I am so excited to be the president of the Washington Association for Play Therapy for the 2016-2017 year! Enjoy these two videos that explain how play therapy works:
Meet Andrew
Play Therapy Works
Expectations have a lot to do with setting up our kids for success or failure, or somewhere in between. Read this great article on expectations we put on kids:
Can We Please Stop Gaslighting Our Kids?

An anger outburst can be like a volcanic eruption. Many kids and parents have a hard time seeing how they can go from feeling and acting “okay” to having a complete meltdown in such a short time. The anger volcano is a way to help explain meltdowns for both children and adults. It can also be used as a tool to teach coping skills. Here’s how to do it:

  • Draw an outline of a volcano.
  • Draw various levels of lava building up by using different colors for each level. Each level of lava represents something that builds up anger/frustration/anxiety/etc. ***Examples: Not getting enough sleep, skipping breakfast or a snack, leaving homework at home, getting a paper cut, a friend said something mean, you lose during a game.
  • Once the volcano is full of lava, identify a problem that usually makes the child or someone they know “explode”, and then draw the volcano exploding with lava.
  • Once your volcano eruption is completed, you can then start to discuss how little things can build up over time, and what it takes to “cool off” some of that lava or vent out the pressure in order to prevent an eruption. 

PictureArt by Dave Peixoto
Family meetings help open up communication, strengthen relationships, and resolve specific conflicts. Meetings are also another way to bring consistency and routine into your family life. Here are some simplified suggestions on how to start      implementing family meetings in your home

  • Set up a consistent day and time to meet. Pick a time where everyone is most likely to participate (ex: Mondays at 7, every other Tuesday after dinner, etc.)
  • Begin and end on time. Maybe designate someone to be in charge of the time.
  • Always start and end on a positive note
  • Rotate roles such as leader, timekeeper, and secretary to help promote equality, active listening, and problem solving
  • Focus on one topic/problem at a time
  • Take a break if things get to intense

Start off with the following sample structure, and alter it as you figure out what works best for your family
  • Start with complements – Each person gives at least one compliment to another member in the family
  • Brainstorm a topic such as an upcoming birthday, family rules, rewards, chores, consequences, etc.
  • End with something positive to share such as something you enjoyed during the day or something you are looking forward to

Check out the next networking meeting I'm hosting for Washington Association for Play Therapy:

Seattle Meeting:
Thursday July 16th, 2015

7:00- 8:45pm
Seattle Youth & Family Therapy 
1707 N 45th St
Suite 100 
Seattle, WA 98103

Discussion Group Topic: 
Therapeutic Uses of Sand Tray in Play Therapy

1.5 Free APT CEUs** for APT Members

Click Here to Join  

Come join us as we discuss how to use the sand tray in play therapy with children. Have some of your cases in mind as we discuss therapeutic uses and approaches to understanding sand tray.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn about the therapeutic uses of sand tray in play therapy
  • Identify useful prompts for sand tray creation that will target specific individual problems
  • Discuss approaches to understand sand scenes including transference and countertransference
Students are highly encouraged to attend. If you are new to play therapy or still learning, please come with your curiosity and questions. 

The Seattle meeting will be facilitated by WAAPT President-Elect Elizabeth Peixoto, MS, LMHC. Elizabeth Peixoto is Licensed Mental Health Counselor with a private practice in Seattle called Seattle Youth and Family Therapy. She has been working with children and families therapeutically for nine years and specializes in anxiety, depression, aggressive behaviors, adjustment difficulties, and trauma. 


Social workers, psychologists, mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, school counselors, nurses, interns, undergraduate and graduate students

** Students: Did you Know?? That you can begin to accrue APT Approved CEs that will count toward your RPT credential even before you graduate with your Master's Degree?! 

Cost: Free!!!

May is foster care month! I want to share a little about a wonderful organization that I currently volunteer for, A Home Within, as well as one of their amazing programs, Fostering Relationships

A Home Within is the only nonprofit organization focused exclusively on meeting the emotional needs of foster youth.

Every day, A Home Within provides free long-term psychotherapy for current and former foster youth, because having one healthy, stable relationship is physically, emotionally, and socially transformative. No one ages out of A Home Within. Volunteer therapists work with foster youth, at no charge, as long as it takes. 

Fostering Relationships provides tools and online trainings to help caregivers, staff & foster parents support growth and healthy development using relationship-based practices. 

If you're interested in volunteering or would like more info, send them an email, give them a call, or check out their website! Feel free to reach out to me as well - I'd be happy to share my wonderful experience with this amazing organization!







You’ve probably heard all of this (or at least some of this) before, but I think we can all use a reminder every now and then, and that includes myself.

Can you find an extra 5 minutes after your long day at work or school? I know everyone’s lives are busy, but the busier you are, the more important it is to find just 5 minutes to relax. If “deep breathing” doesn’t work for you, try one of these 3 super simple, super different ways to relax.

·      Get that energy out of you: Do something active. Take a walk around your block. Do 20 jumping jacks. Find something both simple and enjoyable that works for you.

·      Calm that energy down: Do some stretching. You don’t have to be a yoga person to do stretches. Interlace your fingers and raise your arms above your head. Stand up straight and then slowly try to reach your hands to your toes. Roll your head from side to side, trying to touch your ear to your shoulder. Just find some stretches that work for you.

·      Reboot your energy: Let your mind take a break and do something totally different. Take a shower. Lay down for 5 minutes with your cat or dog. Read a magazine. Drink a cup of tea on your patio.

Each person is different in terms of what feels relaxing and calming, so try different things out. As you know, the more you practice relaxing strategies, the more relaxed you’ll feel. So, if you get in a good routine of spending 5 minutes a day relaxing, try to make it 10. Better yet, try to add an additional 5 minutes in the morning, as well as an additional 5 minutes in the middle of the day.

People of all ages thrive on having some sort of structure/rules. Just think about it.
  • You go to work 8-5 and earn a paycheck. 
  • You eat something healthy for dinner so you can have dessert. 
  • You finish your household chores in time so you can relax and watch a show before bed. 
  • You do something nice for someone just to see them smile.

Here are some tips on making an easy and affordable rewards system for your own family at home:

Start with one simple rule
   o   Ex: Finish your homework before dinner

Make sure the rules are specific
   o   Ex: Put away the dishes on Mondays

Write down and display all rules so everyone in the household knows what to expect
   o   Ex: Take a break when you’re upset (instead of yelling)
        *Make sure you follow these rules too! Modeling positive behaviors is essential.

Make a list of affordable rewards
   o   Ex: High fives, playing a game together, reading a book together, hugs, play (videogames, Legos, etc.), paint nails, play outside outside, outdoors treasure hunt (find bugs, leaves, rocks, etc.) go to the park, go swimming, and the list goes on!

Now, with your family, discuss how the rewards can apply to each rule you make

   o   Your family will be more invested in the system if they have a say in rules and rewards

PictureCelebrating Play Therapy Week! Art by Dave Peixoto

 February 1-7 is National Play Therapy Week! So what is Play Therapy? Play Therapy is a therapeutic method in which a child uses his/her natural means of expression (play) in order to help process, explore, and express emotions and internal challenges in a non-threatening way and with the guidance of a therapist. Play Therapy can also help build self-esteem, learn effective coping skills, improve communication skills, learn how to problem-solve, and the list goes on!

Playing is beneficial for individuals of ALL ages though! So, in celebration of National Play Therapy Week, I hope we can all do something playful at least once a day. Even if it just takes a couple minutes to draw a silly picture, make up some new dance moves, or spend an evening playing board games with friends, I know you'll feel better afterwards!