February 5, 2014

Play Therapy Rocks!

By Tammi Van Hollander, LCSW, RPT - Guest Blogger


Being a play therapist is one of the best jobs in the world and I often want to shout it from the rooftops. I am a strong advocate for building awareness of play therapy and speaking out on the importance of play. 

In May 2013, I had the opportunity to present a workshop in Israel on "The Healing Power of Stones: Interventions that Rock." Few people knew what play therapy was and "stones" were not seen as a symbol of healing. In Israel stones represent the destruction of the temple, the Israeli/ Arab conflict, and stones were used as a weapon. Many parents would not allow their children to bring stones into their home as they feared they would be used in a violent manner. 

The healing power of stones and rocks are limitless and they can become a valuable tool for any professional working with children. Stones can bring us back to our earliest childhood memories as well as keep us centered. Workshop participants learned that playing with stones can bring hours of entertainment to a child and quiet their nervous system. These activities will help children learn to verbalize their feelings, decrease anxiety, build resilience, gain connection, and quiet the child’s mind.

During the two hour playful interactive workshop, participants gained a handful of creative interventions that are simple and effective. These interventions can be used with any age group and any setting. The interventions and use of stones were experienced through story-telling, game play, sand tray and group work. 


Through case studies, mindfulness exercises, and play interventions, participants learned both directive and non-directive child-centered play therapy techniques to aid in the healing process. The workshop ended with a community sandtray to honor the healing power of play.

One of the class participant’s stated" We can now see the educational power of everyday objects that surround us on a daily basis." 

Introducing play therapy in Israel was an experience I will cherish forever. Although, cultures may be different and we have to be aware of the populations that we work with, if we trust the process and understand that play is universal, great strides can be made and healing will occur. 

For specific "Activities that Rock" see my blog Imagery Through Play.

Tammi Van Hollander, LCSW, RPT is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Registered Play Therapist with a specialty in Sandtray Play Therapy. She received her Masters of Social Work from University of Pennsylvania and trained at The Family and Play Therapy Center in Philadelphia. Tammi is an international presenter and advocate. She owns a private practice where she sees children, families, teens and adults. You can follow Tammi on her Face Book Page. 

2 comments:

  1. Wow Tammi!

    Congrats on that amazing experience. I love how you were able to incorporate the power of the everyday into something therapeutic for those who attended. I love your work with sandtray and all things play therapy. Will continue to follow your blog and play therapy activities as much as possible!

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  2. Amy, Thank you so much for your kind words and I will continue to spread awareness of play therapy and share my favorite interventions with you. One of the many wonderful things about play therapy is a strong, passionate community with a true gift to heal creatively.

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