The Power of Play: Proven Strategies for Trauma and Attachment in Children & Adolescents

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Play Therapy is a powerful tool for children who’ve experienced trauma. It is a safe space where they can feel in control, learn how to identify and manage...
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Clair Mellenthin
6 Hours 12 Minutes
Audio and Video
Jan 26, 2017


  • Interactive day of case examples, videos and hands-on techniques
  • Rebuild trust in parent-child relationship
  • Create developmentally appropriate trauma narratives
  • Tools to decrease nightmares, flashbacks and intrusive thoughts

Play Therapy is a powerful tool for children who’ve experienced trauma. It is a safe space where they can feel in control, learn how to identify and manage distressing symptoms and give language to what they are feeling within their body and mind.

In this innovative workshop, we will explore how trauma impacts the brain, the resulting impact on the parent-child relationship, as well as how to effectively treat and resolve trauma symptoms utilizing attachment-centered play therapy techniques.

By giving children opportunities to work in a child-centered setting, you will observe and document how children:

  • Utilize gradual exposure
  • Regulate affect
  • Gain knowledge of their traumatic experiences
  • Manage their experiences that can feel overwhelming or frightening

This trauma-anchored model teaches you powerful play therapy interventions. It deepens metaphor work by amplifying the child’s ability to explore the material they externalize, and provides the child with a safe, predictable environment for processing interpersonal trauma. You will learn theory and techniques that values children’s pacing, respects defensive strategies, and seeks to help children build alternative skills to cope with difficult thoughts, emotions and behaviors.



Framework of Attachment Theory

  • Rethinking the Attachment Spectrum
  • 4 Key concepts of Attachment Theory
  • Creating safety in parent-child relationship

The Brain-Behavior Relationship

  • Parts of the brain affected by trauma
  • Regulatory processing and Executive functioning
  • Impact on right brain and its behavioral consequence
  • Warning signs of trauma
  • Trauma impact on the parent-child relationship
  • Behavior and emotional challenges

Proven Play Therapy Techniques to Strengthen Parent-Child Attachment

  • Decrease whining, clinging, angry, avoidant behaviors in child clients
  • Improve family relationships and communication skills
  • Rebuild trust in the parent-child relationship
  • Promote whole-child and whole-brain healing

Play Therapy Techniques to Treat Trauma, Utilizing Attachment-Centered Therapy

  • Guided Imagery to teach distress tolerance
  • Lemon Squeezies - Full Body Relaxation to reconnect with the body, decrease trauma symptoms
  • My Many Colors of Me - Increase emotional intelligence and connect feelings to words instead of acting out behaviors
  • Inside/Outside Box - Increase self-esteem and self-acceptance
  • Telling My Story - Create age-appropriate trauma narratives
  • Maximize the role of parents and caretakers
  • Create hands-on tools to decrease trauma symptoms: flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, and nightmares


The Power of Play: Proven Strategies for Trauma and Attachment in Children & Adolescents

Clair Mellenthin, LCSW, RPT-S Related seminars and products: 4

Clair Mellenthin, LCSW, RPT-S, is a Registered Play Therapist Supervisor and is the past president of the Utah Association for Play Therapy. Throughout her career, she has focused on providing therapy to children, teens, and their families. Clair is the director of Child and Adolescent Services at Wasatch Family Therapy. She is a sought-after supervisor, training graduate students and interns in play therapy, and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Southern California MSW program. Clair is the author of Play Therapy: Engaging & Powerful Techniques for the Treatment of Childhood Disorders (PESI, 2018) and My Many Colors of Me Workbook. (Self-Published, 2013).  In addition to being an experienced play therapist and professor, she frequently presents professional play therapy and family therapy trainings and appears on local and national TV and radio as an expert on children and family issues.


Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Clair Mellenthin is the clinical director at Wasatch Family Therapy. She is the author of My Many Colors of Me Workbook; she maintains intellectual property rights and receives royalties. Ms. Mellenthin receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.
Non-financial: Clair Mellenthin is the president of the Utah Association for Play Therapy.