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Loyola University New Orleans Play Therapy Center Takes The Spotlight During National Play Therapy Week

Loyola press release - February 3, 2017

Statewide conference for play therapists held at Loyola

The Loyola University New Orleans Play Therapy Center of Education and Research co-hosts a statewide conference next week. The conference, which runs Friday and Saturday, Feb. 10-11, 2017, puts Loyola in the spotlight during National Play Therapy Week, which runs Feb. 5-11, 2017.

Entitled “The Many Faces of Play Therapy,” the 2017 Louisiana Association Play Therapy Conference is designed to promote the understanding and value of play therapy and advance high standards of professional and ethical practice. Registered play therapist supervisor Jeff Ashby, Ph.D., ABPP, will serve as keynote speaker and deliver a talk on Friday regarding childhood anxiety and ethics. On Saturday, registered play therapist-supervisor Terry Kottman, Ph.D., NCC, LMHC, will give a keynote speech on Adlerian Play Therapy, reviewing how play therapists can assesses the child’s family life, as well as family communication patterns to help families address trauma, childhood disorders, and other issues.

Surrounded by mental health professionals, Loyola counseling students Sean Brite, Patricia Hickman, Catherine Scully, and Ashley Lopez will deliver research based poster presentations.

“The Loyola University New Orleans Play Therapy Center of Education and Research is Louisiana’s premier location offering play therapy education for professionals, as well as children, families, and caregivers, and we look forward to welcoming new professionals to the field,” said LeAnne Steen, director of the center. “Jess Ashby and Terry Kottman are both leaders in their respective areas of the play therapy field, and we are looking forward to their invigorating discussion here at Loyola.”

The Loyola University New Orleans Play Therapy Center of Education and Research, founded by Steen in 2008, is the only center of its kind in Louisiana. It is the third play therapy center in the U.S. to be officially recognized and is one of fewer than 30 such centers in the nation. In May 2016, the center again received three-year designation as an Approved Center of Play Therapy Education from the national Association for Play Therapy (APT). Approximately 16 percent of accredited colleges and universities today offer play therapy instruction and supervised clinical experiences. An endowment received last spring from The Heebe Family Fund both ensures a lasting legacy for the center at Loyola and opened up news opportunities for healthcare professionals, especially mental health counselors focused on families struggling with life- threatening illnesses, such as cancer.

Play therapy is a form of mental health counseling or psychotherapy by which licensed mental health professionals incorporate the use of play to better communicate with and help clients achieve optimal mental health. Play therapists are trained in play therapy philosophy, theory, and facilitation. Mental health agencies, schools, hospitals, and private practitioners use play therapy as a primary intervention or as supportive therapy for children and families struggling with transitional life adjustments, emotional difficulties, behavioral problems, or disorders.

The conference next week at Loyola is an opportunity for mental health professionals to stay informed of current research findings, an imperative in the counseling field, Steen said. By staying abreast of the most recent trends and techniques in healthcare, professionals can modify their methods to better aid their patients.

Steen is the editor of “Emerging Research in Play Therapy, Child Counseling, and Consultation,” a critical resource that examines the most current methodologies and treatments in child therapy and addresses relevant topics such as behavioral concerns, childhood anxiety, and child counseling services. The newly released book addresses academic areas including: Neurobiological benefits of play therapy, behavioral issues, childhood anxiety, chronic and terminal illnesses, consultations, ethical counseling, expressive arts, and supervision models.

“Our new continuing education program, continued training, and conferences allow the play therapy center to pollinate the region with professionals who know how to respond to children and families in crisis, especially those crisis’ related to life-threatening illness and the influence within the family system,” Steen said. “Each trained professional will translate into literally hundreds of families and children affected by that individual.”