern or problem.  Sandtray therapy promotes brain integration, a healing through the connection of body, feeling and thought, in the presence of a trained therapist.  This therapy allows people to express problems through metaphor and symbol, enabling a deeper way to revisit and rework current or past trauma, problems and issues.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. To date, EMDR therapy has helped millions of people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress.

For more information please click on the links to EMDRIA

Read description of EMDR for clients ⇒

Read EMDRIA’s Clinical Definition of EMDR ⇒

Information about EMDR Research ⇒


Additional information about EMDR therapy is available to the public in the “What is EMDR Therapy?” brochure and to mental health professionals in “EMDR: Information for Professionals” brochure. Copies may be purchased in the EMDR International Association Store.

About the Internal Family Systems Model of Psychotherapy
The Internal Family Systems (IFS) model of psychotherapy offers a clear, non-pathologizing, and empowering method of understanding human problems, as well as an innovative and enriching philosophy of practice that invites both therapist and client to enter into a transformational relationship in which healing can occur.

Click here to read Dr. Schwartz’s article “The Larger Self,” his inspiring first-hand account of how he developed and uses the IFS Model and the extraordinary, transformative effect it has on him and his clients.

Read more about the aspects of the Evolution of the IFS model.

Intimacy From The Inside Out, is an additional IFS approach to working with couples and relationships. In this model, individual and couples explore early relationship wounds to create more intimacy in the present. Intimacy from the Inside Out uses a systemic approach to heal, improve, and deepen relationships. The IFIO method combines individual work with interpersonal exploration through mindfulness and compassion. This approach creates a safe environment where couples can feel they can explore their repetitive cycles of conflict as they learn to communicate their vulnerabilities. For more information go to: https://ifs-institute.com/resources/articles/evolution-internal-family-systems-model-dr-richard-schwartz-ph-d

What to expect during therapy

Therapy will be different for each individual and based on the unique needs of the presenting problems or situations. Therapy may be short-term and solution-focused for acute needs. Individuals or families with more extensive needs will be invited to engage in more intensive sessions to better achieve their specific goals.