Advancing the Therapeutic Powers of Play

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NEAPT 2023 Annual Conference

  • 5 May 2023
  • 2:00 PM
  • 6 May 2023
  • 4:30 PM
  • Holiday Inn-Portland by the Bay, 88 Spring Street, Portland, ME 04101


  • Early Registration for Friday Only - Choice of Session #1, #2 or #3
  • Early Registration for Friday - Choice of Session #1, #2 or #3 - and Saturday - Choice of Afternoon Session #1, #2, or #3
  • Early Registration for Saturday Only with Choice of Afternoon Session - #1, #2, or #3
  • Early Registration for Friday Only - Choice of Session #1, #2 or #3
  • Early Registration for Friday - Choice of Session #1, #2 or #3 - and Saturday - Choice of Afternoon Session #1, #2, or #3
  • Early Registration for Saturday Only - Choice of Afternoon Session - #1, #2, or #3
  • Saturday Only. Each table will be 6 feet in length and draped. Exhibitors will provide their own identification signs showing their company name, logo, etc. No cash registers, extension cords, or other accouterments will be provided. Includes continental breakfast and lunch on Saturday.
  • Saturday Only. Each table will be 6 feet in length and draped. Exhibitors will provide their own identification signs showing their company name, logo, etc. No cash registers, extension cords, or other accouterments will be provided.
  • Saturday Breakfast Buffet
    Saturday Lunch

    No refunds. Cannot be purchased onsite.
  • Friday Choice of Session - #1, #2, or #3 and Saturday - Choice of Afternoon Session - #1, #2, or #3
  • Early Registration for Friday - Choice of Session #1, #2 or #3. Student must present valid school ID or proof of enrollment in 12+ credit hours for the semester
  • Friday Choice of Session #1, #2 or #3 and Saturday Session plus Choice of Afternoon Session #1, #2 or #3. Student must present valid school ID or proof of enrollment in 12+ credit hours for the semester
  • Early Registration Saturday with Choice of Afternoon Session -#1, #2 or #3. Student must present valid school ID or proof of enrollment in 12+ credit hours for the semester

Registration is closed


NEAPT 2023 Annual Conference

May 5-6, 2023 | Holiday Inn-Portland by the Bay

Friday, May 5th | 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. - Choose One Session

Session 1: Helping Play Therapy Supervisees Navigate Ethical Dilemmas in Supervision - Athena Drewes, PsyD, Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor

Understanding the ethical and legal obligations in play therapy consultation and supervision can be complicated due to the various layers of obligations and current telehealth practice. This didactic and experiential workshop will focus on what an ethical dilemma is and how to address the various types that may be encountered by a play therapy supervisee and which could put the registered play therapist supervisor at legal risk. Terms will be defined, a comparison of remedial vs. positive ethics made, how to utilize ethical decision making,  what are the supervisor responsibilities and telehealth practice issues will be addressed. Dilemmas will focus on such situations as telehealth treatment, sexualized behaviors in the playroom, impulsive-aggressive children, cultural and religious differences with parents, counter-transference issues among others. Advanced| Play Therapy Special Topics | Qualifies for Supervisor and Ethics hours.

Participants will be able to…

    1.  Define ethical dilemmas, state at least 2 examples, and explain how they may manifest within a play therapy environment

    2..  Explain the use of ethical decision making to assist supervisees with  difficult play therapy cases

    3.  Examine at least 3 ethical dilemmas encountered in play therapy and employ ethical decision making to handle each one

    Session 2:  Suicidality in Play Therapy Practice – Sitting with Teens as They Share Their Stories Stephen MacHattie, LCSW

    In 2020 the CDC reported that suicide was the third leading cause of death for young people aged 15 to 24. Further, research suggests that as many as 20% of teens have thought about suicide. This presentation discusses the barriers teens struggling with suicidal ideation face when considering sharing their thoughts. Deterrents to telling include possible loss of autonomy and dignity, and the negative cognitions regarding mental illness and suicidal ideation. The workshop will discuss the importance of hearing, holding, and containing the stories teens share in regard to mental illness and suicidal ideation. Stories can be shared both verbally and nonverbally, so play therapists in particular must be well-versed in verbal and nonverbal presentations and responses. Play-based techniques for expressing and containing stories will be shared, as well as play-based ways in which therapists can ground themselves during the telling and afterwards. Presenters will also discuss ways in which suicide can become a coping skill for teens and how play therapists might begin re-storying coping strategies with teenage clients through play, talk, and a combination of the two. Intermediate| Play Therapy Skills & Methods and Play Therapy Special Topics

    Participants will be able to…

    1.  Describe at least 3 play-based interventions to help normalize clients’ feelings regarding suicidal ideation and pausing urges during problem solving

    2.  Describe at least 2 play therapy strategies for containing stories about suicidal ideation

    3.  Describe at least 2 strategies to manage transference and countertransference during the sharing of suicidal ideation during a play therapy session

      Session 3. A Little, Medium, Big, and Biggest: Family play therapy for young children  Denise Galford-Koeppel, LMHC, Registered Play Therapist

      Young children develop in the context of relationship. Infants are born with an immature brain that requires nurturing from a mature brain for the development of affect, behavior, and eventually self-regulation in the child. This occurs following many instances of co-regulation by an adult. The social communication system activated when a child plays with another person involves the brain structures and the vagus nerve (Porges, 2009). Understanding brain science, the role of social interaction between two brains becomes clear. Co-regulation through mutual and attuned interactions results in adaptation by the child that can be protective during stress. Children under age 7 are still learning the skills of social interaction and self-control and require attuned activities with adults to build such skills.

      Several evidence-based practices promote positive social interactions that support the child’s development of social and emotional skills including imitation, expression, and modulation. Many kids did not get enough bottom up practice with regulation to grow the skills to manage challenges. This workshop will provide foundational skills on the theorists who have inspired using play therapy to support adult-child interactions. Using the principles of Child-Centered Play Therapy, Child-Parent Relationship Therapy, and Developmental Individual-Differences & Relationship-based Model (DIR), participants will experience the power of play interactions to teach children the skills of modulation. Foundational | Play Therapy Skills & Methods

      Participants will be able to…

      1.  Explain three ways in which social interactions promote healthy development of emotional regulation

      2.  Identify at least 2  play therapy strategies that promote therapeutic interactions in the context of adult-child interactions, using drama, music, and art

      3.  Identify at least 2  play therapy strategies that promote healthy and therapeutic interactions in the context of family therapy children and in peer groups using drama, music and art activities

          Saturday, May 6th | Keynote Session - 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

          Helping to Heal Broken Attachments Due to Complex Trauma Through Integrative Play Therapy  Athena Drewes, PsyD, Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor

          Neglect, abuse, trauma, COVID-19 isolation results in loss of connection and attunement and creates attachment difficulties. Our clients may show distorted perceptions and interpretation of themselves, others and the world around them. Consequently, readiness for learning and taking advantage of education is undermined and emotional, behavioral and social difficulties interfere with learning and social functioning. Our clients are at risk for under-achieving, exclusion and possible further mental health difficulties, and future poor relationships. Using an integrative theoretical approach through didactic and experiential components, participants will be able to help clients with loss of connection and attachment due to a variety of sources and immediately apply play-based activities in their practice. Intermediate | Play Therapy Special Topics

          Participants will be able to…

            1.  Identify the impact of impoverished attachment and adverse childhood experiences during early childhood

            2.  Identify 3  ways to help address emotional and academic issues manifested due to poor attachment

            3.  Describe 3 play-based activities to help address loss and anger

            Saturday, May 6th | 1:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. - Choose One Session

            Session 1: Intermediate Child-Centered Play Therapy Theory and Skills Joshua Edwards, PhD, LPC, Registered Play Therapist

            The child-centered play therapist plays a unique role in children’s lives. In this training, attendees will learn how to foster these unique aspects within themselves to promote a strong therapist-child relationship. We will discuss intermediate theory and skills in child-centered play therapy. Experiential practice will focus on using skills with children who display aggression. Intermediate| Play Therapy Skills & Methods

            Participants will be able to…

            1.  Articulate  intermediate theoretical underpinnings of Child-Centered Play Therapy

            2.  Explain  the unique role of the play therapist in children’s lives

            3.  Describe the use of  child-centered play therapy skills: Choice-giving and limit setting

                Session 2:  Telehealth and Play Therapy: A Practical Guide  Katherine Thomas, LMHC

                This workshop with provide clinicians with a “cheat sheet” resource guide of over 500 telehealth activities to use with young children and their caregivers. Participants will be provided with the tools to navigate the telehealth resources and utilize them confidently while providing online play therapy.  Many clinicians report anxiety over providing telehealth treatment, especially teleplay, to young children and their caregivers. Research supports the efficacy of play therapy via telehealth, but providers often report that they don’t have to tools to implement the treatment. This workshop will demystify the process of how to play on the screen and increase an awareness of teleplay as a better option for some clients, not just a fall back during a crisis.  Using illustrations from successful telehealth sessions, this workshop will support clinicians in identifying which clients will benefit most from telehealth. There are children and families that find it easier to use teleplay to process trauma than face-to-face sessions. This workshop will explore how young children use the mode of telehealth to enhance their relationship with the clinician. Children often use the camera to manipulate the perspective of the therapist, which a new facet of play therapy. Teleplay can make a clinician feel unmoored while the child client feels empowered. This dichotomy will be explored, and participants will learn how to harness the power of that dynamic for the benefit of their client. Participants will learn not just how to use teleplay but how to love it. Foundational | Play Therapy Special Topics

                Participants will be able to…

                  1.  Describe the use of the telehealth cheat sheet to provide teleplay

                  2.  Identify ways to transform in-person activities to teleplay

                  3.  Identify strategies for accurate assessment of clients that are more appropriate for teleplay than in person sessions

                    Session 3. Whole Body Play: Incorporating the suspension swing and somatic tools into play therapy  Jayne Dean, LMFT, LADC, Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor

                    Momentum is building for the inclusion of sensory motor and somatic approaches for treating affect and behavioral dysregulation in individuals of all ages. Neuroscience suggests that it is advantageous to include interventions into play therapy that target somatic distress. We are discovering that we can strengthen psychological and emotional well-being by intervening at the lower levels of the brain where the disruption occurs. Somatic regulation is more effectively achieved if we involve the whole body of the child through freedom of movement and a variety of somatic tools. 

                    The sensory swing is one of many sensory tools that facilitate whole body play with the goal of better nervous system regulation. Other whole body somatic tools include physioballs, weighted blankets, mini trampolines, hula hoops, tunnels, mats, and body socks. When children are in high states of distress (hyperarousal) or shut down (hypoarousal), language-based approaches are often less effective in helping them return to a state of regulation. As arousal regulation improves, capacities for self-expression, affect awareness and identification, and executive function become more accessible allowing a greater range of treatment options/interventions.

                    In this workshop, through didactic and experiential methods, participants will learn how to incorporate somatic tools and somatic interventions into play therapy with an emphasis on working with the sensory swing. Play therapists of all orientations will discover that they can easily incorporate somatic tools into the playroom. Intermediate | Play Therapy Skills & Methods

                    Participants will be able to…

                    1.  Define a somatic tool explain how  somatic tools promote nervous system regulation in play therapy

                    2.  Explain the rationale for incorporating somatic tools into play therapy

                    3.  List two things a play therapist can do to develop the capacity to work more directly with sensations and movements in play therapy

                        For CE, participants will need to download the form (click here), complete and mail to ICE with payment of $30.

                        SEATING IS LIMITED. REGISTER EARLY!

                        CONFERENCE SCHEDULE:

                        Friday, May 5, 2023

                        1:00 p.m. Registration

                        2:00 p.m. Sessions Begin (Choice of #1, #2, or #3)

                        5:00 p.m. On the Town 

                        7:30 p.m. Networking & Fun in the Lounge

                        Saturday, May 6, 2023

                        7:00 a.m. Registration, Breakfast and Coffee

                        8:45 a.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks

                        9:00 a.m. Session Begins

                        12:00 p.m. Lunch, Annual Meeting

                        1:30 p.m. Sessions Begin (Choice of #1, #2, or #3)

                        4:30 p.m. Conference Concludes

                        HANDOUTS: In an effort to reduce paper waste and be more “green,” our policy is to email all handouts. Please include a valid email address with your registration to receive the handouts.

                        PARKING: Parking on site is $15 per night or $5 per day for the conference. 

                        HEALTH AND SAFETY: At NEAPT, your safety is a priority. As NEAPT moves forward with producing live meetings and conferences, we will continue to monitor the continually evolving guidance released by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as all federal, state, and local government mandates, to provide an environment that is as safe as possible for all event participants. By participating in person, I agree to follow the meeting’s health and safety policiesAttendees of NEAPT events voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to Covid-19 and its variants, and are advised to undertake precautions deemed necessary, to include those recommended by the CDC and the State of Maine. NEAPT will provide hand sanitizers and will allow for social distancing. Let us know if you need something to make you feel more comfortable.

                        PHOTO RELEASE: By registering for this conference, you are giving permission for NEAPT to use any photographs that are taken at the event containing your likeness for as long as NEAPT deems appropriate and desirable. Photographs may be used on the NEAPT website, social media pages, and/or newsletter for any purpose. By completing the registration, you are also consenting to waive any rights to the photographs indefinitely. If you do not wish to have your photo used, it is your responsibility to notify registration of your request to be omitted.

                        CANCELLATION POLICY: All cancellations must be requested in writing and received no later than April 3, 2023. Cancellations are subject to $35 processing fee. No refunds after April 4, 2023. Substitutions (allowing another person to attend in your place) may be made in writing for no additional cost. No refunds are given due to inclement weather.  

                        HOTEL INFORMATION: Holiday Inn-Portland by the Bay, 88 Spring Street, Portland, ME, 04101. Attendees are responsible to make hotel reservations. The hotel number is 207.775.2311, code PLY. Please mention NEAPT Conference when making reservations. Online booking link may be accessed here. Holiday Inn-Portland by the Bay website may be accessed here. 

                        New England Association for Play Therapy: NEAPT is a professional organization striving to advance the theory and practice of play therapy through activities such as conferences, seminars, and networking in order to serve the mental health needs of New England children, families, schools and communities. For more information on the Conference visit our website at

                        EXHIBITS: Exhibitors will be welcome to provide books and therapeutic materials for sale Friday & Saturday. 

                        CONTINUING EDUCATION: This program is co-sponsored, by the New England  Association for Play Therapy and The Institute for Continuing Education.  The Conference offers a total of  9.00 contact hours (3.00 hrs. for  May 5, 2023; 6.00 hrs. for May 6, 2023).  

                        Continuing education credit is awarded on a daily basis, with full attendance required for the days attended. The CE processing fee is $30.00, to be paid by participants who wish to submit application for CE credit for their participation in the program.  Application forms and other required CE materials will be available onsite for submission to The Institute for Continuing Education. If you have questions regarding the program,  continuing education  learning objectives, faculty, contact The Institute at: 800-557-1950 / email:

                        NOTE: To receive continuing education credit, applicants must complete all CE materials, sign in/out at designated locations, and submit an evaluation form for the sessions attended. 

                        NOTE: It is the responsibility of the attendee to determine if CE credit offered by The Institute for Continuing Education meets the regulations of their state licensing/certification board, including the “ethics” workshop scheduled for May 5, 2023.

                        NOTE: The program workshops are not academic and may not be used toward fulfillment of a degree.

                        Psychology: Not offered for this training.

                        Counseling: For counselors seeking CE credit, The Institute for Continuing Education will submit a co-sponsorship application to NBCC for this program.

                        New York: The Institute for Continuing Education is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors.  Provider MHC-0016.

                        Social Work: Application for social work continuing education credit has been submitted.  This website will be updated regarding approval.  

                        New York: The Institute for Continuing Education 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, Provider SW-0025.

                        New JerseyThis program will NOT  be submitted for pre-approval for New Jersey social workers.

                        Marriage/Family TherapyThe Institute for Continuing Education is a recognized provider of continuing education by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for MFT, Provider MFT-0012. 

                        Massachusetts: This program has not been submitted for pre-approval for MA MFTs. 

                        Play Therapy: The Institute for Continuing Education is approved by The Association for Play Therapy to sponsor continuing education specific to play therapy.  The Institute maintains responsibility for the program.  APT Provider 98-040. 

                        Non-U.S. Professionals: The Institute for Continuing Education holds no CE provider status with Canadian or other Non-U.S. licensing/certification boards.  It is your responsibility to check the regulations of your licensing/certification board to determine CE requirements for training activities.

                        Non-Credit Events: Breakfast, lunch, reception events, committee/business meetings, networking sessions

                        Skills Level: Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced.  Attendees are urged to review the session descriptions to determine appropriateness for professional and personal needs.

                        Instructional Methodology:  May include lecture, demonstration, audio/visual, experiential practice of techniques, case examples, large and small group discussion.

                        ADA/Section 504: If you have special needs, please contact Rita Vatcher at

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                        New England Association for Play Therapy is a 501(c)6 nonprofit organization. 

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