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S24-107 Exploring The Nine Play Themes In Child-Centered Play Therapy

Total Credits: 3 including 3 Category I CE

100 Children & Adolescents
Sabra Starnes, LICSW, LCSW-C, RPT-S, M.Ed
Course Levels:
3 Hours 15 Minutes
Target Audience:
Social Workers, LCPCs, and Psychologists



"Clients can show us using the toys what often they cannot say in words." — Sabra Starnes   

Child-centered play therapy is one of the two approaches therapists can use when working with clients ages 2 to 12.   This non-directive play therapy approach allows the client to lead treatment in deciding what to do in sessions using the available play-based interventions and techniques. Clients will show us what they think and feel through toys rather than words. Therapists must know the nine themes that may show up in a client session. There might be more than one theme in a client session.   

This interactive and engaging training will help mental health therapists introduce an understanding of the nine play therapy themes in child-centered play therapy.  Participants do not have to have a previous background in child-centered play therapy. The training will briefly cover the basics of child-centered play therapy to help understand the themes. After attending this training, participants will understand what themes may appear in client sessions, how to share this with families and caregivers, and how this may help therapists plan treatment.    


Sabra Starnes, LICSW, LCSW-C, RPT-S, M.Ed Related Seminars and Products

Next Place Therapy Services

Sabra Starnes is an independent clinical social worker licensed in Maryland, DC, Virginia, and Ohio. She is also a registered play therapist supervisor and clinical supervisor. She is a national speaker, author, trainer, and digital creator.   

Sabra is known for her work in creating and delivering training consultations on adoption-related issues using both a professional and personal perspective as a transitional adoptee and adoptive mother. Sabra has a personal and professional view around the adoption area and amplifies the adoptee's voice.  

Sabra owns Next Place Therapy Services, a group practice in Largo, MD, that serves clients ages 3 to 18 and their families using play therapy and expressive therapies. She also owns Next Place Lounge, which offers hybrid training to mental health clinicians nationally and internationally. She has created and delivered her training on adoption play therapy and sand tray. Along with offering therapy to practice, she provides clinical and play therapy supervision to mental health therapists.  Sabra ensures that training, supervision, and consultation support therapists to develop cultural humility, understand intersectionality, and work with all clients.  

Agenda & Learning Objectives


8:50 AM - 9:00 AM Log On 


9:00 AM - 9:15 AM   

  • Welcome and Introductions  


9:15 AM - 9:30 AM  

  • Overview of the Training     


9:30 AM - 10:15 AM   

  • Learning Objective 1:  

    • Identify Child-Centered Theory and the Nine Themes  

    • Present an overview of Child-Centered Play Therapy, its history, and key concepts.  

    • Discuss how Child-Centered Play Therapy involves the nine themes.  

    • Small Group Breakout Play Therapy Activity 


10:15 AM - 10:30 AM Break  


10:30 AM - 11:15 AM   

  • Learning Objective 2: 

    • List the 9 Play Therapy Themes  

    • Go through each of the nine Play Therapy Themes in detail, explaining each theme.  

    • Discuss how these themes may appear in clients' play therapy sessions.  

    • Small Group Breakout Play Therapy Activity  


11:15 AM - 11:30 AM   

  • Large Group Activity  

    • Divide participants into small groups.  

    • Provide case scenarios and ask each group to identify which themes might be present in the given scenarios.  

    • Reconvene to discuss their findings.  


11:30 AM - 12:00 PM   

  • Learning Objective 3: Analyze Toy Categories and Types  

    • Discuss the categories and types of toys that clients may use to express their worldview within each of the nine play themes.  

    • Show examples of toys commonly used in play therapy sessions.  

    • Highlight the significance of toy selection.  


12:00 PM - 12:15 PM Questions & Adjournment   



Upon the completion of this workshop, participants will be able to:


  • Identify child-centered play therapies as historically significant and how this approach involves the nine themes.   

  • List the nine play therapy themes in child-centered play therapy sessions that may appear in clients' sessions.   

  • Analyze the categories and types of toys clients may use in the nine play themes to express their worldview.   

Bibliography & References


Cochran, N. H., Nordling, W. J., & Cochran, J. L. (2022). The eight principles in child-centered play therapy. Child-Centered Play Therapy, 74–84.   

Kottman, T., & Meany-Walen, K. K. (2018). Doing play therapy: From building the relationship to facilitating change. The Guilford Press.   

Landreth, G. L. (2023). Child-centered play therapy. Play Therapy, 53–98.    

Murray, S. (2020). Play therapy. Routledge International Handbook of Play, Therapeutic Play and Play Therapy, 327–340.    

Sarah, B., Parson, J., Renshaw, K., & Stagnitti, K. (2020). Can children’s play themes be assessed to inform play therapy practice? Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 26(1), 257–267.    

Course Completion & CE Information

Category I Maryland BSWE Requirement

The Office of Continuing Professional Education at the University Of Maryland School Of Social Work is authorized by the Board of Social Work Examiners in Maryland to sponsor social work continuing education programs. This workshop qualifies for {3} Category I Continuing Education Units. The Office of Continuing Professional Education is also authorized by the Maryland Board of Psychologists and the Maryland Board of Professional Counselors to sponsor Category A continuing professional education.

Please refer to the tab "Live Interactive Webinar Policies & FAQs" for UMSSW Office of CPE policies regarding all live interactive webinar related matters.

Target Audience

Social Workers, LCPCs, and Psychologists

We welcome anyone interested in the topic!


Late Fees and Refunds

The base price is $70 and includes CE credit. A non-refundable late fee of $20 is added on 06/26/24

Cancellations** must be received 24 hours in advance prior to the workshop to receive a refund or an account credit.

Late fees cannot be refunded or applied to  account credit. 

**ALL cancellations will be subjected to a $35.00 administration fee.**

Live Interactive Webinar Platforms


The Office of Continuing Professional Education hosts Live Interactive Webinars through two platforms: Zoom and WebEx.

Both platforms offer high quality and user-friendly webinar platforms for our registrants.


System Requirements:

  • Operating Systems: Windows XP or higher; MacOS 9 or higher; Android 4.0 or higher.
  • Internet Browser: Google Chrome; Firefox 10.0 or higher.

Our system is not compatible with the Safari web browser.

  • Broadband Internet Connection: Cable, High-speed DSL and any other medium that is internet accessible.

**Please have your device charging at all times to ensure that your device does not lose power during the webinar.


Course Interaction Requirements:

To participate in Live Interactive Webinars, you MUST have a device that allows you to view the presentation on screen and hear the instructor at all times. We do not allow participants to call-in from their phones or mobile devices and solely listen to the presentation. Participation in Live Interactive Webinars is mandatory.

Webinar Policies & FAQs

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ADA Accommodations

If you are requesting ADA accommodations, please contact our office via email at least two weeks prior to the workshop date. Requests after that date may not be fulfilled.  

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