Child Centered Play Therapy: Troubleshooting the 13 Biggest Stuck Points

Child Centered Play Therapy is a theory and modality of Play Therapy that is pretty darn different from other theories. It’s a theory where the “intervention” is the relationship you hold with the child, the structure you create, and the facilitative responses you give during play. 

No therapist led or directed activities.  No therapist led or directed content…well…except for some structuring skills and limit setting - but that’s it! And while, centering the child and letting the child fully lead is wonderful, effective, and amazing …well it can lead to some stuck points and stress. 

Specifically you might wonder- How do I know that CCPT is working? When are clients done? Am I doing enough? Am I even being helpful here? 

And when the intervention is the relationship as well as the specific set of facilitative and structuring skills it’s really difficult to know how you make sense of it all! What were they actually communicating? How do you know if they are making progress?!

And when preparing involves you authentically showing up as yourself - regulated, open, and willing to support the child through play, CCPT skills, and facilitative responses it’s natural to struggle to identify how what you are doing inside the Playroom is helping the child outside of the Playroom.  This struggle is real and valid, especially when other theories (like Cognitive Behavioral Play Therapy) have interventions and activities that can clearly be tied to goals. 

This can all be intensified when parents (who are usually in pain and distressed too) just want their child to get better - fast.  There can be pressure to “teach skills”, “talk it out”, or questions about why the therapy process isn’t moving faster. Parents aren’t so excited that you are “just playing” with their child and don’t understand how CCPT can help. 

This may leave you wondering if you should shift your theory, do more, or if Child Centered Play Therapy is even the right fit. If what you are doing is enough. 

When you finally are in the session, holding space for the child, it can feel awkward, disingenuous, or just "not you" when you start to use the facilitative statements or tracking.  You think that maybe this child is going to think CCPT is weird, not want to come, or become annoyed with you.  You also aren't quite sure if you did the "right" thing with your statements or if you should have set a limit and the flexibility of it all can be overwhelming. 

Now imagine this… 

  • You walk into your initial intake sessions knowing exactly how to explain Child Centered Play Therapy to parents 
  • You have the skills and tools to work with the parents, family system, and individual child 
  • You understand what you should say during the session in a way that sounds authentically you 
  • You understand exactly how to track the effectiveness of CCPT and understand how what you are doing in session can translate to results outside of session 
  • You have an understanding of just exactly what a child is trying to communicate to you through their play 
  • You have a clear understanding of when to set limits and why 
  • You have the skills and tools to decide when to combine CCPT with another approach and how to implement a prescriptive play therapy approach 

And all of this with tons of handouts, downloads, and case examples to guide your way and increase clarity! 

Child Centered Play Therapy is an incredibly effective, respectful and engaging type of Play Therapy.  Not to mention, it is developmentally appropriate model for young people based on their level of brain development AND it’s also super FUN! With this type of Play Therapy we can create deep levels of healing for clients across a wide range of cultures, gender, and ages as well as create a space where healing doesn't have to mean boring!

How would your practice be different if you felt confident and empowered in your Child Centered Play Therapy practice?  What about if you had the exact tools to identify for parents (and yourself) the effective mechanisms in Child Centered Play Therapy and had a clearer understanding of your role as a Child Centered Play Therapist? How would your sessions change if this confidence allowed you to show up as authentic and regulated while using the facilitative responses and then after the session door closes you know exactly how to transfer all of the session content into your progress note

In this course Child Centered Play Therapy: Troubleshooting the 13 Biggest Stuck Points you will learn the top 13 issues that get brought up in my Play Therapy consultation and supervision groups and specific ideas and steps for how to troubleshoot each issue. 

Inside the course you will learn:

  • An overview and refresher of the Child Centered Play Therapy model 
  • 13 of the biggest stuck points in Child Centered Play Therapy and skills and tools to troubleshoot difficulties 
  • The exact information to include in your informed consent with parents along with a BONUS script video 
  • The role of parents in Child Centered Play Therapy and the specific session content you should be covering 
  • Increased decision making skills for how to chose facilitative responses 
  • How to increase your ability to have authentic facilitative responses and tracking statements 
  • How to respond if a child has limited verbalizations during play 
  • Tools for assessing deeper meaning and play themes 
  • Troubleshooting skills for assessing when and how to set a limit 
  • How to evaluate effectiveness and if what you are doing is “enough” 
  • Tools to assess the pace of improvement in CCPT 
  • How to identify if CCPT is a good fit for your client 
  • Skills for combining directive and nondirective approaches 
  • How to document CCPT in your progress note including the CCPT note template and examples 

You also won’t walk away empty handed.  Inside the course you get multiple handouts and bonus downloads including:

  • Child Centered Play Therapy Cheat Sheet: Is CCPT Working
    • 7 ways to assess and identify if CCPT is working  
  • Child Centered Play Therapy Session Skills Cheat Sheet  
    • 3 therapeutic conditions for effectiveness  
    • 9 session and response structuring skills 
    • 6 facilitative responses 
  • Child Centered Play Therapy Progress Note Cheat Sheet 
    • Template and examples of what to write in your notes including 
      • Data
      • Assessment 
      • Intervention 
      • Interactive Complexity 
      • Plan 
  • BONUS Explaining Child Centered Play Therapy to Parents video 

CE Information:

This course is approved for 2.5 APT Non-Contact hours by Meehan Mental Health Services (APT Approved Provider 19-580).  

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe at least three important elements to include in your explanation of Child Centered Play Therapy to parents.
  • Identify four areas to assess to determine if Child Centered Play Therapy is effective.
  • Demonstrate how to integrate directive and nondirective Play Therapy approaches.


Course Format:  Train when it works for you! This course is a pre-recorded online self paced course where the modules are broken up into smaller digestible chunks that can be completed during a client cancellation, on the weekends, early in the morning, late at night - whenever! You can login at your own pace, re-watch content, and have unlimited access to the course. This course is designated "Non-Contact" by the Association for Play Therapy.

Who should attend:  This program is a beginning to intermediate course for Play Therapists who have had some foundational training in Child Centered Play Therapy who have questions and want clarity on the most common stuck points in the Child Centered Play Therapy model. 

Cost: $47.00 

Course curriculum

  • 1

    Instruction and Handouts

    • Introduction and Handouts

    • MMHS Troubleshooting CCPT PowerPoint COLOR COPY

    • MMHS Troubleshooting CCPT B+W COPY

    • MMHS How to Know if CCPT is Working

    • MMHS CCPT Session Skills Cheat Sheet

    • MMHS CCPT Progress Note Cheat Sheet

    • Course Disclaimer

  • 2

    Module 1: CCPT Overview

    • Module 1: CCPT Overview

  • 3

    Module 2: CCPT With Parents

    • Module 2: CCPT With Parents

    • Bonus Video: Explaining CCPT To Parents

  • 4

    Module 3: CCPT Mechanics

    • Model 3: CCPT Mechanics

  • 5

    Module 4: CCPT Effectiveness

    • Module 4: CCPT Effectiveness

  • 6

    Module 5: Directive Vs. Nondirective

    • Module 5: Directive Vs. Nondirective

  • 7

    Module 6: CCPT Documentation

    • Module 6: CCPT Documentation

  • 8

    Module 7: CCPT Considerations

    • Module 7: CCPT Considerations

  • 9


    • Bibliography Troubleshooting CCPT

  • 10

    Getting Your APT CEs

    • Getting Your APT CEs