Post-Traumatic Play: What Clinicians Should Know

Program Goals

This two-day workshop will take an in-depth look at a unique form of play that children employ after enduring traumatic experiences. We will discuss the special characteristics of post-traumatic play as well as learn the differences between toxic and dynamic post-trauma play. The question of how and when to intervene in toxic play will be highlighted. Participants will have ample opportunities to identify post-traumatic play in children's clinical work and will become adept at understanding the underlying intent of this play and the importance of clinical witnessing.

Specifically, this program will:

  • Define post-traumatic play therapy;
  • Discuss unique characteristics of this play;
  • Describe the positive intent of post-trauma play;
  • Differentiate between dynamic and toxic post-trauma play;
  • Describe post-traumatic behavior in children and youth and how it may suggest unresolved trauma;
  • Provide guidelines for the active observation and documentation of post-trauma play;
  • Offer specific ways of intervening in toxic post-trauma play;
  • Offer opportunities for consultation of specific clinical questions utilizing verbal, audio, or video case presentations.

Course Objectives

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

  • Define post-traumatic play;
  • List three unique characteristics of post-trauma play;
  • Define the difference between dynamic and toxic post trauma play;
  • List two ways of documenting post-trauma play;
  • List two ways to intervene in toxic post-traumatic play;
  • List two benefits of post-traumatic play;
  • Discuss two ways to involve the family in post-traumatic play therapy.

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 (six hours each day).

Day One

9:00 – 9:30 Introductions and needs assessment: Participant’s “wish list”
9:30 - 10:45 Didactic information will be provided on the definition of post-traumatic play and unique characteristics
10:45 - 11:00 Break
11:00 - 12:00 Review of videotape illustrating post-trauma play
12:00 - 1:00 LUNCH
1:00 - 2:30 Case discussion of clinical case presentation with emphasis on how to assess post-trauma play;
Experiential exercise
2:30 - 2:45 BREAK
2:45 - 5:00 Clinical case discussion and questions and answers

Day Two

9:00 – 10:30 Inviting Post-Trauma play in hesitant children
10:30 - 10:45 BREAK
10:45 - 12:00 Specific interventions with toxic post-trauma play
12:00 - 1:00 LUNCH
1:00 - 2:30 Clinical case illustration and case discussion
2:30 - 2:45 BREAK
2:45 - 5:00 Working with post-traumatic play with a systemic point of view

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 two- day class.

Continuing Education Credits: Starbright Training Institute is an Approved Provider with the Association for Play Therapy (Provider #96-029) and is approved to provide Continuing Education Credits related to play therapy. STI maintains responsibility for the program. Starbright Training Institute has contracted with Commonwealth Educational Seminars ( to provide CE credits in the professional categories of Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology, and Professional Counseling. You will be advised if this specific workshop has been approved by Commonwealth and for which professions. Participants may be tallied ahead about their interest in CE cerdits.

Instructor Contact Information

Name: Eliana Gil, Ph.D., RPT-S, ATR
Phone: 703-980-2886