Decreasing Childhood Anxiety with Play Therapy and CBT

Andrea McLeod, LCSW, RPT-S

Program Goals

The goal of this workshop is to provide participants with information about how to successfully implement play therapy and playful Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approaches with children experiencing anxiety. Play Therapy is relationship-based and provides children with 1) the opportunity to self-direct; 2) the experience of control and mastery; and 3) the experience of a permissive environment and relationship in which they can access natural healing mechanisms such as post-trauma play. Children who suffer from anxiety can benefit from opportunities to work with clinicians who are able to gain an understanding of the child’s perspective, experiences, and triggers. Clinicians who learn to utilize effective play therapy and playful CBT skills, are better able to both allow and encourage children to express and release affect, explore alternative coping skills to gain understanding and become more regulated, and begin to manage thoughts and emotions that can feel overwhelming or frightening. This workshop will serve to develop and enhance participants’ skills to integrate and implement an integrated approach highlighting play therapy and CBT in their settings and amplify children’s exploration of the material they externalize, within a safe, predictable environment.
This program will teach participants the benefits of adding play therapy to their CBT services and vice versa, exploring how a fully integrated approach provides flexibility and playfulness while giving children useful strategies for coping with difficult thoughts, emotions, or behaviors.

Program Schedule

The schedule will consist of didactic presentations, experiential work, and processing clinical case material.  

Schedule of Day 1

9:00 – 9:30Introductions and needs assessment: Participant’s “wish list”
09:30 -10:45Experiential exercises that highlight play therapy basic principles
10:45 -11:00BREAK
11:00 -12:00Didactic presentation of basic play therapy and CBT skills, the relevance of phenomenological experiences, and basic principles to implementing a successful CBT-based play therapy practice.
12:00 - 1:00LUNCH
01:00 - 2:30Discussion of physical reactions to anxiety and ways to identify triggers to stress.
02:30 - 2:45BREAK
02:45 - 4:30Experiential exercises, group work to develop responses to clinical case discussions

Schedule of Day 2

09:00 – 9:30Clinical case discussions to explore considerations of appropriate populations for this intervention
9:30 -10:45Experiential work with emphasis on integrating play therapy skills and goals to CBT techniques and vice versa
10:45 -11:00BREAK
11:00 - 12:00Didactic presentation highlighting the concepts of negative thought patterns, core beliefs, and cognitive distortions in child friendly and playful ways
12:00 - 01:00LUNCH
01:00 - 2:30Clinical case presentation exploring the use of expressive therapies with older adolescents and teens experiencing anxiety
02:30 - 2:45 BREAK
02:45 - 4:30Clinical case discussion and termination exercise

Course Objectives

By the end of the course participants will be able to:

  •  List three play therapy strategies for reducing anxiety in school-age children
  •  Apply a minimum of two CBT principles into play therapy sessions
  •  Demonstrate an understanding of three specific benefits of integrating play therapy and CBT principles
  •  Describe play therapy and list two basic principles
  •  Explain play therapy as a theoretical intervention and not "just playing"
  •  Describe CBT and list two basic principles
  •  List two examples of how play therapy and CBT can be viewed as compatible
  •  List two counterindications of using an integrated approach of play therapy and CBT
  •  Use 2 brain based anxiety principles in a play session
  •  Identify a brain based approach to anxiety in child friendly language
  •  Demonstrate knowledge of at least 3 ways the body gives clues that anxiety is on the rise.

General Course Information

This course is limited to 15 participants and is designed to facilitate experiential work, group discussion, and processing of clinical material. Participants will have ample opportunity to discuss their specific needs and clinical questions. Participant feedback will be sought out throughout the day.

Clinical case discussions will adhere to HIPPA regulations regarding client confidentiality.

Target audience is Mental Health Professionals, Social Workers, Psychologists, etc.

The program is Beginning Level

This event is sponsored by Starbright Training Institute. Starbright Training Institute is approved by the Association for Play Therapy to offer continuing education specific to play therapy (APT Provider No. 96-029).

Continuing Education Credit is pending through Commonwealth Educational Seminars for the following professions:

It is the participant's responsibility to check with their individual state boards to verify CE requirements for their state.


Commonwealth Educational Seminars is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Commonwealth Educational Seminars maintains responsibility for these programs and their content.

Licensed Professional Counselors/Licensed Mental Health Counselors:

Commonwealth Educational Seminars (CES) is entitled to award continuing education credit for Licensed Professional Counselors/Licensed Mental Health Counselors. Please visit CES CE CREDIT to see all states that are covered for LPCs/LMHCs. CES maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

Social Workers:

Commonwealth Educational Seminars (CES) is entitled to award continuing education credit for Social Workers. Please visit CES CE CREDIT to see all states that are covered for Social Workers. CES maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

If applicable: Social Workers – New York State

Commonwealth Educational Seminars is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers. #SW-0444.

Licensed Marriage & Family Therapists:

Commonwealth Educational Seminars (CES) is entitled to award continuing education credit for Licensed Marriage & Family Therapists. Please visit CES CE CREDIT to see all states that are covered for LMFTs. CES maintains responsibility for this program and its content.


As an American Psychological Association (APA) approved provider, CES programs are accepted by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). These courses can be utilized by nurses to renew their certification and will be accepted by the ANCC. Every state Board of Nursing accepts ANCC approved programs except California and Iowa, however CES is also an approved Continuing Education provider by the California Board of Registered Nursing (Provider # CEP15567) which is also accepted by the Iowa Board of Nursing.

For information about continuing education credit, fees, and deadlines for cancellations/refunds, please see It is the participant's responsibility to check with their individual state boards to verify CE requirements for their state.

Myriam Goldin, LCSW; RPT-S, is Director of Starbright Training Institute.

Phone:  703-980-2886.


Web Page:


Athena A. Drewes. Blending Play Therapy with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Evidence-Based and Other Effective Treatments and Techniques. 2009.

Dee Ray. Advanced Play Therapy: Essential Conditions, Knowledge, and Skills for Child Practice 1st Edition. 2011.

Judith S. Beck. Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Second Edition: Basics and Beyond 2nd Edition. 2011.

Schaefer, C.E., & Drewes, A.A. (Eds.). (2014). The therapeutic powers of play: 20 core agents of change. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Drewes, A.A. (2011). Integrating plat therapy theories into practice. In A.A. Drewes,  S.C. Bratton, & C. Schaefer (Eds.), Integrative play therapy. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Grievance Policy

Commonwealth Educational Seminars (CES) seeks to ensure equitable treatment of every person and to make every attempt to resolve grievances in a fair manner. Please submit a written grievance to: Myriam Goldin, LCSW; RPT-S, Director of Starbright Training Institute. Phone: 703-980-2886. Email: Web Page:
Grievances would receive, to the best of our ability, corrective action in order to prevent further problems.

Accommodations for the Differently Abled Starbright Training Institute’s training facilities are handicap accessible. Individuals
needing special accommodations please contact the Director of Starbright Training Institute. See contact information above.

Course Instructor Contact Information

Name: Andrea McLeod LCSW, RPT-S. Andrea is a Certified Child Centered Play
Therapist, is a foundational level Theraplay practitioner, and is a Registered play therapy
supervisor. . She currently works at Gil Institute.
Phone: 513-312-8609