Attachment Focused Play Therapy: Theraplay® Techniques to Transform Your Most Challenging, Resistant & Dysregulated Children

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Do you struggle with children who: Are you also frustrated with parents who are angry and won’t listen to your advice? Parents who are resentful and dissat...
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Dafna Lender
5 Hours 57 Minutes
Audio and Video
Nov 30, 2018


Do you struggle with children who:

  • Are aggressive and defiant?
  • Wreck your treatment room and waste your materials?
  • Act chaotic, silly and/or will not sit still?
  • Refuse to talk and are disengaged?
  • Behave inappropriately (oppositional, controlling, avoid eye contact)?

Are you also frustrated with parents who are angry and won’t listen to your advice? Parents who are resentful and dissatisfied with you, as well as their own child? If you answered YES to any of the above then you need to watch this seminar! I will show you evidence-based activities to break through resistance and harness the power of the child-parent relationship to make rapid and dramatic changes.

Theraplay reaches your most resistant, traumatized, dysregulated and hard to manage children and rapidly transforms them into a calmer, more cooperative child so you can get therapeutic work done! Theraplay helps you create an atmosphere where children are happy to come to therapy and become quickly and fully engaged in the therapeutic process.

Theraplay also involves parents in an immediate and positive way, giving them experiences of success and pride in their children, so they can feel motivated to support them. With the child, the parent and you, the therapist, all on the same team you have a winning combination for positive and lasting change.



The 4 Dimensions of Theraplay®
  • To Address Behavioral Problems and Gain Connection Cooperation
    • Structure: organization and safety
    • Engagement: connection, joy, co-regulation of strong emotions
    • Nurture: calming, emotional nourishment, secure base
    • Challenge: recognition, ride, celebration of self
Calm an Overactive/Aggressive/Oppositional Child
  • Strategies to prevent outbursts and trauma-based aggression (The P.R.O.M.P.T) method)
    • Proximity
    • Rhythm
    • Optimal movement
    • Touch response
  • Techniques to identify non-verbal signs of stress
  • Activities for turning resistance into a connecting experience
  • Video case examples: transformation from aggressive & uncooperative to focused & relaxed
Engage the Disconnected Child
  • Strategies to capture and keep a child’s attention (The G.R.E.A.T. method)
    • Gesture
    • Rhythm
    • Eye contact
    • Affect
    • Tone communication
  • Activities that children can’t resist getting involved in
    • Cotton ball war
    • Shaving ball pass
  • Interventions to turn passivity into cooperation
    • Aluminum foil print
    • Paper punch
  • Techniques to make sense of non-verbal communication & get child to start talking
    • Cotton ball blow
    • Balloon pass
  • Video case example: before and after of clients ages 1-17
Promote Positive Parent-Child Relationship
  • Activities to strengthen the parent-child attachment
    • Cotton ball hockey
    • Mirror mirror
    • Measuring
  • Techniques to increase empathy by using eye contact, touch and turn-taking
    • Eye signal dance
    • Slippery slip
  • Activities that create and solidify connection by fostering moments of joy
    • Balancing pillows
    • Feather decorate
  • Interventions to decrease arguments and gain cooperation
    • Identify a child engaging in a power struggle before they do
    • Identify when oppositionality is really a trauma reaction
    • Empathy to melt oppositional behaviors
    • Know when to cool it
  • Strategies to increase self-esteem and make a child feel unique
    • Special snack
    • Twinkle song
    • Favorite things
    • Powder prints
  • Video case example: high and low functioning clients


Attachment Focused Play Therapy: Theraplay® Techniques to Transform Your Most Challenging, Resistant & Dysregulated Children

Dafna Lender, LCSW Related seminars and products: 5

Dafna Lender, LCSW serves as the program director at The Theraplay Institute in Evanston, IL and is certified as a practitioner, supervisor and trainer in both Theraplay and Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP). Dafna trains psychotherapists internationally in these methods and trains in three languages. She is also a supervisor and author in the field of treating attachment and trauma issues in children.

Dafna has spent her career focusing children’s development of a secure attachment with their caregivers while resolving issues in their traumatic history. Early in her career, Dafna worked in treatment foster care and witnessed child after child “fail” out of foster placements due to difficult behavior. Children were disruptive, unsettled and unhappy, and their caregivers felt defeated. Dafna’s sense of discouragement went away after taking the Theraplay training and learning direct, concrete ideas and interactions that she could apply in home with her treatment families to promote healthier, more hopeful relationships. Dafna has successfully treated children with a variety of backgrounds, including children raised in orphanages, with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, exposed to domestic violence and community violence and children of parents with chronic mental illness. Dafna has worked in the field of child welfare and child mental health for 20+ years.

Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Dafna Lender has an employment relationship with The Theraplay Institute. She receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.

Non-financial: Dafna Lender has no relevant non-financial relationship to disclose.