San Diego, CA
National University Academi...
Neurobiology and Brain Basics for Play Therapists
Sat, August 25, 2018
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Workshop Description: 

In this workshop play therapists will come to understand the strengths of the brain and how deeply attachment, trauma, and brain development are intertwined.  This in turn will help play therapists in their play therapy assessment, formulation, and treatment. Participants will be exposed to the literature on the neurobiology behind play which will provide a framework for advocating for, and supporting their play therapy practice with parents and other professionals.

With Distinguished Presenter:

Kim Vander Dussen, Psy.D., RPT-S

Kim Vander Dussen, Psy. D., RPT-S is a Professor of Clinical Psychology at the American School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University Southern California.  She is a Past President of the California Branch of the Association for Play Therapy.  She currently serves as a committee member for various committees for the Association for Play Therapy.  Dr. Vander Dussen is a licensed psychologist and registered play therapist and supervisor.  She has certificates in Play Therapy and Infant and Toddler Mental Health.  Dr. Vander Dussen also serves on the faculty of UCSD’s Play Therapy Certificate Program.  She is in private practice and specializes in the treatment of trauma, attachment, and children with developmental disabilities.  Dr. Vander Dussen is a frequent presenter at regional and national conferences and workshops. 

  • 8:30am–9:00am          Registration

  • 9:00am–10:00am        Structure of the brain & basic principles of brain development.

  • 10:00am-10:45am     Sequence of brain development, synaptogenesis, pruning, and summary of what we’ve learned about brain development

  • 10:45am-11:00am        BREAK

  • 11:00am–12:00pm       Impact of stress on the developing brain

  • 12:00pm–1:00pm         LUNCH

  • 1:00pm–2:45pm        The stress response system , the dissociative continuum, the hyper-arousal continuum. The role of hormones and impact of trauma and stress on these brain systems.

  • 2:45pm–3:00pm           BREAK

  • 3:00pm–4:15pm           The neurobiology of play 

  • 4:15pm-4:30pm            Questions & Answers

Learning Objectives

After the workshop participants will be able to:

  1.  Identify at least 6 core strengths of the brain as identified by Dr. Bruce Perry and other researchers.
  2. Describe the stress response system and how this system operates in traumatized children in play therapy.
  3. Identify and describe how traumatized children in play therapy move across the dissociative continuum. 
  4. Discuss the influence of environmental and contextual factors on brain development and psychopathology for children in play therapy.
  5. Describe the importance of integrating brain based, and sensory motor play activities into play therapy practice.
  6. Discuss at least 3 sensory based play strategies that support treatment goals for children in play therapy.

Conference Information

Instructional Level: Intermediate
Audience Pre-Requisites: Those attending should have a basic knowledge of the fundamental principles of play therapy, play therapy theory, play therapy applications, child psychopathology and child development.

Who Should Attend:
Social Workers, Marriage, Family & Child Therapists, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, School Counselors, Psychologists, Students, and Associates.
Continuing Education:

This workshop meets the qualifications for 6 hours of continuing education credit for Psychologists, MFTs & LCSWs  and LPCC's.  The California Association for Play Therapy (CALAPT) is approved by the Association for Play Therapy to offer continuing education specific to play therapy (APT Approved Provider # 00-094). The California Association for Play Therapy is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Psychologists may receive 6 hours of continuing education credit for this workshop.The California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) now recognizes APA continuing education credit for license renewal for LCSWs, MFTs and LPCCs The California Association for Play Therapy maintains responsibility for this program and its contents.  NO CREDIT FOR PARTIAL ATTENDANCE.
Cancellations and Refunds:
Requests for refunds must be made in writing to the CALAPT, P.O. Box  12404, Newport Beach, CA 92658 or by e-mail:  Requests must be postmarked two weeks prior to workshop date in order to receive refund. There is a $25.00 administrative fee for refunds. There are no price breaks for partial attendance.

For questions regarding CALAPT trainings and events, please contact us at: or call (888)311-1690.

For APT Membership Information:  Contact or

The opinions expressed by presenters at the CALAPT events do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the CALAPT Board of Directors or its membership. CALAPT reserves the right to make changes to the conference schedule, speakers and presentation, if this becomes necessary.
If you have a disability and need accommodations per ADA/504, please provide notification 2 weeks prior to workshop date


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