Attachment Centered Play Therapy: Repair Relational Trauma and Build Secure Attachment to Accelerate Family Treatment – Clair Mellenthin
When trauma, grief, and loss disrupts the family system, a child may feel unprotected, unloved, or disbelieved, causing relational injury and at times rupture the attachment bond. Children, not having the words to express how they feel, display the hurt in maladaptive ways — aggression, rage, defiance, oppositional behaviors, shutting down, hiding away, or numbing. For the parent, shame is a factor. Shame that they can’t “parent away” the hurt and the misbehavior—that their love isn’t “good enough”.
How do we as therapists, help families begin repairing and rebuilding the lost connection/disruption?
Watch me in this interactive recording to discover an integrative therapeutic approach, Attachment Centered Play Therapy that includes the parents in the therapy process. The parent is integral in creating conditions of security and trustworthiness to address attachment wounds, trauma, grief and loss.
This developmentally appropriate, client-centered method brings a holistic, systemic approach to address:
- Vulnerability to acknowledge the hurt, and the roadblocks
- Challenging issues of shame, vulnerability, grief, and loss
- Aggression and defiance and other maladaptive behavioral issues
- Attachment centered and proactive strategies instead of reactivity or reactive responses
- Repairing and strengthening the bonds of attachment between parent and child
- Parents becoming a resource, as well as coregulator for their child
- Rapport building with parents (this is a MUST in child and family therapy)
You’ll learn new and innovative attachment-centered play therapy techniques including hands on experiential activities, guided imagery, sand tray interventions, and expressive arts—practicing sand tray therapy, techniques assessing family relationships, bonds of attachment, and family dynamics.
We will explore difficult cases, ask questions, develop new assessment skills, and explore styles of attachment and how this plays out in therapeutic relationships with our clients.
- Evaluate how to introduce and maintain parent involvement in play therapy to promote a secure attachment.
- Demonstrate two attachment centered play therapy techniques to decrease aggression and defiance in children.
- Conceptualize generational attachment patterns and how these manifests in family-based play therapy.
- Analyze attachment theory as it applies to play therapy to provide integrated therapeutic treatment.
- Evaluate the four key concepts of attachment theory and how these concepts apply to attachment centered play therapy.
- Analyze various family systems through the lens of attachment theory to strengthen clinical assessment skills
Advancing Family Treatment with Play Therapy
- 4 key concepts of attachment
- Blending attachment theory with play therapy
- Attachment patterns across the lifespan and impact on parent/child relationship
- Risks and limitations
Invite Parents to Play
- Engagement strategies to strengthen parent/child relationship
- Roadblocks and triggers – parent/child/therapist
- Shame and vulnerability – shame shields
- Build rappaport and make room for parent in the playroom
- Sand tray, genograms, play-based treatment planning
- Establish boundaries and set expectations
- Encourage participation
Attachment Centered Play Therapy Strategies
- Treatment of relational trauma – Attachment, wounding and ruptures
- Parent/child relationship cycle
- Generational attachment patterns –
- Catch me if you can
- Butterfly fly away
- Two hands
- Empowerment collage
Case Studies of Abuse; Healing Attachment Wounds
Challenging Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
- Defiance, ODD, moodiness, anger, aggressiveness and school refusal
- Attachment injuries at root of undesirable behavior
- Prescriptive play therapy interventions
- Self-regulation, co-regulation
- calm down jars, guided imagery
Case Studies of Extreme Defiance and School Refusal
Strategies to Promote Positive Attachment-Based Parenting
- Maximize parent involvement to rebuild trust, repair injuries
- Proactive vs reactive parenting
- Get parent buy in
Case Study of Proactive vs Reactive Parenting
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