Family Play Therapy to Enhance Attachment

Program Goals

The overriding goal of this workshop is to highlight the pivotal role of attachment when working with children’s social or emotional difficulties and and help participants understand how parental/caregiver responses can contribute to the continuation or amelioration of problem behaviors. Although individual therapy with children is useful and promotes health, working separate from attachment figures tends to dilute its impact. Thus, dyadic and family work with a focus on establishing or enhancing parent/child attachment, is critical to a family’s willingness or ability to make successful changes. Family play therapy is a hybrid approach that includes systemic, attachment-based, and play therapy approaches, applied specifically to establish, enhance, and support family cohesion, empathy, and emotional connectedness. A variety of attachment-based approaches will be presented including Theraplay, Circle of Security principles, and the integration of expressive therapies including play, art, and sand therapy approaches. In addition, experiential learning will allow participants to practice and learn the applicability of several family play therapy activities including Solution Circles, Family Aquariums, Family Play Genograms, Solution Circles, and others. Participants will experience the value of engaging in play therapy techniques that are active, dynamic, physical and creative and increase feelings of well-being and confidence in relational connections.

Program Schedule

The daily schedule will consist of didactic presentations, experiential work, clinical case presentations, and group work to process specific clinical presentations of play therapy.

This course is presented in two full-days (twelve hours).

Day One

9:00 – 9:30 Introductions and needs assessment: Participant’s “wish list”
9:30 - 10:45 Presentation on attachment and specific manifestations of enmeshed or disengaged boundaries
10:45 - 11:00 Break
11:00 - 12:00 Looking at family dynamics through a systemic lens
12:00 - 1:00 LUNCH
1:00 - 2:30 Family play therapy rationale and application
2:30 - 2:45 BREAK
2:45 - 5:00 Opportunities for experiential work and questions and answers

Day Two

9:00 – 9:30 Review of previous day and clarifications
9:30 -10:45 Theraplay and Circle of Security Principles
10:45 - 11:00 Break
11:00 -12:00 Theraplay and Circle of Security Principles (cont’d)
12:00 - 1:00 LUNCH
1:00 - 2:30 Family play therapy rationale, application, and activities
2:30 - 2:45 BREAK
2:45 - 5:00 Opportunities for experiential work and questions and answers

Workshop Objectives

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

  • Define attachment and list three types of attachment and how those might become obvious through observation of dyadic play therapy;
  • Define the terms “systemic” or “contextual” family therapy and list two reasons for play therapists to consider dyadic work;
  • Define the rationale for integrating play and family therapy approaches:
  • List three family play therapy activities;
  • Provide guidelines for the active observation of family dynamics as parents engage in play-therapy activities;
  • List two additional observation categories when working with families with family play therapy;
  • Name three important attachment-based models that utilize or highlight play therapy approaches.

General Course Information

This course is limited to 25 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 two- day class.

Continuing Education Credits: Starbright Training Institute is approved by the Association for Play Therapy to offer continuing education specific to play therapy. APT approved Provider #96-029. STI maintains responsibility for the program.
Commonwealth Educational Seminars approves many of our courses and provides CEs specific to psychology, social work, MFT, and Professional Counseling. Commonwealth Educational Seminars ( has approved this course and you will receive information on how to apply for, and print, your certificate. Please go to their website for additional information or check our website,


Eliana Gil, Ph.D. is Founder and Senior Clinical Consultant of Gil Institute for Trauma Recovery and Education and Director of Starbright Training Institute.

Phone: 703-980-2886.
Website: and and