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Digital Seminar

Play Therapy for Tweens and Teens: Strategies to Build Rapport, Invite Emotional Expression, and Navigate the Unique Challenges of this Developmental Stage

Jennifer Lefebre, PsyD, RPT-S
6 Hours 07 Minutes
Mar 21, 2019
Product Code:
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Digital Seminar
Never expires.


Living in a developmental stage that is inherently confusing and chaotic, adolescents are vulnerable, unsure of themselves, and often guarded when it comes to trusting and relating to others. Most teens and tweens are not in therapy by choice, and typically are NOT interested in talking about their feelings or the issues adults have identified as “problems,” especially with a stranger.

As a therapist, this presents a challenge for engaging teens and tweens who are clearly struggling but unwilling or unable to talk about it. At a time when adolescents and preteens need our help in navigating the multiple challenges of family, academic, and social life more than ever, the gap between clinical theory as taught in graduate school and real-life practice continues to widen.

Play therapy offers a unique avenue for expression that honors these clients’ developmental level and gives language to their thoughts and feelings in a non-threatening manner. Through the power of play, you can help teens and tweens process their emotions, build self-regulation skills, improve distress tolerance, and discover themselves in a non-directive safe way.

Watch trauma expert and Registered Play Therapist Supervisor (RPT-S), Dr. Jennifer Lefebre, in this recording full of creative, effective play-based interventions that can easily be integrated into the work you are already doing.

Using music, metaphors, art, movement, sandtrays and more, you can effectively treat many of the clinical issues these kids are facing, including:

  • Depression and mood disorders, anxiety, trauma, OCD
  • Low self-worth, identity development, self-injury, difficulty relating to others
  • Impulsivity and poor judgment, difficulty accepting responsibility
  • Pressure related to social media, sexual activity, drug and alcohol use
  • And More

Discover how play therapy will inspire and transform your work with tweens and teens!



Jennifer Lefebre, PsyD, RPT-S's Profile

Jennifer Lefebre, PsyD, RPT-S Related seminars and products

Jennifer Lefebre, PsyD, RPT-S, is a clinical psychologist, registered play therapist supervisor, and trauma-sensitive yoga facilitator. She is the president-elect for the New England Association for Play Therapy. Her clinical and research interests focus on the assessment and treatment of children, adolescents, adults and families whose lives have been impacted by complex trauma. Dr. Lefebre has extensive experience working with young children (0-5), adult survivors of severe childhood abuse and neglect, first responders, and combat veterans.

Dr. Lefebre is the clinical director at Healing the Child Within, a holistic trauma center in northwestern Connecticut which integrates psychotherapy, yoga, play, and expressive arts therapies into the treatment of complex trauma. She also provides clinical supervision and play therapy consultation throughout New England and online, and an adjunct faculty member at several universities, teaching both at the undergraduate and graduate level. In addition to being an experienced play therapist and professor, Dr. Lefebre is a sought-after expert for speaking engagements, podcasts and webinars on the topics of play therapy and complex childhood trauma.


Speaker Disclosures: 

Financial:  Jennifer Lefebre is in private practice. She receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial:  Jennifer Lefebre is a member of the Association of Play Therapy.


Additional Info

Program Information

Access for Self-Study (Non-Interactive)

Access never expires for this product.


  1. Facilitate verbal and nonverbal expressions of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in teens and tweens through the use of four or more play therapy interventions.
  2. Develop play therapy strategies that build resilience and self-esteem.
  3. Discover how play therapy can increase engagement and build therapeutic rapport within this dynamic developmental stage via play-based assessments and icebreakers.
  4. Evaluate the balance between both structure & freedom and independence & dependence, and learn at least four play therapy strategies to maintain this flow.
  5. Build confidence in teaching caregivers how to play with their adolescents, and how to make these experiences part of their daily routines.
  6. Integrate play therapy and traditional therapies to support the constant shifts in this developmental stage.



Why Play Therapy? What is It, and How is It Different with Teens and Tweens?

  • Evidence supporting the benefits of play and creativity with this population
  • Therapeutic powers of play
    • Neurobiology of play & impact on trauma and attachment
  • Avoid pitfalls when working with teens and tweens
    • The frustration factor ~ use of cognitive skills and language
    • Understand the difference between resistance, opposition and shut-down
    • Play-based assessments and icebreakers to increase engagement
  • Limitations & potential risks

From Client-Centered to CBT, a Myriad of Play Therapy Approaches as Applied to Adolescents

  • Developmental Play Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Play Therapy
  • Adlerian Play Therapy
  • Client-centered Play Therapy​
  • Theraplay®
  • Play therapy with families and groups


Physical, Cognitive, Moral, and Psychosocial Development Changes and Milestones of Tweens and Teens

  • Autonomy from parents & family
  • Relationships, friendships & intimacy
  • Identity development
  • Moral reasoning & physical and intellectual growth

Influences of Culture, Heredity, Environment and Social Setting on Adolescents

  • Social media, television and movies, music, electronics…oh my!
  • This is the world we live in…how it effects treatment and growth

Striking a Balance

  • Structure & freedom and independence & connection
  • Verbal intellect & playfulness and creativity
  • Strategies to teach caregivers how to play with their adolescents, and how to make these experiences part of their daily routines


Enjoy the Silence ~ How to Use Silence to Increase Engagement and Therapeutic Rapport

  • Try not to laugh
  • Hide & seek & peek-a-boo
  • What might this be? What can this do??

Walk this Way ~ Embodied Play Therapy and Movement Techniques to Increase Emotional and Behavioral Regulation

  • The floor is lava...The floor is quick sand
  • Mirror, mirror
  • Trauma-informed yoga

What’s on Your Play List? ~ How to Use Music to Facilitate Therapeutic Discussion

  • Trashballs
  • Catch the beat
  • What are you listening to?

Enter Sandman ~ The Use of Sandtrays to Facilitate Verbal and Nonverbal Expressions of Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviors

  • Safe Place
  • Futurerama
  • Half & half

How to Use Drawing, Paint, Clay, Masks, and More!

Target Audience

  • Psychologists
  • Social Workers
  • Counselors
  • Educators
  • Speech-Language Pathologists
  • Occupational Therapists

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