December 20, 2012

Ways to Help in Newtown

Many people have asked for ways to help in Newtown. There are several play therapists, in conjunction with counselors in the Newtown area, who are assembling toy kits and sandtray kits for classrooms.

The kits will have prompts for classroom usage, and teachers will have consultation and support around these activities as well.

If you'd like to be a part of this team effort to help the children of Newtown you can make a monetary donation to help purchase the needed supplies. Simply click on the link below to make a payment via PayPal.

December 9, 2012

New Uses for Old Binders

Have some old three ring binders laying around? Turn them into doll houses and puppet stages.

November 26, 2012

Feelings Toss

Grab some ping pong balls, a marker and cups and create a Feelings Toss game.

2013 Play Therapy Training Schedule

If you're looking for play therapy training we have several workshops scheduled for 2013 on a variety of topics. Here are two upcoming trainings you may be interested in attending.

Anxiety is a common problem for many children. Whether the anxiety arises from genetic factors or environmental conditions children need to find a way to face the anxiety and master it.  Play Therapy with Anxious Children will examine the symptoms of anxiety and how it impacts children. We will explore play therapy interventions as a way of teaching children how to manage anxiety producing situations. The parent's role in the play therapy process will also be discussed. 

Play Therapy with Families will focus on integrating play into family therapy. The unique challenges and opportunities of working with families will be discussed. Activities and games to use in family play therapy will be presented. 

There are several more training options listed between January and June 2013. Go to STL Play Therapy for more information and to register.

November 20, 2012

What Do Feelings Sound Like?

As a play therapist I use toys and other materials to help children find ways of expressing emotions and the intensity of those emotions. You can use maracas and bells as tools to encourage children to share what their feelings sound like.

We're One of the Top 100 Counseling Resources on the Web

We are proud to announce that our blog has been selected as one of the Top 100 Counseling Resources on the Web by Masters in Counseling Information Guide. We're honored to be listed in the category of School and Children's Counseling.

November 11, 2012

Ornaments to Commemorate a Loved One

Grieving children can benefit from creating a visual that helps them remember and commemorate the person they lost. This idea for an ornament is easy to make and can be tailored to meet the specific beliefs of the child.

November 5, 2012

Portable Play Therapy

Being a portable play therapist can be challenging. Selecting the right toys and materials and finding a container that's easy to tote can seem overwhelming. This is the kit I've assembled and take into an elementary school to facilitate child-centered play therapy groups.

   We have more ideas on how to be a portable play therapist on Pinterest.

October 17, 2012

I'm a New Graduate!

Not one to brag but I want to share with my followers my most recent accomplishment.

The inscription on the award states: 

"The Association for Play Therapy hereby congratulates and expresses its sincere appreciation to Pamela Dyson, LPC, RPT for completing a program intended to elevate play therapy and association leadership and thereby more effectively advance the field of play therapy and add value to stakeholders." 

I was presented this award at the 2012 Association for Play Therapy Conference held in Cleveland, OH last week. I'm proud to be among a group of therapists dedicated to advocating and promoting play therapy. If you're a member of APT I strongly encourage you to consider enrolling in the leadership academy. You learn about the business side of the organization and it helps you recognize and build your leadership skills.

October 1, 2012

Memory Box

When children and families are grieving a loss it can be challenging for them to feel a sense of connection to the person that is no longer a part of their world. Creating a memory box that contains items connected to that person can help the child and family focus on positive memories and make the grieving process a bit more manageable.

September 16, 2012

Expressions Stampers Games

When I find a wonderful product I like to tell other people about it. One of my current favorites? Expressions Handle Stampers from Melissa and Doug. The number of feelings games you can create with these stampers is endless. Here are a few I'm come up with. How do you use these expressions stampers?

September 15, 2012

We're the Website of the Month!

I was so excited when I received an email from Marissa Rex, author of the website Elementary School Counseling requesting an interview in order to feature this blog as the Website of the Month.

Promoting play therapy is something I am so very passionate about and I knew this was an opportunity I didn't want to pass up. We spoke at length over the phone and the archived audio file of the interview can be accessed HERE.

While you're on Melissa's site take some time to peruse the content. She's doing an amazing job putting together a site that offers school counselors the resources and support they need to run effective counseling programs. She also has a YouTube Channel a Facebook Page and she's pinning resources on Pinterest.

Thanks again Marissa. It's an honor to be featured.

September 9, 2012

Affordable Sandtray Miniatures

Acquiring sandtray miniatures can sometimes be a challenging and expensive task. Using a little creativity you can find inexpensive items that will make great additions to your miniature collection.

September 3, 2012

Carboard Dollhouse

Does the cost of a doll house not fit into your play therapy budget? Perhaps you're a portable play therapist and it's just not practical to tote a dollhouse around. You can make a doll house from cardboard. It's easy to make and it won't break your budget.

August 29, 2012

Peg Dolls and Block Dolls

I spend a lot of time on Pinterest pinning and re-pinning play therapy related photos to my boards. I see a lot of pins for peg dolls. I am really drawn to them as I feel they would be a good addition to a doll house or to sandtray miniatures as ready-made doll families can often be expensive to purchase.

I'm a fairly creative person but drawing and painting are not two of my talents. So even though I had purchased some plain wooden peg dolls several months ago I had not taken the time to try and turn them into a doll family until this week.

Here are the results of my effort. The tallest of these is just a little over two inches and the smallest is one and half inches tall. I didn't have any acrylic paint so I used Sharpie's. 

I'm anxious to create more doll families and add them to my portable play therapy kit. I'll be providing individual and group play therapy at an elementary school one day a week during the 2012-2013 school year so I am anticipating needing several doll families. Since they're small they'll be easy to tote.

After I finished making this peg doll family I decided to try making another people using some extra wooden blocks I had in my play therapy storage closet. These are a little over two inches tall. You could even draw on both sides of the block. Perhaps a happy person on one side and the person on the other side could express another feeling.

I think I'll be making more of these little doll people. I may even have my child clients create some for me as well.

August 27, 2012

Muffin Tin Feelings Toss

Stop by the dollar store and pick up a muffin tin. Add feelings faces with a permanent marker. Child tosses a weighted ball or coin into one of the cups, identifies the feelings and shares a time they may have experienced it.

August 21, 2012

Using the Game Trouble as a Therapeutic Tool

I like to take traditional games and add a therapeutic twist to them. This video features my adaptation of this game as originally developed by Liana Lowenstein.

August 15, 2012

Dress up Clothes and Accessories are Important in the Play Room

Children love dressing up in costumes and accessories. Whether it's items that represent real life or items that are more fantasy in nature, costumes and accessories are another way for children to express their feelings and desires in the play therapy room.

August 8, 2012

Multi-Cultural Considerations in Play Therapy

As our society becomes more diverse it’s important for play therapists to provide toys and play materials that are culturally relevant to the populations we work with.

July 16, 2012

Using Ker-Plunk! as a Therapeutic Intervention

When you take a traditional game, like Kerplunk!, and add a therapeutic twist, you can create a play therapy intervention specific to a presenting problem.

July 8, 2012

Real Life Toy: Doctor Kit

In a play therapy setting it's important to provide toys that represent real life so that children can play out their real life experiences and explore the associated feelings.

June 26, 2012

Stress Relievers Made From Pool Noodles

Kids who have a difficult time sitting still can benefit from a fidget toy. Can't find any that fit your budget? Head to your nearest dollar store and pick up a pool noodle. Slice it up and you've got a basket full of affordable stress relievers.

June 17, 2012

Sand Circle

Choose an object to represent yourself and place it in the center of the circle. Select additional objects to represent people that are important to you. Can be used as an observational and assessment tool.

May 29, 2012

Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations don't have to be limited to the therapy room. Here's an inexpensive way to add them to your waiting room. Engages both children and adults.

May 21, 2012

Use Beach Balls as an Engagement Tool

Use a permanent marker to add feeling faces or questions on a beach ball. Makes a great engagement or assessment tool.

May 14, 2012

Using Dry Erase Boards in Play Therapy

Dry erase boards are a versatile play therapy tool. Whether it's a standard sized board or a melamine plate consider adding some to your play therapy tool box.

May 7, 2012

Use Bubbles and Pinwheels to Manage Anxiety

Children who feel anxious can benefit from learn deep breathing skills. Bubbles and pinwheels are great tools to teach children how to self-calm and regulate their breathing.

April 30, 2012

Let's Go On a Magic Carpet Ride!

When a child faces challenges that cannot be changed we can encourage them to go on a magic carpet ride where they can soar above their challenges and feel empowered.

April 29, 2012

We've Added MORE Trainings to our Summer Schedule

If you're looking for play therapy training this summer we have several workshops scheduled on a variety of topics.

If you're new to play therapy we suggest you register for our introductory trainings. Introduction to Play Therapy will cover the basic history of play therapy, directive and non-directive play therapy, the therapeutic relationship and limit setting. Participants will learn how to set up a play therapy room and select appropriate toys. Included are experiential activities to enhance personal growth and development.

Our Introduction to Sandtray Play Therapy  will provide a basic understanding of sandtray history and theory as a play therapy technique. We will explore how healing manifests itself in a sand tray. Method and case presentations of play therapy sandtray sessions will be followed by an opportunity for participants to experience their own sandtray.

If you register for both of these introductory trainings there's a discounted registration fee. For more information about these trainings and others go to our web site St. Louis Center for Play Therapy Training.

April 16, 2012

Tear Soup a recipe for healing after loss

The book Tear Soup is a recipe for healing after loss. In this video I share an activity that I use with grieving children that was inspired by this wonderful book. Learn more about Tear Soup at Grief Watch

April 9, 2012

Fortune Telling Problem Solver

Remember making fortune tellers as a child? Adapt a fortune teller and use it as an assessment or problem solving tool.

April 1, 2012

The Power of a Clip Board

This play therapy tip explains how to use a clip board to help a child overcome a fear or a challenge and gain a feeling of being in control of a situation.

March 27, 2012

Looking for sand for your sandtray?

There are many sources, most of them online, that sell sand that can be used in sandtrays. The prices vary as much as the color and texture of the sand. I replace my sand frequently so I need affordable sand that doesn't stretch my budget.

I found exactly what I need at Toys R Us. They carry a play sand from Fairmount Minerals that they profess to be the cleanest, highest quality play sand offered. Fairmount likes to refer to it as 100% clean, pure and fun! The smooth grains are thoroughly washed and dried to remove all contaminants and dirt. I've never had any issues with dust since I've been using this sand. Kids enjoy running their fingers and hands through the sand as much as they enjoy using miniatures to tell a story in the sand.

It's sold in a fifty pound bag and it's priced at only $6.49! Perfect sand at a perfect price. I just purchased a new bag last week. Now if I only had someone who could carry it from my car to the office.

How about you? Where do you get your sand and how much do you pay?

March 20, 2012

I'm featured in the Private Practice Toolbox blog of Julie Hanks, MSW, LCSW, BCD. Read about my adventures in private practice HERE.

March 13, 2012

Take a Tour of my Play Therapy Room

Take a peek inside the play therapy room of Registered Play Therapist Pam Dyson. Learn what toys and materials a child needs to explore their world, express their feelings and find creative solutions to problems.

March 12, 2012

Take What You Need

I find there is great value in giving a child a transitional item that bridges the work we do in the play therapy room to home, school and other settings. I've recently begun making some transitional items that are gaining positive feedback from both children and their caregivers. They're also affordable and easy to make.

I draw these free-handed, copy onto colored card stock and hang them on the bulletin board in my office waiting room. A parent and child often engage in a brief discussing over which tabs they will tear off and take with them when they leave my office. I've encouraged parents to make these and use them at home. And since I believe strongly in doing the things I encourage my clients to do I too am tearing off these tabs and putting them in my car, on my mirror, etc. as a reminder of what I need to be an emotionally healthy person.

DISCLAIMER:  I need to mention that these are not my original ideas. If I knew the originator I would give them credit and thanks for a simple concept that has a powerful I have stumbled upon variations of these on the internet and found this simple idea to have a powerful impact. 

Are you using this idea or plan to use it? I'd welcome your feedback on how you've adapted it to your setting and how it's been received.

March 8, 2012

Let's go on a Magic Carpet ride

Children in my play room can use their imagination to create places to visit that are unreachable in the real world. A visit to another place can be a catalyst for change.

A simple way to help a child travel to another world is with a magic carpet. I made this one using an inexpensive door mat I purchased at a discount store. I traced around a star-shaped cookie cutter with gold glitter paint and I free-handed some simple lines. No ride is complete without a genie lamp. Children love pretending to fly on this magic carpet. Problems seem smaller and more manageable when you're soaring above them.

March 6, 2012

Parenting Metaphors

Metaphors are in an integral part of play therapy and it's not limited to working with children. When parents consult with me regarding problematic behaviors it's vital for me to understand exactly what the parent is feeling. I will ask them to select an object that symbolizes their parenting experiences. Their explanation of why they chose that item helps me empathize with them and create an alliance with them.

February 28, 2012

Create a Crest

Create images on a crest that represent positive qualities. Can be used individually or in a group or family setting.

February 21, 2012

Feelings Ring Toss

Use recyclable materials to create a Feelings Ring Toss game. It's a technique that helps young children identify and express their emotions.

February 19, 2012

February 14, 2012

Looking for Play Therapy Training?

Most of the play therapy training opportunities that we offer through the St. Louis Center for Play Therapy Training are held in the St. Louis area. However, in 2012 we're hitting the highway to bring play therapy training to locations outside of St. Louis.

We currently have trainings scheduled for:

May 5, 2012 in Nashville, TN

May 12, 2012 in Mt. Vernon, IL

More locations will be added soon to our schedule.

We can come to you!  Contact us with your training needs and we can bring a play therapy training to your agency, organization or your state play therapy branch.  Email us and request a list of available topics. We can even design a training specific to your needs.

February 13, 2012

The Worry Web Technique

The Worry Web is an assessment technique to gauge the intensity of a child's anxiety and to help them come up with coping skills.

January 31, 2012

January 29, 2012

Two-Sided Puppet

Kids enjoy making puppets from paper bags. This two-sided puppet was the inspiration of an 8 year old client I was working with who had a fear of monsters.

January 24, 2012

Animal Projection Technique

Put together a collection of miniature animals and you can facilitate this animal projection technique.

January 22, 2012

January 16, 2012

Make Your Own Stress Balls

Balloons, play dough and a permanent marker are the only supplies you need to create these stress balls.

January 9, 2012

Therapeutic File Folder Games

Use file folders and stickers to create one of a kind, easy to store, therapeutic board games.

January 8, 2012

Have You Seen Our Play Therapy Schedule for 2012?

Play Therapy with Children in Foster Care
Presented by Toby Mills, LMSW
January 21, 2012

Toby Mills 
Toby Mills, LMSW

Working with children and families within the foster care system comes with unique challenges.  It requires knowledge of the court systems, complex family dynamics and an understanding of how to  utilize play therapy interventions for the wellbeing of children. In this training we will learn specific mental health diagnoses commonly found with children in the foster care and ways that play therapy can help alleviate the symptoms of these diagnoses. The challenges of working with Medicaid, play therapy treatment planning and how to provide documentation to the court will be discussed. We will review specific vignettes, giving and sharing our own ideas of ways to work with children facing the
stress of abuse, disrupted attachments, broken family systems and mental illness.

Registration includes continental breakfast
Attendees receive a gift bag

Play therapy toys and books will be available for purchase
CE certificate included in the fee; never an extra charge 
     2012 Training Schedule
Play Therapy with Families
Pam Dyson
February 10, 2012
Presented by Pam Dyson, MA, LPC, RPT 

Play Therapy with Anxious Children
February 25, 2012
Presented by Pam Dyson, MA, LPC, RPT

Play Therapy for Grieving Children & Children of Divorce
March 10, 2012
Presented by Pam Dyson, MA, LPC, RPT 

Play Therapy: Specialized Groups & Adolescents
MaKatie Saborch 31, 2012
Presented by Katie Sabo, MA, LPC, CSC, RPT 

Play Therapy for Preschoolers
April 13, 2012
Presented by Pam Dyson, MA, LPC, RPT

Your paid registration includes continental breakfast and a gift bag!
Play therapy books and toys are available for sale at every training.
CE certificate included in the fee; never an extra charge.    

All trainings, unless otherwise noted, are held at the offices of  
Pam Dyson, MA, LPC, RPT.  Click HERE for location information.

January 3, 2012

Are You Using Pinterest?

Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard. It lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find in your life. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.

I'm relatively new at Pinterest but have found it to be an awesome place to find resources pinned by therapists who are as passionate as I am about play therapy.

 I have several play therapy related boards and I've gained many followers. Here's my direct link. Pinterest - Pam Dyson Check out my boards, follow all or some of my boards and I'll follow you back!

January 2, 2012

Assemble a Play Therapy Kit for only $25.00

Putting together a play therapy kit doesn't have to break your budget. By shopping dollar stores I put together this selection of toys and I only spent $25.00.