Expressive Arts in Play Therapy with Adolescents

This Version of the Course does not have CEs Available

Cathi Spooner | Trainer

Using expressive arts with a neuroscience and attachment lens to help your adolescent clients engage more deeply in the change process. 

Expressive Arts in Play Therapy with Adolescents

This Version of the Course does not have CEs Available

Cathi Spooner | Trainer

Using expressive arts with a neuroscience and attachment lens to help your adolescent clients engage more deeply in the change process. 

What You'll Get From This Course 

Course Description:

Expressive arts provides a powerful tool for your adolescent clients in the play therapy process to express themselves, identify cognitive distortions and shame, explore self-concept and their relationships, and develop resiliency through the creative process. The key to effective change for your client is ensuring that you target the actual "root(s)" underlying the problem.  This course uses a neuroscience and attachment lens in play therapy to give you a  framework to recognize what factors are contributing to your client's mental health challenges.  You'll use this "lens" to explore and address these core issues underlying many mental health challenges for adolescents.  Understanding the role of attachment and the neuroscience underlying the problem provides you with a powerful tool to help your young clients make lasting change in their lives.

You'll learn a variety of expressive arts activities using mindfulness, art, poetry, and music to explore these keys areas with your young clients.  These activities will help your clients explore painful emotions and experiences using expressive arts to help them engage in the change process more deeply.  Change can be painful and overwhelming for adolescents and expressive arts can help your client access those painful areas of their lives, core beliefs, and emotions to help them make effective changes.  You'll learn how to engage the therapeutic powers of play such as self-expression to support their social-emotional growth, access their unconscious areas supporting emotional pain, resiliency, social competence, and so much more.  

You'll learn a neuroscience and attachment-informed framework to help you ground your expressive arts strategies in theory and application in the play therapy process. Having a good "roadmap" is essential to ensure you establish and maintain strong therapeutic rapport since that's the key to helping your client use your support to navigate the painful change process as well as a focus on your clinical decision-making process to guide your use of expressive arts interventions.

This version of the course does NOT provide CEs. If you're interested in obtaining CEs for non-contact distance learning, please go to the CE version for this course.

What you will learn:

1) Define the concept of mentalization and its relationship with attachment and emotion regulation in play therapy

2) Learn the relationship between attachment, mentalization, and our conceptualization of self, others, and relationships in play therapy for adolescents

3) Explain the mind-body connection for emotion regulation in play therapy

4) Identify at least three therapeutic powers of play to use with expressive modalities

5) Explain the archetypes and shadow and light attributes of attachment and how to use them to integrate expressive arts activities in the play therapy process

6) Describe the elements of the Be 5 Framework to apply clinical decision-making for integrating expressive arts in play therapy and establish a strong therapeutic relationship to facilitate change

7) Demonstrate at least four expressive arts activities to use with adolescents in the play therapy process to explore self-concept, relationships, regulate emotions, develop coping skills, and increase resiliency


To help you apply the information learned in the training, there is a Community Group (like a Facebook Group) to share ideas, ask questions, and get feedback that's available 24/7.

There are additional Live Zoom Calls scheduled periodically for additional consultation support to help you effectively and confidently use the information learned in the course.  

You'll have lifetime access to the course as long as the course is available with access to the training material, Community group, and periodic Zoom calls, including any updates made to the course along the way.

Getting Started 

This modules introduces the components of course and best ways to get the most out of the course. 

Using a Neurobiology & Attachment Lens for Grounding Treatment

This module discusses how attachment influences our conceptualization of self, others, and relationships - our core beliefs. You'll learn the role of memory and neuroscience for mentalization or what attachment theory refers to as internal working models.  You'll examine the archetypes of attachment (adding in a little Jung to explore light and shadow aspects of attachment relationships!) to help you conceptualize targets for change using expressive arts activities when working with adolescents in the play therapy process.

Mind-Body Connection for Emotion Regulation

This module examines the neuroscience of emotions and emotion regulation as well as the importance of integrating caregivers into the play therapy treatment process for co-regulation. You'll explore the concepts of Polyvagal Theory to understand the mind-body connection for regulating emotions. You'll learn expressive arts activities to teach mindfulness and coping skills.

Development Tasks of Adolescence and Art

This module reviews the developmental tasks of adolescents when working with them in play therapy to help you better assess your clients social-emotional functioning and create a realistic expectation for change and treatment needs. You'll learn the developmental aspects of art to help you recognize clinically relevant themes and how to process and hold the expressive arts process in play therapy.

Accessing the Therapeutic Powers of Play for Adolescents

This module discusses the importance of the therapeutic powers of play in the treatment process and how to apply these principles to expressive arts modalities with adolescents.

Expressive Arts Activities

This module discusses expressive arts activities you can use immediately with your adolescent clients.  The expressive arts activities discussed focus on using art, music, and poetry to help your adolescent clients explore self-concept, relationships, and core beliefs.  With the added feature of the Community Group discussion, you can get additional ideas to use the expressive arts activities discussed in the group as well as other ideas for activities to use with your clients.

Creating a Framework for Change

This module introduces you to the neuroscience and attachment-informed Be 5 Framework for integrating expressive arts into clinical play therapy practice with your adolescent clients. Grounding projective techniques into a frameworks provides support for clinical and ethical decision-making.

Setting Intention for Change

This module helps you take the information learned in the course and conceptualize how you can create a plan for using the concepts and ideas in clinical practice with your specific client population.  Learning new information is great and having a plan to implement the information confidently and effectively is where the magic happens to help you provide "next level" play therapy treatment.

Community Group Feature 

The Community Group is similar to a Facebook group within the course and provides the ability to get feedback, ask questions, and share ideas for using the information with your clients.  It's a great way to enhance your learning experience because it's available 24/7 and you can access it anytime.  

Live Zoom Group Consultation Calls

The Live Zoom Group Consultation calls will provide support so you can confidently and effectively implement the concepts and activities with your specific clients.  It's  an opportunity for you to get feedback and additional ideas to support the important work you're doing with your clients. These meetings are optional and intended to provide additional support during the course to enhance your learning experience.  The Live Zoom Group Consultation calls are scheduled periodically and announced in the Community Group feature.  These consultation calls do NOT count toward a Registered Play Therapy Certification or clinical licensure.

play therapy and expressive arts

Integrating Expressive Arts into Clinical Practice 

Sometimes traditional talk therapy doesn't help clients to fully and effectively explore and address the issues underlying their mental health challenges.

This training will help you understand role of neuroscience and attachment in the development of self-concept and relationship patterns to help you integrate expressive arts in the treatment process with your clients.

You'll learn expressive arts strategies you can use immediately with your clients. Live online group consultation meetings and the Community Group feature provide additional support to help you confidently use expressive arts with your clients and help them engage in the change process.

" This training is great, and I loved that you gave us interventions we could use right away! "

—Jessica B.

Meet Your Trainer

Hi, I am Cathi!

As a self-proclaimed psychotherapy “nerd,” I love helping child, adolescent, and family therapists confidently use play therapy and expressive arts with their clients so that they can experience the magic of play therapy and expressive arts in the healing process. Learning to provide play therapy and expressive arts with your child and adolescent clients can be overwhelming and confusing so it’s important to make sure you get great training that’s grounded in theory and research as well as working with a supervisor/consultant to help you apply what you learn in trainings to meet the needs of each of your clients. Using expressive arts with adolescents provides a powerful tool to help your young clients engage more fully and deeply in the change process. An important goal of expressive arts modalities is to elicit projective content and allow self-expression, so it’s important to make sure you have a framework to help you through the ethical and clinical decision-making process. I LOVE using expressive arts with adolescents and adults because it allows them to explore and process painful experiences and beliefs in a safe place that will support the healing process.

Cathi Spooner LCSW, RPT-S

Why am I qualified to train people?

As a mental health professional working with children, adolescents, adults, and families since 1992, I’ve gained a wealth of “nerdy” knowledge and experience to help you identify the “roots” of your young client’s presenting issues and use a strong clinical and ethical decision-making process to navigate the treatment process in a variety of clinical settings. I’m a licensed clinical social worker (since 1997), Registered Play Therapist Supervisor, Certified in Basic Sand Therapy, Certified Trauma Specialist (currently inactive), and foundationally trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). I’ve been training and supervising mental health professionals to use play therapy and expressive arts with children, adolescents, and families since 2007. I’ve conducted play therapy and expressive arts trainings at the local, state, national, and international level to help mental health professionals understand and learn to use the magic of play therapy and expressive arts.

Enroll Today!

If you've wanted to learn how to effectively and confidently use expressive arts in the treatment process with your adolescent clients, this course will give you a solid foundation to enhance your clinical work and great ideas to use with your clients.

Course Pricing