Friday, December 10, 2021 from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM EST
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This is an online event. 



Quinn Smelser 
MD/DC Association for Play Therapy 


MD/DC APT Virtual Live Workshop: Helping Kids and Play Therapists Cope and Recover from a Pandemic World

Please join the MD/DC Association for Play Therapy for our Winter 2021 6-Hour Virtual Live Workshop on Friday, December 10, 2021 from 9am to 4:30pm. Due to COVID-19 health concerns, this one-time online event has been approved by APT and the National Association of Social Workers (Approval # 886773312-3500) for 6 continuing education contact hours.

Continuing Education: 

There will be 6 CEs available upon receiving post-test and course evaluation. This program is pending approval from NASW. 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: 

 $105 (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. 

Helping Kids and Play Therapists Cope and Recover from a Pandemic World

Presented by: Kristie Opiola, PhD, LCMHC, RPT

Kristie Opiola, Ph. D., LPC (Texas), RPT is an assistant professor in the Department of Counseling at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She began her professional career as a certified child life specialist working with acutely and terminally ill children in hospital settings for 13 years. She switched careers and is currently teaching play therapy courses at UNC Charlotte. Her areas of teaching interest include play therapy, filial therapy, skill development, expressive arts. Research interests include play therapy and filial therapy with children who have experienced a variety of traumas (medical, relationship, adoption), community based play therapy interventions, and counselor-in-training skill development. Kristie is active in the Association for Play Therapy and Association of Humanistic Counseling.


The COVID-19 pandemic created many challenges for children, families, and mental health professionals around the world as they experienced increased stress, fear, and uncertainty. Such events align with adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), which may also be referred to "adverse COVID-19 experiences." The deaths, illness, economic and housing instability, and loss of the daily school routine have been especially hard for many, providing the destabilizing trigger for a wide range of ACEs to arise in kids, teens, parents, and professionals everywhere. Several studies have documented the damaging effects of psychological stress due to negative events in children, such as a pandemic. Anxiety, depression, lethargy, impaired social interaction, and reduced appetite are commonly reported manifestations. Children were forced to stay home for long periods due to enforced isolation and school closure, resulting in limited connection with classmates and reduced physical activity. Mental health professionals, such as play therapists, also pivoted quickly and provided services on line to continue therapeutic services. While the quick pivot to providing services virtually was good for many kids in need, it also exposed a major health disparity: that access to technology is not equitable across all segments of the population. That fact has exacerbated health disparities. Even with the protection of the COVID-19 vaccines for older children, pandemic-related stress and traumas may have lasting effects on children and teens. Researchers propose that society will likely be grappling with the after-effects of COVID for decades to come.

As the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, those working with children are seeing the effects the pandemic had on children’s lifestyle. The impact of the changes in children’s routines, parental stress and demands, and financial struggles has increased mental health needs.  It is important for play therapists to have a keen ear and watch/ listen for signs that children, teens, and parents are dysregulated, stressed, fearful, and generally from the impact of the pandemic.  Struggling.  Play therapist must also have a strong understanding of the impact of COVID 19 for this child/ family so they can respond with sensitivity. Additionally, as play therapists, we need to acknowledge how COVID impacted us personally and professionally, and how this may impact client care. 

This workshop will explore how COVID impacts are presenting in play therapy clinical settings and how play therapists are responding.  We will explore a variety of humanistic treatment considerations necessary for children, teens, and parents. Specifically, we will focus on building safety and security in the play space/ therapeutic relationship, responding in developmentally sensitive manner, and addressing affective-behavioral dysregulation with children and parents.  Lastly, we will explore the importance of therapist’s self-awareness and self-care and how in a time of stress, we need to prioritize ourself.  


Participants will be able to:

1. Recognize one emotional, behavioral, and social reactions of COVID-19 on diverse children and teens.

2. Discuss the impact of COVID-19 on parents and how it may hinder the therapeutic alliance between parent and child/ family and therapist. 

3. Examine trauma responses potentially brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic

4. Describe two ways play therapy techniques can alleviate trauma symptomology, such as those experienced during the pandemic.

5. Describe three key components of self-care for play therapist to prevent compassion fatigue and/or burn-out during the pandemic.

6. Identify three-four play therapy interventions which can be used to promote resilience and regulation.