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Digital Seminar

Attachment Centered Play Therapy: Repair Relational Trauma and Build Secure Attachment to Accelerate Family Treatment

When trauma, grief, and loss disrupts the family system, a child may feel unprotected, unloved, or disbelieved, causing relational injury and at times rupture the attachment bond. Children, not having the words to express how they feel, display the hurt in maladaptive ways -- aggression, rage, defiance, oppositional behaviors, shutting down, hiding away, or numbing. For the parent, shame is a factor. Shame that they can’t “parent away” the hurt and the misbehavior—that their love isn’t “good enough”.

How do we as therapists, help families begin repairing and rebuilding the lost connection/disruption?

Watch me in this interactive recording to discover an integrative therapeutic approach, Attachment Centered Play Therapy that includes the parents in the therapy process. The parent is integral in creating conditions of security and trustworthiness to address attachment wounds, trauma, grief and loss.

This developmentally appropriate, client-centered method brings a holistic, systemic approach to address:

  • Vulnerability to acknowledge the hurt, and the roadblocks
  • Challenging issues of shame, vulnerability, grief, and loss
  • Aggression and defiance and other maladaptive behavioral issues
  • Attachment centered and proactive strategies instead of reactivity or reactive responses
  • Repairing and strengthening the bonds of attachment between parent and child
  • Parents becoming a resource, as well as coregulator for their child
  • Rapport building with parents (this is a MUST in child and family therapy)

You’ll learn new and innovative attachment-centered play therapy techniques including hands on experiential activities, guided imagery, sand tray interventions, and expressive arts—practicing sand tray therapy, techniques assessing family relationships, bonds of attachment, and family dynamics.

We will explore difficult cases, ask questions, develop new assessment skills, and explore styles of attachment and how this plays out in therapeutic relationships with our clients.


Product Details
Average Rating:
Clair Mellenthin
6 Hours 16 Minutes
Audio and Video
08 Feb, 2019
Product Code:
Media Type:
Digital Seminar
Never expires.


Continuing Professional Development Certificates - PESI Australia, in collaboration with PESI in the USA, offers quality online continuing professional development events from the leaders in the field at a standard recognized by professional associations including psychology, social work, occupational therapy, alcohol and drug professionals, counselling and psychotherapy. On completion of the training, a Professional Development Certificate is issued after the individual has answered and submitted a quiz and course evaluation. This online program is worth 6.25 hours CPD.



Clair Mellenthin's Profile

Clair Mellenthin Related seminars and products: 4


Clair Mellenthin, LCSW, RPT-S, is a Registered Play Therapist Supervisor and is the past president of the Utah Association for Play Therapy. Throughout her career, she has focused on providing therapy to children, teens, and their families. Clair is the director of Child and Adolescent Services at Wasatch Family Therapy. She is a sought-after supervisor, training graduate students and interns in play therapy, and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Southern California MSW program. Clair is the author of Play Therapy: Engaging & Powerful Techniques for the Treatment of Childhood Disorders (PESI, 2018) and My Many Colors of Me Workbook. (Self-Published, 2013).  In addition to being an experienced play therapist and professor, she frequently presents professional play therapy and family therapy trainings and appears on local and national TV and radio as an expert on children and family issues.


Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Clair Mellenthin is the clinical director at Wasatch Family Therapy. She is the author of My Many Colors of Me Workbook; she maintains intellectual property rights and receives royalties. Ms. Mellenthin receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.
Non-financial: Clair Mellenthin is the president of the Utah Association for Play Therapy.

Additional Info

Program Information

Access for Self-Study (Non-Interactive)

Access never expires for this product.


  1. Evaluate how to introduce and maintain parent involvement in play therapy to promote a secure attachment.
  2. Demonstrate two attachment centered play therapy techniques to decrease aggression and defiance in children.
  3. Conceptualize generational attachment patterns and how these manifests in family-based play therapy.
  4. Analyze attachment theory as it applies to play therapy to provide integrated therapeutic treatment.
  5. Evaluate the four key concepts of attachment theory and how these concepts apply to attachment centered play therapy.
  6. Analyze various family systems through the lens of attachment theory to strengthen clinical assessment skills


Advancing Family Treatment with Play Therapy
  • 4 key concepts of attachment
  • Blending attachment theory with play therapy
  • Attachment patterns across the lifespan and impact on parent/child relationship
  • Risks and limitations
Invite Parents to Play
  • Engagement strategies to strengthen parent/child relationship
    • Roadblocks and triggers – parent/child/therapist
    • Shame and vulnerability – shame shields
    • Build rappaport and make room for parent in the playroom
      • Sand tray, genograms, play-based treatment planning
    • Establish boundaries and set expectations
    • Encourage participation
Attachment Centered Play Therapy Strategies
  • Treatment of relational trauma – Attachment, wounding and ruptures
    • Parent/child relationship cycle
    • Generational attachment patterns -
      • Catch me if you can
      • Butterfly fly away
      • Two hands
      • Empowerment collage

Case Studies of Abuse; Healing Attachment Wounds

Challenging Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

  • Defiance, ODD, moodiness, anger, aggressiveness and school refusal
  • Attachment injuries at root of undesirable behavior
  • Prescriptive play therapy interventions
  • Self-regulation, co-regulation
  • calm down jars, guided imagery

Case Studies of Extreme Defiance and School Refusal

Strategies to Promote Positive Attachment-Based Parenting

  • Maximize parent involvement to rebuild trust, repair injuries
  • Proactive vs reactive parenting
  • Get parent buy in
Case Study of Proactive vs Reactive Parenting

Target Audience

  • Play Therapists
  • Psychologists Counselors
  • Social Workers
  • Educators
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Occupational Therapy Assistants
  • Speech-Language Pathologists
  • Marriage and Family Therapists



Overall:      4.7

Total Reviews: 627


Sally H - BURLINGTON, Vermont

"This content will be essential in working with children in my school next year. "

Julie M - Centreville, Virginia

"She was an engaging presenter"

Anne B - CLARKSVILLE, Tennessee

"This training was incredible. I learned so much that will help my clients. "

Amy R - FORT WORTH, Texas

"Very grateful to Ms. Mellenthin for sharing her expertise and her play therapy book. Thank you!!! "

Michael S - ITASCA, Texas

"The content and material was organized very well, no need for me to have any questions at this time. "

Denis M - BALTIMORE, Maryland

"Clair Mellenthin was one of the best presenters that I have experienced in taking PESI courses!"

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