How to Help Child Survivors of a Loved Ones’ Suicide through Play Therapy

Teri V. Krull, LCSW, RPT-S, DCSW (NASW)

Program Goals:

Suicide of a loved one is difficult for anyone of any age¾it is often more complicated for child clients. Child survivors of a loved one’s suicide have historically been overlooked as a special treatment population. For each of the 43,000 plus people who die each year from suicide, there are approximately 6 to 8 bereaved survivors per single suicide.  Of those survivors, over 60,000 are children.  The adults responsible for their care are often bereaved survivors themselves and thus potentially compromised in their ability to competently and objectively meet the needs of the children. Play therapists are in a unique position to provide time-sensitive, developmentally-appropriate play therapy interventions to support and treat these child clients (and caretakers).

This course is designed to provide play therapists with a wide range of critical information, including:

  • General information about suicide;
  • Multicultural issues related to suicide and grieving;
  • Developmental considerations when providing play therapy;
  • Play therapy techniques specific to this population;
  • Self-care for the play therapist to avoid secondary trauma.

The daily schedule will consist of specific play therapy instruction and clinical case illustrations and vignettes. Participants will discuss and practice skill-building techniques for this treatment population. In addition participants will receive specific/ practical instruction on play therapy with this population and will be encouraged to discuss their professional needs/questions and concerns throughout the day.

Program Schedule:

9:00- 09:30 am Introductions/ participant’s goals for today/ What do you hope to take away from today’s instruction?
09:30 -10:45 am Definitions, statistics, multicultural consideration and discussion as it relates to suicide.
10:45 -11:00 am BREAK
11:00 - Noon Play therapy specific discussion and how to support a safe treatment space for children to express their thoughts and feelings regarding the suicide of their loved one.  The speaker will talk about complicated grief and show a brief film clip and will also discuss contemporary concerns about bullying and oppression as it relates to suicide. Professional discussion will be encouraged.
Noon - 1:00 pm LUNCH
01:00 - 2:30 pm Instruction of techniques specific to this population. Practice and skill-building of these techniques. Brief film.
02:30 - 2:45 pm BREAK
02:45 - 4:30 pm Play therapy clinical case discussions and self -care as it relates to possible secondary trauma. In addition, issues of resilience and hope will be touched on. Participant questions will be addressed during brief Q and A at end of day.

Learning Objectives:

At the end of this course participants, through a play therapy lens, will be able to:

  • Describe definitions and identify statistics related to child survivors of a loved ones’ suicide so as to best treat this play therapy client.
  • Discuss the play therapist’s responsibility to secure increased multicultural understanding of child’s community and family regarding their perceptions of suicide and grief.
  • Describe specific play therapy issues that could arise in the treatment with minors and parents impacted by suicide and complicated grief.
  • Identify developmentally based play therapy methods to best serve this treatment population.
  • Identify at least 3 play therapy techniques useful with this play therapy treatment population
  • Utilize play therapy clinical case examples and vignettes, demonstrating how the play therapist might proceed using the play therapy techniques.
  • Identify three useful methods of self- care, if as a play therapist, the professional is faced with aspects of secondary trauma related to this treatment population.


  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Suicide Facts and Figures, United States (2019). Online
  • Arizona Coalition for Suicide Prevention Conferences, Phoenix, October 2017 and 2018.
  • Goicoechea, Jessie and Fitzpatrick, Teal. (2019). To Know or Not to Know: Empathic Use of Client Background Information in Child-Centered Play Therapy, International Journal of Play Therapy. Vol. 28, No. 1, 22-33
  • Grollman, Earl. (1990). Talking to Children About Death. Beacon Books, Boston.
  • Myrick, Amie and Green, Eric. (2014). Establishing Safety and Stabilization in Traumatized Youth: Clinical Implications for Play Therapists, International Journal of Play Therapy.  Vol. 23, No. 2, 100 -113.
  • Requarth, Margo (2006). After a Parent’s Suicide, Helping Children Heal
  • Rothschild, Babette, (2006). Help for the Helper, 2006.  WW Norton and Company. NY and London.
  • Siegel, Daniel J., (1999). The Developing Mind, How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are.  Guilford Press, NY and London.

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, Licensed Professional Counselors and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists.

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.

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:

Complaints and Appeals:

Complaints against an Approved Provider should first be filed in writing with the Approved Provider directly for resolution. If satisfaction is not obtained, APT’s Continuing Education Coordinator should be contacted in writing to achieve a final resolution.

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: Teri V. Krull, LCSW, RPT-S . Teri is the Director of the Center for Positive Regard in Mesa, Arizona.

Phone: 480-917-7792.


Web Page: