Yellow Stream: Certificate in Attachment-Based Play Therapy

yellow streamSpecial Interest & Advanced Practitioner

This certificate program can be taken as a stand-alone specialized training for those wishing to explore this play intervention/modality. A Master’s degree in the mental health field (or enrollment in a mental health related Masters degree program) is required. Due to the focus on specific techniques, as applied to special population/referral issues, as well as a developmental approach (understanding developmental stages as represented in play), previous training in play therapy is recommended.

The Certificate in Attachment-Based Play Therapy program offers 21 contact hours of  play therapy training. This certificate program is part of RMPTI’s fully integrated training program continuum, as it builds on the integrative approach to play therapy introduced in the Foundation for Play Therapy: Green Stream, with an emphasis on theory, techniques and applications to specific referral issues.

The program focuses on specific topics and techniques related to attachment theory, including assessment and engagement protocols and relationship-enhancement interventions. As an organizing framework, participants will be introduced to the “Brightening the Relationship” model developed by RMPTI. Through detailed case examples participants will learn about screening/assessment activities as well as case conceptualization and treatment planning strategies.

This training may only be used for continuing education purposes and cannot be used for certification purposes towards CPT or RPT credentials. APT and CAPT alone hold the right to accept or deny any continuing education training at their discretion.


For full details please refer to the application form. To access program dates see the training calendar.

Cancellation policy

Program Goals

The primary goals of this program are to enhance therapist awareness of clinical judgment in selecting, tailoring and implementing relationship-enhancement treatment activities, particularly the therapist’s role in vitalizing attunement and methods of conceptualizing and working with adult/child attachment issues. Case vignettes are used to foster case conceptualization and treatment planning skills.

Recommended Readings

Hughes, D.A. (1997). Facilitating developmental attachment; The road to emotional recovery and behavioral change in foster and adopted children. Jason Aronson Inc, Northvale, NJ.

Levy, T. M. (Ed) (2000). Handbook of attachment interventions. Academic Press, San Diego, California.

Ainsworth, M.S. (1989). Attachments beyond infancy. American Psychologist. 44(4), 709-16.

Bratton, S., Landreth, G., & Lin, Y. (2010). Child parent relationship therapy: A review of controlled outcome research. In J.N. Baggerly, D.C. Ray & S.C. Bratton (eds.), Child-centered play therapy research: The evidence base for effective practice (pp. 267-293). New York, NY: Wiley.

Benedict, H.E. (2006). Object relations play therapy: Applications to attachment problems and relational trauma. In C. Schaefer, & H. Kaduson (eds), Contemporary play therapy: Therapy, research, and practice (2nd edn, pp. 3-27). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Booth, P.B. (2016). Theraplay@: Creating secure and joyful attachment relationships. In O’Connor K.J., Schaefer, C.E., and Braverman, L.D. (eds), Handbook of play therapy. (2nd edn, pp 165-193). Hoboken, NJ, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Booth, P., & Jernberg, A. (2010). Theraplay: Helping parents and children build better relationships through attachments-based play. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Bowlby, J. (1982). Attachment and loss volume 1. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Bowlby. J. (1988). A secure base: Parent-child attachment and healthy human development. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Cassidy, J., & Shaver, P.R. (2008). Handbook of attachment: Theory, research, and clinical applications (2nd edn). New York, NY: Guildford Press.

Crenshaw, D.A. (2014). Play therapy approaches to attachment issues. In Malchiodi and Crenshaw, D.A. (eds), Creative arts and play therapy for attachment problems (pp 19-35). New York, NY: Guilford.

Grossman, K, Grossman K., & Waters, E (2005). Attachment from infancy to adulthood: The major longitudinal studies. New York, NY: Guilford.

Guerney, L.F. (2003). The history, principles, and empirical basis of Filial Therapy. In R. VanFleet & L.F. Guerney (eds), Casebook of Filial Therapy (pp. 1-19). Boiling Springs, PA: Play Therapy Press.

Hughes, D.A. (2017). Building the bonds of attachment: Awakening love in deeply traumatized children. New York: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.

Landreth, G, & Bratton, S. (2006). Child parent relationship therapy (CPRT): A 10 session filial therapy model. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

Main, M. (2000). The organized categories of infant, child, and adult attachment: Flexible vs. inflexible attention under attachment-related stress. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. (48) (4), 1055-1096.

Munns, E. (2003). Theraplay: Attachment enhancing play therapy. In C. Schaefer (ed.), Foundations of play therapy (pp 156-174). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley  & Sons.

Munns, E. (2013). Theraplay: Innovations in attachment-enhancing play therapy. Lanham, Maryland, Jason Aronson, Inc.

O’Connor, T.G., & Zenah, C.H. (2003). Attachment disorders: assessment strategies and treatment approaches. Attachment and Human Development, 5(3), 223-244.

Opiola, K.K. & Bratton, S.C. (2018). The efficacy of Child Parent Relationship Therapy for adoptive families: A replication study.  Journal of Counseling & Development. 96 (2) 155-166.

Patton, S.C., and Benedict, H.E. (2015). Play therapy with children with attachment problems. In O’Connor K.J, Schaefer, C.E., and Braverman, L.D. (eds), Handbook of play therapy (pp 381-395). New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Powell. B., Cooper, G. Hoffman, K., & Marvin, B.  (2014). The circle of security intervention: Enhancing attachment in early parent-child relationships. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Ryan, V. (2004). Adapting non-directive play therapy for children with attachment disorders. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 9 (1), 75-87.

VanFleet, R. (2013). Filial Therapy: Strengthening parent-child relationships through play (3rd edn). Sarasota, FL: Professional Resources Press.

Weir, K.N. (2008). Using integrative play therapy with adoptive families to treat reactive attachment disorder: A case example. Journal of Family Psychotherapy. 18 (4), 1-16.

Whelan, W., & Stewart, A. (2015). Attachment security as a framework in play therapy. In D. Crenshaw & A. Stewart (eds.). Play therapy: A comprehensive guide to theory and practice (pp 114-128). New York, NY: Guilford.

Program Outline

Day 1

  • Identification of Primary Attachment Domains
  • Co-Regulation and the Psychobiology of Attachment
  • Consideration of the Adult/Caregiver Attachment Organization
  • Filial Play Therapy
  • Case Consultation

Day 2

  • Attachment through Middle Childhood
  • Theraplay
  • Theraplay Activities
  • Case Conceptualization

Day 3

  • Playtime Exercise
  • Introduction to Case: Attachment Script Interview
  • Video – Play-based Parent/Child Observation
  • Video – Relationship Dimensions Interview –Rate results
  • Phases of treatment – Slides
  • Introduction to: “Brightening the Relationship”
  • Designing play-based activities
  • Case Consultation
  • Closing questions / discussion


Learning Objectives

To introduce practitioners to a dynamic play-based process for conceptualizing and intervening on relational issues. To provide the practitioner with a comprehensive and sound screening-assessment approach, linking play-based interventions to relational needs and issues.

Upon successful completion of the course each participant will be able to:

  • Demonstrate theoretical knowledge of attachment organization and how it surfaces in the attachment behaviors and sequences of children in play therapy
  • Describe the primary relational domains in attachment-based play therapy
  • Discuss the impact of relational trauma and the role of the adult attachment system in parent-child work in the play therapy setting
  • Discuss screening-assessment strategies, including parent script interviews and parent-child observations in attachment-based play therapy
  • Describe how to engage parents in the treatment process in the play therapy setting
  • List the critical factors in treatment planning and the stages of treatment in attachment-based play therapy
  • Describe how to monitor treatment outcomes and provide feedback to parents and third parties in play-based therapy
  • Describe how to adapt play-based interventions for specific referral issues in attachment related work in the play therapy setting


  • Experiential learning activities
  • Video clips
  • Case vignettes/examples
  • A competency based role play demonstrations
  • Process journal


Participants will receive a Certificate confirming the completion of 21 hours of specialized play therapy training (APT Approved Provider 06-179; CAPT 09-104). This training may only be used for continuing education purposes and cannot be used for certification purposes towards CAPT or RPT credentials. APT and CAPT alone hold the right to accept or deny any continuing education training at their discretion.

The certificate will be awarded on the basis of:

  • Satisfactory attendance (no whole module may be missed unless there are extenuating circumstances. A makeup assignment may be requested depending on time missed).