What is Synergetic Play Therapy?

Synergetics: The Empirical Study of Systems in Transformation

What is Synergetic Play Therapy?Synergetics is the empirical study of systems in transformation, with an emphasis on total system behavior unpredicted by the behavior of any isolated components.

Synergetic Play Therapy™ (SPT) is a new and cutting edge model of play therapy designed to re-pattern the disorganization in the lower brain centers, areas that are often unaddressed in many current play therapy models. Often referred to as "the new paradigm of healing in play therapy," Synergetic Play Therapy™ is the first research-based play therapy model to blend together neuroscience, attachment to self, therapist authenticity, brain development, affect attunement, physics, emotional congruence, nervous system regulation, the projective process and more, to get to the heart of the healing process for children (and the therapist!). When a therapist becomes centered, she can facilitate collaborative communication, thus creating a synergy between herself and the child.

“Such communication allows for the creation of brain connections that are vital for the development of a child’s capacity for self regulation,” says Dr. Daniel Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and the founding co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA. Although Synergetic Play Therapy is called a model of play therapy, it is actually a way of being in relationship with self and other. It is an all-encompassing paradigm and can be applied to any facet of life. Subsequently, any current model of therapy or “ology” can also be applied to it.

"Seldom have play therapists concentrated on lower brain symptomatology of hyperarousal, affective regulation or physical modulation of impulses. These are all symptoms characteristically suggestive of low brain disorganization (brain stem and diencephalon regions) and all common autonomic symptoms of severe trauma exposure." (van der Kolk, 2006).

Check Out Our Training Courses

Introduction to Synergetic Play Therapy.*NEW* Online Introduction to Synergetic Play Therapy

Have you ever felt lost or confused about what is happening in the playroom? Do you wonder if you are making a difference or helping the child heal in the most effective way possible? In our Online Introduction to Synergetic Play Therapy course, we’ll explore what exactly is happening in the play therapy process, how change happens and ultimately what it takes to help children heal at profound levels. You will finish this online course understanding exactly how the "magic" happens in the playroom.

Join us as we take our popular Introduction to Synergetic Play Therapy class online!  Learn more now!

Become a Certified Synergetic Play Therapist!

Why is neuroscience so important to play therapy? Lots of reasons.Are you ready to take your Synergetic Play Therapy skills to the next level? Are you ready to expand your understanding of interpersonal neurobiology and take your ability to help a child heal to a whole new realm of possibility? Are you ready to dive deeper into the Synergetic Play Therapy Process as you learn how to embrace yourself, your magnificence and tap into a higher state of authenticity? If so, we invite you to embark on a nine-month experience that will take your confidence and skill level to the next level, so that you can love yourself and support your child clients in loving themselves more fully. Learn more now!

Six-Day Synergetic Play Therapy Intensives

SPT Certification RetreatHappening several times throughout each year, the six-day intensive is for Masters-level therapists, teachers and clinicians who want to jump in and really experience the magic of Synergetic Play Therapy.

We designed the course to introduce play therapists to pertinent information on brain development, the projective process, affect attunement attachment and nervous system regulation that impacts the children in the play therapy room. Specific attention will be given to interventions that are designed to repattern the disorganization in the lower brain centers, areas that are often unaddressed in many current play therapy models. Click here to learn more!


Research-Informed Therapy

purple-brainBecause we utilize a research-informed play therapy model, it's important that we stay current with the latest research on play, neurobiology, mindfulness, etc. Lisa Dion and Kaylin Gray did extensive research that was published in 2004 on "The Impact of therapist Authentic Expression on Emotional Tolerance in Synergetic Play Therapy," which appeared in the International Journal of PlayTherapy. 23(1), 55-63 (see below for abstract). As well, therapists affiliated with the Play Therapy Institute of Colorado are in the process of conducting additional research studies on various aspects of Synergetic Play Therapy™. Current projects on compassion fatigue and attunement are underway.

Abstract: To date, there is little research on therapist authentic expression with children. The closest explorations of this topic are studies conducted regarding therapist self-disclosure (Capobianco & Farber, 2005; Ginsberg, 2011). No published research has directly addressed the impact of expressing present thoughts, feelings, and body sensations in response to the child client’s stories and play. With new research on neurobiology, this article explores how therapist authentic expression in play therapy might be a helpful component in expanding the clients’ emotional windows of tolerance. Literature on pertinent aspects of self-disclosure, authenticity, and windows of tolerance is reviewed. This article introduces a study exploring the impact of therapist authentic expression on expanding a child’s emotional window of tolerance in Synergetic Play Therapy. Results indicated that there was a statistically significant increase in the percentage of emotionally tolerant behaviors in response to authentic therapist expressions from the first to third play therapy sessions. Also, the entire sample displayed full integration of emotions (100% emotionally tolerant behaviors) by their fifth session. Implications of these findings and for future research are outlined. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)

To read and purchase this article, please click here.