Friday, April 23, 2021 from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM EDT
Add to Calendar 


This is an online event. 


Quinn Smelser 
MD/DC Association for Play Therapy 

MD/DC APT Virtual Live Workshop: Healing Medical Trauma in Play Therapy

Please join the MD/DC Association for Play Therapy for our Spring 2021 6-Hour Virtual Live Workshop on Friday, April 23, 2021 from 11am to 6pm. Due to COVID-19 health concerns, this one-time online event has been approved by APT for 6 CONTACT CE Hours and is approved by the National Association of Social Workers for 6 CE Hours (Approval # 886773312-1914).

Continuing Education: 

There will be 6 CEs available upon receiving post-test and course evaluation. This program is approved by the National Association for Social Workers. The Maryland/DC Association for Play Therapy is an APT Approved Provider 17-522 and maintains responsibility for the program.


Workshop fees with CE Cost included: 


*Current MD/DC APT members will receive a special 5% discount code via email.  

Cancellation Policy: 

Due to the limited amount of registrants allowed, once registered and paid, there will be no refunds granted.  


10:45am  Registration

11am-1pm  Synchronous webinar

1pm-1:30pm Lunch

1:30pm-3:30pm Synchronous webinar

3:30pm-3:45pm Break

3:45pm-6pm Synchronous webinar

Healing Medical Trauma in Play Therapy

Presented by: Lisa Dion, MA, LPC, RPT-S 


Lisa Dion, LPC, RPT-S, is an international teacher, creator of Synergetic Play Therapy, founder and President of the Synergetic Play Therapy Institute, and host of the Lessons from the Playroom podcast.  She is the author of Aggression in Play Therapy:  A Neurobiological Approach for Integrating Intensity and is the 2015 recipient of the Association for Play Therapy’s Professional Education and Training Award of Excellence.


Medical trauma is a prevalent experience for many children who have undergone medical procedures or experienced chronic and acute conditions, yet it is often not included in discussions about trauma.  According to the National Child Trauma Stress Network, up to 80% of children who undergo medical procedures experience some form of traumatic stress and 20-30% of parents and 15% of children experience chronic stress from medical procedures.  With this finding, it is critical for play therapists to understand what medical trauma is and ultimately how to use play therapy and the therapeutic powers of play to help children and their families integrate their medical experiences.  

Without knowing what medical trauma is and how the symptoms manifest, play therapists can inadvertently miss the signs that the child has experienced a medical trauma or jump to conclusions regarding the child’s behaviors and play.  In this 6-hour workshop, play therapists will explore medical trauma from the perspective of neuroscience and interpersonal neurobiology while drawing from Gestalt Play Therapy, Synergetic Play Therapy and Nature Based Play principles.  Using creative play-based ways to support children and their family’s healing process, participants will learn how to create emotional and relational safety for trauma integration.  They will learn what it means to become a child’s external regulator to help integrate the activation in a child’s nervous system while safely allowing the child to access the stored trauma in their body from the medical trauma.  Participants will also explore the symptoms often associated with medical trauma as the symptoms can often be confused with sexual or sensory trauma.  Whether the child has experienced a single incident trauma or is struggling with a chronic illness, participants will learn what it really takes to integrate their experiences.  As children are not the only ones affected by medical trauma, care for their caregivers will also be addressed, as well as an exploration of creative play-based ways to help the entire family system heal.  

In addition to learning about medical trauma and its symptoms, this workshop will also explore the difference between the role of a play therapist and the role of a Child Life Specialist in a medical setting allowing play therapists a greater knowledge in knowing how and when to collaborate with the medical team if a child is going to be experiencing a medical procedure or if the child is in on-going medical care. 


1. Explain some of the similarities and differences between the role of a play therapist and the role of a child life specialist in a medical setting.

2. Describe the connection between a child’s nervous system activation and the symptoms displayed in and out of the play room.

3. List at least 4 creative play interventions to help children heal from medical trauma.

4. Describe what it means to become a child’s external regulator in a play therapy session for trauma integration.

5. List the 4 threats that need to be addressed for a child to feel safe in a play therapy session allowing for trauma integration.

6. Describe how non-directive play therapy can be used in this population.