January 12, 2015

My New Blog

I left St. Louis for Dallas seven months ago and closed the St. Louis Center for Play Therapy Training.

I've now opened the DFW Center for Play Therapy Training and with it comes a brand new blog which you can find here DFW Center for Play Therapy Training Blog

The blog will provide play therapy tips and resources. I hope you will join me!

May 3, 2014

A Message From Pam Dyson

It is with mixed emotions that I need to announce that after April 30, 2014, the St. Louis Center for Play Therapy Training will no longer be offering play therapy seminars in the St. Louis region.

My husband's employer is relocating him to Dallas, Texas. I will be moving my clinical practice to the Dallas-Fort Worth are and establishing a new play therapy training center. I look forward to offering play therapy services and training opportunities in a new location yet I will miss St. Louis and the network of people I have connected with professionally over the course of my career as a play therapist.

I will maintain a presence on social media platforms and hope you will continue to connect with me there. I will also continue to be available to bring play therapy training to agencies and conferences throughout the country.

I would like to take this opportunity to say "Thank You" to all of you who have supported my efforts since 2010 in building the St. Louis Center for Play Therapy Training. I feel blessed and fortunate to have met each of you and I hope you were encouraged and supported both personally and professionally when you attended one of our play therapy trainings. 

Warm regards,
Pam Dyson, MA, LPC, RPT 

February 21, 2014

Three Wishes For Me And My Family

By: Katherine Arkell, LMSW, RPT-S - Guest Blogger

As I see mainly children and adolescents in my practice, and I’m a firm believer in systems theory, I am always looking for activities that I can do with either a child and parent/caregiver or the entire family (client, parents and siblings). I’ve found the following two activities to be engaging, fun and telling.


Group of 2 or more; ages 6 thru adult

Supplies:                   One clipboard per person
                                Assorted markers, crayons, colored pencils
                                3 worksheets per person labeled with the following:
                                        Wish Number 1 For Me And My Family
                                        Wish Number 2 For Me And My Family
                                        Wish Number 3 For Me And My Family

Give each family member a clipboard with 3 worksheets attached.  Instructions are as follows “Please draw 3 wishes for your family – one wish on each sheet. You may draw whatever you want – the sky’s the limit – no right or wrong - but you may not use any letters or words. When you are finished drawing, turn over your completed work until everyone else is done.” 

Once all members have completed their drawings, have one member share one of their drawings/wishes by holding it up for the others to guess what it is.  The drawer may give hints if necessary.  Once the wish is correctly guessed the drawer can expound on the drawing/wish if they would like to. They then choose the next member they would like to have share a drawing/wish. Continue until all members have shared all three drawings/wishes.   

Questions for discussion upon completion of activity include:

o   Did anybody’s wish surprise you?
o   How alike where some of your wishes? How different?
o   What would it take to make the wish a reality?
o   What are you doing right now to make the wish come true?


Katherine Arkell, LMSW, RPT-S, is a Licensed Master Social Worker and Registered Play Therapist Supervisor in private practice in Saginaw, MI. She is a 2000 graduate from Valdosta State University, GA, and has worked in a variety of settings involving children, adolescents and their families. You can learn more about Katherine on her web site KDA PLAY  and follow her on Facebook Child And Family Therapy

February 9, 2014

Thank You Guest Bloggers!

It was such a special treat to have play therapists as guest bloggers during National Play Therapy Week. They shared their wisdom and creativity and their passion for play therapy was inspirational to everyone who follows this blog. 

I want to personally thank Amy Flaherty, Tammi Van Hollander, Clair Mellenthin, Kim Peterson, Ana Tindall and Stephanie Holloway for taking the time to write a guest blog entry as a way of helping APT promote public awareness of play therapy.

The feedback on having guest bloggers was so overwhelmingly positive that I've decided to use guest bloggers on a regular basis. If you're a Registered Play Therapist (RPT), or someone who is working toward becoming a RPT, school counselor who uses play therapy or a graduate student enrolled in a university play therapy course I'd like to encourage you to submit a guest blog entry. 

Perhaps you've created a technique you'd like to share. Maybe you frequently use a play therapy technique created by another play therapist and you'd like to share how you've adapted it to fit your clientele. Maybe you've been inspired by someone like Garry Landreth, Charles Schaefer, Eliana Gill, etc., and you'd like to share what you've learned by reading their books or attending their seminars.

If you're interested in being a guest blogger send me an email.  Put the words "Guest Blogger" in the subject line and briefly tell me about your interest and experience in play therapy and the topic you would like to share. 


February 8, 2014

Self-Care During National Play Therapy Week

By Stephanie Holloway, LSCSW, RPT-S - Guest Blogger

Who practiced self care today?  Ok, let me be a bit more realistic and ask who practiced self care this week?  During the last month?  Yes, that’s what I thought….it’s been a while!  

I’m sure you have a number of good reasons why you didn’t fit that into your schedule.  After all, you’re a play therapist, you’re up to your elbows in paperwork, you have paint on your favorite pants, you can find more glitter on your body than in the bottle, and after a full day of clients you are ready for a hot shower and bed.  Who would have time for self care after all of that?

Many people assume that because you are a play therapist you  spend your days “playing” with your clients.  In all of that play you must be meeting some of your self care needs, right?  Well, I hate to disappoint you and you probably already know the answer, but “No, you aren’t!” 

Many of us spend time with parents and caregivers reminding them of the importance of self care, yet we don’t always practice what we preach.  Why is that?  Well, my personal thought is that most (if not all) of us in this profession are here because we are helpers by nature and yet we fail to care for ourselves most often.  

I challenge you to make time to care for yourself on a daily basis even if it's five minutes a day.  You can do a one minute meditation between clients. Yoga moves are always good to help you through the day. Drink water all day long to cleanse your body, listen to music, watch something funny on YouTube, find a scent of lotion or a candle that is pleasing to you. Let chocolate melt in your mouth – resist the urge to chew it and swallow it. Eat healthy, take a brisk five minute walk, or do something that makes your heart smile and your body feel good.  Don’t forget to eat your breakfast and move away from your desk for lunch.   

Take time to celebrate you and enjoy those you love.  If all else fails, practice a random act of kindness – it will not only make you feel good, but it will obviously make someone else feel cared for!  Now, step away from the computer and go take care of yourself!

Stephanie Holloway is a 1998 graduate of the University of Kansas with an MSW.  She is a Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker, Registered Play Therapist – Supervisor, StoryPlay® Practitioner and Facilitator, and she is serving her fourth year on the Kansas Association for Play Therapy as Advisor to The Board.  She has a private practice in Junction City, KS.  Learn more about Stephanie on her website Play For Children and on her Facebook Page

February 7, 2014

The Home-Based Play Therapist: Tips, Tricks, and Toys

By Ana Tindall, MA, LPC, RPT, CTS, IMH-II - Guest Blogger

After spending six years completing home visits with families in impoverished homes in Detroit, MI in both a research and therapy capacity, I have compiled a list of tips, tricks and toys for home-based play therapy.


     Have a safety buddy. Your buddy doesn’t need to know where you are at all times. It is nice to have a safety buddy when you know you are going into a potentially unsafe situation, such as having called CPS the week prior and being unsure how the family will react or knowing an abusive spouse will be in the house.    

When possible park your car in the street and in the direction of your exit. Parking in the driveway allows for you to get blocked in or makes it difficult to leave in an emergency.  

Keep your car with at least a half a tank of gas. If you need to get away from a situation, fumes in your gas tank are not going to last long.

     Put your purse in the trunk and try not to leave valuables in sight within your car.

     Keep your phone and keys on your person at all times! Toys can be replaced, and can be left behind, if needed. You can’t be replaced!

     Be mindful of the balance between the client’s right to confidentiality and your own professional protection. If conducting a play therapy session in a child's bedroom, keep the door half open. It only takes one parental complaint regarding inappropriate physical touching for your career to be over. 

     Finally, and most importantly, trust your gut. If a situation makes you uncomfortable or you get a funny feeling simply call the family and ask to reschedule.


Summers can be hot! Keep a cooler in your car with an icepack for your water bottle, deodorant (many of my families don’t have AC and no one wants a stinky therapist), and sunscreen along with your lunch.

Keep an eye out for a safe place to use the restroom such as a fast-food restaurant or coffee place. Try to use public restrooms over a client’s restroom.

     Pandora and Spotify are great to download as ways to keep you company while driving. Books on CD are also great.


     I based my toy collection for home visiting from Garry Landreth’s suggestions in Play Therapy: The Art of the Relationship (2012). 
     I use a carry on suitcase as my toys’ home. The wheels allow for easy transportation out of your trunk and into your client’s home.

Sheet bags (the plastic ones with zippers) are great for organizing 
     toys into categories.

     A crayon box in one of the external pockets is a nice way to keep your 
     art materials separate from the toys. Don’t use crayons in hot weather as they melt.

Ana Tindall, MA, LPC, CTS, IMH-II, RPT is an Integrated Health Care Therapist providing therapy to children and their families. She is a 2012 graduate of the Association for Play Therapy Leadership Academy and is currently serving on the APT Public Awareness Task Force and has served on the APT RPT/S Review committee and the MIAPT Nomination and Elections committee.