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Who’s Afraid of Children in Family Therapy?: How Therapists Can Help
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Unlike teens, young children can’t readily talk about feelings, don’t sit in one place, and often can’t follow rules and directions, even when you’re playing a game. So how can you incorporate these crucial family members into your sessions in a way that’s both manageable and productive? This workshop will demonstrate how to apply the principles of Theraplay, a model based on affective neuroscience and attachment theory, to increase a sense of caring and trust between family members. 

Dafna Lender, LCSW

Dafna Lender, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker who has worked in the field of child welfare and child mental health for 20+ years. Dafna serves as the program director at The Theraplay Institute in Evanston, IL and is certified as a practitioner, supervisor and trainer in both Theraplay and Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP). Dafna trains psychotherapists internationally in these methods and trains in three languages.

Dafna’s focus is children’s development of a secure attachment with their caregivers while resolving issues in their traumatic history. Early in her career, Dafna worked in treatment foster care and witnessed child after child “fail” out of foster placements due to difficult behavior. Children were disruptive, unsettled and unhappy, and their caregivers felt defeated. Dafna’s sense of discouragement went way after taking the Theraplay training and learning direct, concrete ideas and interactions that she could apply in home with her treatment families to promote healthier, stable relationships. Dafna has successfully treated children with a variety of backgrounds, including children raised in orphanages, with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, exposed to domestic violence and community violence and children of parents with chronic mental illness.

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Dafna Lender has an employment relationship with The Theraplay Institute. She receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.
Non-financial: Dafna Lender has no relevant non-financial relationship to disclose.

Phyllis Booth, MA

Phyllis Booth, Clinical Director Emerita of The Theraplay Institute in Chicago. Along with Ann Jernberg , she created the Theraplay method for helping children and families with attachment and relationship problems. Primary author 3rd edition of Theraplay: Helping Parents and Children Build Better Relationships Through Attachment-Based Play (Jossey-Bass, 2010).


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