You love Cognitive Behavioral Therapy - it just makes sense that the thoughts we have affect our feelings, which then affect our choices! With CBT you have the tools to work both on the thoughts that lead to distress as well as support behaviors to improve helpful behaviors that work for the child as well as those around them.

And yet…how many times have you tried to assess a behavior with a child and they instantly get defensive?  I get it - it is so hard to be in therapy and to have a spotlight shining on your choices. It can feel sensitive when a child has so many people around them telling them to change or what they shouldn't be doing.

And when working with parents, they can all but throw their hands up, and out of hopelessness and frustration label these behaviors as “bad” or “manipulative”.  Parents are usually worried about the behavior part of the cognitive triangle - how we can change behaviors to be in line with rules and expectations.  How therapy can take the stress out of transitions to the bus stop, bed time chaos, and getting chores done. 

But what if there was more? What if human beings, behavior, and connection was more complex than thoughts, feelings, and behaviors? What about the role of physiology? And what about the function beneath the behavior

What about how a child’s perception of the world, how they would like the world to be, and the factors they perceive to control their lives impacts their symptoms and healing journey? 

Now imagine this…

  • You have the language and tools to talk to children and families about the needs underneath the behavior 
  • You have a more holistic way of integrating the traditional CBT focus on thoughts, feelings, and behaviors with physiology and meeting needs 
  • You have the skills and tools to increase child empowerment over choices 
  • You know exactly how to talk about behavior without putting the client out of their window of tolerance by helping the client evaluate effectiveness of behavior in a non judgmental way 
  • You have a framework to discuss more complex factors that lead to distress including the way the child wants their world to be versus reality with compassion 

Reality Therapy has been described as a Person-Centered version of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy - putting the client in the center as the main evaluator of their choices in a compassionate way.  

Reality Therapy focuses on not only our thoughts, feelings, and choices, but also the role of physiology, the way we believe the world should be versus how it actually is, and our 5 basic needs.  

Reality Therapy believes these 5 needs are the driving force for all human behavior.  When you can dive deeper into how a child is meeting needs through their choices you can empower children to become significantly more effective in meeting their needs in a helpful and healthy way. 

Reality Therapy also has a significant focus on connection and the role relationships play in our lives as well as how the child desires the world to be versus reality.   Reality Therapy also provides a system to increase the child’s perception and hope in their ability to change by focusing on personal choices. 

How would your practice be different if you learned how to empower a child’s choice and support children in meeting their needs?  What about if you had the tools to help children evaluate their behaviors without the defensiveness?  How would parent sessions be different if you had the ability to talk effectively about what’s underneath the behavior?  

In this course Reality Play Therapy: Empowering Choice and Meeting Needs you will learn how to integrate Reality Therapy and Play Therapy into your daily therapy practice. You will learn the models, language, and tools that I use daily in my Play Therapy practice! 

Inside the course you will learn:

  • 12 Reality Play Therapy techniques that you can start to utilize tomorrow in your Play Therapy practice
  • Specific techniques and strategies to help clients non defensively evaluate their choices
  • Effective and specific ways to help clients create new plans for action they are actually invested in
  • Exact strategies and techniques to evaluate children’s needs underneath behaviors
  • Techniques to help children can effectively meet their needs in a helpful way

You also won’t walk away empty handed.  Inside the course you get a 16 page workbook including templates, handouts, and Play Therapy activities including: 

  • 5 Needs Activities including: 
    • Drawing assessment 
    • Evaluating needs meeting 
    • Assessment of current and future ways to meet needs 
    • Exploration of needs 
  • WDEP Worksheets: 
    • WDEP processing guide 
    • WDEP drawing activity 
  • Total Behavior Car 
  • Quality World collage activity and prompts 

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:

  • Identify 12 Reality Play Therapy techniques and activities to use with children.
  • Describe how children meet each of their 5 basic needs and explain how Reality Therapy can increase children's ability to meet needs.
  • Demonstrate how to use the WDEP technique with children in play therapy to empower choice


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.

Course Presenter: Hi! I'm Ann - or formally Ann Meehan, MS, LPCC, RPT-S, EMDRIA Consultant.  I work as a private practice therapist in the north woods of Minnesota and specialize in working with young people ages 3 and up using Play Therapy and EMDR.  I have a library of trainings and run The Playful Therapist Blog.  Overall I am passionate about helping other therapists grow into competent and confident Play Therapists, trauma therapists, and child and adolescent therapists.   

Who should attend:  This program is a beginning to intermediate course for Play Therapist and therapists that work with children and adolescents who want to learn a new wholistic model of Play Therapy for working with children's thoughts, choices, feelings and physiology as well as a model that enters the world of the child and helps to empower them to have control over their choices and meet their needs. 

Cost: $47.00 

Course curriculum

  • 1

    Reality Play Therapy

    • Introduction and Handouts

    • Module 1: Choice Theory

    • Module 2: Reality Therapy

    • Module 3: Reality Therapy With Children

    • Module 4: Reality Play Therapy

    • Bibliography

    • Getting Your APT CEs