2017 APT Conference Highlight By Lisa Shadburn, PsyD

The Association for Play Therapy’s International Conference is a play therapist’s dream come true, filled with top-notch play therapy training, opportunities to have stimulating conversations with experts in the field, special events celebrating APT milestones and accomplishments of APT members, and a chance to connect with play therapists from around the country. I went into this year’s conference with high expectations, and APT members did not disappoint! On the night I arrived, I immediately found other California Play Therapists at a CALAPT networking event that culminated in a laugh-out-loud round of board games where CALAPT members were joined by some play therapy friends from Idaho. The laughter was infectious, and the week was off to a great
start! Later in the week, we all made time to play again when we met up at APT’s 80’s themed 35th birthday bash. I was delighted to be able to catch up, reminisce and hit the dance floor with colleagues who I have met at past APT events and who have now become valued friends. Although the social events are certainly fun, the cornerstone of the APT conference is of course the amazing training. There were so many wonderful workshops offered that I had a difficult time choosing! I felt very fortunate to be able to join CALAPT President Shirla de Magalhaes in attending a wonderful training led by the legendary Garry Landreth, EdD, LPC, RPT-S & Daniel Sweeney, PhD, LPC, RPT-S cleverly titled, “Knowing That You Don’t Know All You’d Like to Know: Struggles, Issues, and Personal Insights in Being a Play Therapist.” Along with participating in interesting discussions about our play therapy work, we also engaged in an enlightening exercise where we paired into groups of two, faced each other, and physically mirrored each other’s actions. This enjoyable activity set the stage for us to be in tune with our partners, and reminded us how much we could communicate with each other without using any words.

One of my goals at this year’s conference was to get more specialized supervision training, and I found exactly what I was looking for in a thought-provoking discussion group entitled, “Spirituality: Our Forgotten Ally in Treatment & Supervision,” led by Linda Homeyer, PhD, LPC-S, RPT-S, and a valuable workshop called “Exploring Diversity, Deepening Conversations: A Sandtray Model For Play Therapy Supervisors To Approach Multi-Cultural Issues” presented by CALAPT
member Karen Pernet, MSW, LCSW, RPT-S. In Karen Pernet’s supervision workshop, I had the great pleasure of working closely with a small group of play therapy supervisors while we created sand trays and engaged in heartfelt discussions regarding diversity and supervision issues. One supervision tool I was excited to walk away with was called “reflective sand trays,” presented in Karen Pernet’s workshop and adapted from a technique developed by Eliana Gil. In this exercise, one member of the small group (the “presenter”) shared a challenging situation with a supervisee involving a diversity issue, describing the situation while group members listened. Next, that presenter created a sand tray about the supervisory situation while the other group members each simultaneously created a reflection sand tray based on what was presented. One by one, the presenter and other group members each described and processed their sand trays. While taking part in this experiential supervision exercise, each member of our group contributed valuable insight that introduced helpful new perspectives on the situation presented. There was so much offered at the APT International Conference that it was impossible to take in everything I wanted to experience, but I made the most of each opportunity and enjoyed every moment. I feel re-inspired in my work, and I am excited to share more play therapy training opportunities this year throughCALAPT.

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