Aggression in the Playroom: A Synergetic Approach for Working with Trauma and Intensity in Play Therapy

September 25th 9-4 PM Workshop

Ferry Beach Retreat & Conference Center

Saco, Maine

This is your chance to rest in Maine and get play therapy credits with an internationally acclaimed play therapy trainer at the same time! Ferry Beach Retreat and Conference Center is located on 32 acres of beach and forest in Saco Maine abutting yet more trails and beach at Ferry State Park . Stay overnight on Thursday and enjoy the beach, woods, and dinner or simply come for the workshop and lunch on Friday.

Workshop Description

Although aggression is a common part of the play therapy process, many
therapists don’t have a clear understanding of what to do and how to
facilitate the intensity when it enters the playroom during play.  The
result can lead to inadvertently promoting aggression and increasing low
brain disorganization.  It can also lead to the therapist feeling beat up,
exhausted and hyper-aroused themselves, which can over time significantly impact their longevity in the field, as well as their ability to stay attuned and present to a child in the play room.

With the help of neuroscience, interpersonal neurobiology, and a Synergetic Play Therapy framework rooted in Child-Centered, Gestalt and Experiential Play Therapy theories, therapists will learn how to effectively work with aggressive play in a way that supports nervous system regulation, reorganization of the child’s lower centers of the brain and promote healing for the child.  Through role play, discussion, and experiential exercises participants will learn practical techniques that can be used right away in the playroom. Topics such as boundaries, co-regulation, nervous system activation, emotional flooding and use of aggressive toys and play will be explored.

This workshop will also guide participants towards a deeper understanding of what it means to become a child’s external regulator during aggressive play while practicing how to care for their own nervous system thereby decreasing compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma.  The result is the transformation of aggression into ways of connecting, healing and mutual trust. 

Participants will:

  • Describe strategies that maintain self-regulation in the midst of intense play/trauma play in a play therapy session. 
  • Define the term, “external regulator” in the playroom and explore strategies that support nervous system integration. 
  • Identify the link between a child’s dysregulated states of their
    nervous system and their aggressive and traumatic play.
  • Examine and practice how to facilitate aggressive play in the play therapy process without increasing or promoting aggression
    Examine the Synergetic Play Therapy concept of “The Set Up” in the
    playroom as a way to understand what the child is trying to communicate.
  • Demonstrate how to set boundaries without shaming or shutting down a child’s play.


Lisa Dion, LPC, RPT-S, is an international teacher, creator of Synergetic Play Therapy, founder and President of the Synergetic Play Therapy Institute, and host of the Lessons from the Playroom podcast.  She is the author of Aggression in Play Therapy: A Neurobiological Approach for Integrating Intensity and is the 2015 recipient of the Association for Play Therapy’s Professional Education and Training Award of Excellence.


Thursday September 24th (Optional)

4 PM Check-in

4-6 PM Beach and Trails

6-7 PM Dinner

7-8 PM Tea and Cookie Social

Friday September 25th

7:30-8:30: Breakfast (For those with Thursday night lodging at Ferry Beach Retreat and Conference Center)

9-12: Synergetic Play Therapy

12-1 PM: Lunch onsite

1-4 PM: Synergetic Play Therapy

4-4:30 PM: Evaluations and Certificates


This retreat/workshop will provide 6 APT CE or Contact Hours. By The Sea Seminars (APT Approved Provider 04-144)  takes full responsibility for the workshop.  Per the Maine Licensed Professional Counselors Board and Maine Board of Social Work, it is up to the individual to decide if the program enhances his/her professional competence.


The workshop is designed for masters or doctoral level therapists interested in play therapy.


This workshop is limited to 100 participants.

Cancellation Policy:

Refund of 50% provided with 72 hours notice.

Location Address and Contact Information:

Ferry Beach Retreat & Conference Center
5 Morris Ave, Saco, ME 04072
207.282.4489 •

What to Bring:

There are hiking trails and a beach for your enjoyment before or after the workshop. Bring whatever you need to enjoy this beautiful setting.

Registration through Ferry Beach Retreat & Conference Center:

Workshop and Lunch Only $175

  • Workshop: A Synergetic Approach for Working with Trauma and Intensity in Play Therapy (6 APT CE’s)
  • Lunch at Ferry Beach Retreat and Conference Center

Workshop with Overnight $295.00

  • Thursday night lodging at Ferry Beach Retreat and Conference Center
  • Thursday dinner and tea
  • Friday breakfast and lunch
  • Use of beach and trails Thursday and Friday
  • Linens are an optional extra ($35) for the overnight.

Want to stay longer?

Call Ferry Beach Retreat and Conference Center and check for availability: 207-282-4489 ext. 1

APT Provider 04-144

By The Sea Seminars, PO Box 177, Perry, ME  04667
(207) 214-2117