5.00 CE Credits Available
Neurodiversity-Affirming Play Therapy with Children and Teens
by Robert Jason Grant
There is growing awareness that the traditional deficit-based therapeutic mindset that pathologizes neurological differences such as autism and ADHD often lead to poor mental health outcomes. Learn how to help young neurodivergent clients thrive by using neurodiversity-affirming play practices that build therapeutic connection and emphasize collaboration and validation. Empower neurodivergent children and teens with play interventions tailored to support their unique needs and celebrate their strengths all while having fun. 
Neurodivergent children and teens can challenge clinicians’ preconceived notions of what is “normal” and how to best address needs. This is especially the case when autism and ADHD diagnoses dominate their clinical focus, and therapeutic goals are defined not by the clients but by the authority figures in their lives. In this cutting-edge video, renowned child therapist Robert Jason Grant first creates a foundation for understanding his neuroaffirming model of play therapy, and then brings these principles to life in a series of creative play interventions featuring four different children, each with unique needs and interests. The demonstrations are grouped into four common areas of clinical focus — sensory/regulation, emotional identification, identity awareness and social navigation — and bookended with rich discussions about the interventions themselves as well as the overall principles of acceptance and respect that guide Grant’s work. You’ll see how shifting the clinical focus to the therapeutic relationship reveals each child’s unique preferences, goals and strengths which can serve as a foundation for providing meaningful support.

Grant demonstrates how play therapy can be adapted to meet neurodivergent youth where they are and connect with them in a way that respects their individual needs and abilities. By watching Grant at work and then discussing his process and techniques with Psychotherapy.net’s Editor, Lawrence Rubin, you’ll learn how to harness the power of play in a way that affirms your young clients’ personality styles and collaborate with caregivers to support clinical and developmental needs beyond the therapy room. You’ll gain confidence in individualizing therapy sessions for neurodivergent children, offering tools they can use to better navigate their worlds, and developing strategies for attaining their goals.  

What therapists are saying…

“Neurodiversity-Affirming Play Therapy for Children and Teens is an exceptionally clear and engaging course, effortlessly guiding viewers through the intricacies of the neurodiversity paradigm. Dr. Robert Jason Grant articulates crucial concepts in a manner that's easy to understand, emphasizing the significance of embracing diverse social navigation, identity awareness, emotion recognition, and regulation. The video insightfully explores how play therapy for neurodivergent children should be adapted to affirm neurodiversity, underscoring the importance of theoretical understanding and practical adjustments.”
— Jessica Stone, PHD, Co-Founder and CEO of Virtual Sandtray, LLC
“I highly recommend Neurodiversity-Affirming Play Therapy for Children and Teens! This is a must-have resource for clinicians working with this population as well as for clinical supervisors preparing the next generation of play therapists. This resource clearly demonstrates the power of play and connection in creating adaptation and flexibility for neurodiverse populations and shows key steps in how this is accomplished.”
— Dr. Kevin B. Hull, PhD, Registered Play Therapist and Professor, Liberty University
“Dr. Robert Jason Grant does an amazing job navigating the intricacies of what it means to be a neurodiversity-affirming therapist. Dr. Grant eloquently describes the considerations a therapist must give when molding the intervention to fit each unique child’s sensory, social, and emotional needs. This course is great for therapists, students, and professors who want to learn more about specific interventions for supporting neurodivergent children that focus on therapeutic connection, collaboration, and validation.”
— Katie Bassiri, LPCC, Owner, The Treehouse
In Depth
CE Test
Grant makes the compelling case for reframing and replacing a reductionistic pathology orientation with a neurodivergent-affirming one that effectively and respectfully serves the needs of ADHD, autistic and other neurodivergent children and teens, while collaborating with parents and teachers to offer resources and strategies they can use outside the playroom. By watching Grant work, you will learn to conceptualize counseling theories of play therapy through a neurodiversity-informed lens, transition from a top-down orientation to a collaborative and empowering one, and gain the confidence and skills needed to move your young clients forward on their developmental journeys.

Grounded firmly in both research and Grant’s wealth of clinical experience, the interventions demonstrated are tailored to primarily support common developmental and clinical needs that therapists are likely to encounter. And, while they often touch upon a myriad of benefits, the interventions are grouped into the following areas of focus:

Regulation/Sensory Integration: Helping clients understand their sensory and regulatory systems, finding play practices that help them self-regulate and collaborating with the adults in their lives to provide opportunities for coregulation

Emotional Identification: Assessing clients’ abilities to identify their emotions, validate the ways in which they experience their emotions, and developing tools for communicating with others about their feelings

Identity Awareness: Nurturing clients’ understanding of themselves as neurodivergent individuals through strengths-based play and language that builds self-worth

Social Navigation: Working with clients to identify their social goals and tailoring play to help them succeed, as well as supporting needs that might exist around safety and self-advocacy in a neuro-normative world

If your clinical work has been centered around deficit-based diagnoses such as ADHD or Autism Spectrum Disorder or you have not used play in your therapy with children and teens, this online course will expand your understanding of neurodivergence, introducing you to play therapy in general and neurodiversity-affirming play practices in particular. The videos in this online course demonstrate identity-affirming, strengths-based interventions that both client and therapist alike will enjoy, as well as techniques for including family members and teachers in the play therapy process, suggestions for using identity-affirming language, and tips on advocacy skills for neurodivergent individuals. Discover how to provide respectful, compassionate support for young neurodivergent clients who are often presented with an emphasis on what adults in their lives identify as oppositional behavioral, emotional problems or social ineptitudes.

So, grab a tube of bubbles and join Robert Jason Grant as you expand your clinical repertoire to make a difference in the lives of neurodivergent children, teens and their families.  

Length of video: 4:52:16

English subtitles available

Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-713-3

Group ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-713-1

Robert Jason Grant, EdD, is the creator of AutPlay® Therapy, an integrative family play therapy framework designed to help address the mental health needs of neurodivergent children and adolescents. Grant utilizes years of advanced training and his own lived neurodivergent experience to provide affirming services to children and their families and to create training programs for professionals and caregivers. In 2017, Dr. Grant was presented with the APT Service Award by the National Association for Play Therapy and the Play Therapist of the Year award in 2015 by the Missouri Association for Play Therapy. He is currently serving as past chair on the board of directors for the Association for Play Therapy and as a board member for the Digital Play Therapy program. He is also a part time instructor in the Play Therapy Certificate program at Mid America Nazarene University (MNU).  

CE credits: 5

Learning Objectives:

  • Apply an affirming lens when working with neurodivergent children and teens
  • When appropriate, design treatment plans that incorporate directive play interventions working with neurodivergent clients
  • Evaluate play interventions and when needed, adapt them to best support the individual needs of neurodivergent clients

Bibliography available upon request

This course is offered for ASWB ACE credit for social workers. See complete list of CE approvals here

© 2024

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