APT content area: History, Seminal Theories, Special Topics

Introduction to Gestalt Play Therapy

Description: Gestalt play therapy is a seminal theory of play therapy. This directive, humanistic, and process-oriented play therapy approach is experiential in nature. The therapeutic relationship serves as a container for exploring moment-to-moment interactions, targeting interventions, and promoting a focus on the child's self in the here and now. Gestalt play therapy seeks to increase awareness and cooperative functioning of body sensations, thoughts, and feelings in such a way that the child accesses and utilizes their inherent power toward healthy growth. 

This workshop offers an introduction to play through a review of its history, seminal theories, and the play therapy space. The presenter will also explore the basic tenets of gestalt therapy and lead the participants through a variety of play therapy techniques designed to increase self-awareness and contact. 

Learning Objectives: 

Discuss the history of play therapy

Describe the differences between directive and nondirective play therapy

Delineate the Gestalt play therapy concept of healthy development of the “self” from other seminal play therapies

Describe the Gestalt play therapy relationship

Discuss the interactive role of contact and boundaries through a gestalt play therapy lens

List the steps of a gestalt play therapy exercises

Instructor Bio:

Dr. Emily Keller, LPCC, LCMHC-S, RPT-S integrates energy psychotherapy, redecision therapy, gestalt therapy, play therapy, and sand tray therapy to help clients grieve, heal, and grow through trauma. She works with individuals, couples, families, and children at her private practice in Livermore, CA. She also provides play therapy supervision and online training workshops. She is a previous vice president of Southeast Institute for Group and Family Therapy in Chapel Hill, NC, where she offered supervision and training in redecision therapy. Dr. Keller has extensive training and experience in redecision therapy. Redecision therapy was developed by Bob and Mary Goulding, who both trained with Fritz Perls. Redecision therapy combines the focus on experience in the here and now with elements of transactional analysis. Dr. Keller believes that when we are connected with our authentic, true selves, we see the beauty and wonder in ourselves and others. Then, we are willing to feel, think, and problem-solve cooperatively — despite our differences. Dr. Keller is a former volunteer for the Social Justice Theater of the Carolinas, for which she has led audiences through collaborative expressive arts programs and discussions on difficult social issues. Dr. Keller and her husband of 22 years enjoy hiking and exploring nature throughout California. Learn more about Dr. Keller’s work by reading these articles in Play Therapy Magazine: Wonder: The Key to Being in an Authentic Relationship with Children and Disentangling the Past: A Sand Tray Method to Integrate Child and Adult Parts.

Emily Keller, PhD, LPCC, LCMHC-S, RPT-S