Dee Ray

Dee Ray

The annual University of Arkansas play therapy conference offers training not only for students majoring in counseling and counseling practitioners but would be appropriate for students studying psychology, social work and nursing, said organizer Kristi Perryman.
Perryman, an assistant professor of counselor education in the College of Education and Health Professions, created the Office of Play Therapy Research and Training in March 2015. This will be the second year for the annual two-day conference that offers students and professional mental health practitioners the opportunity to gain 12 continuing education units toward becoming a registered play therapist or certified child-parent relationship therapy trainer.

Because children develop cognitively before they develop verbally, play therapy allows them to express themselves through play in a safe environment, Perryman said. The counselor gets on the child’s level and watches for themes in their playing that could indicate a problem, she said.

Dee Ray will present “Advanced Play Therapy Methods for Understanding and Treating Challenging Children” on June 24 and 25 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 224 N. East Ave., Fayetteville. Ray teaches in the counseling program and directs the Child and Family Resource Clinic at the University of North Texas.

Ray has published more than 100 articles, chapters and books in the field of play therapy, specializing in research specifically examining the process and effects of child-centered play therapy. She is the author of A Therapist’s Guide to Development: The Extraordinarily Normal YearsAdvanced Play Therapy: Essential Conditions, Knowledge, and Skills for Child PracticeChild Centered Play Therapy Treatment Manual, and co-author of Group Play Therapy and Child Centered Play Therapy Research.

She edits the Journal of Child and Adolescent Counseling and is a former editor of the International Journal of Play Therapy. She is a founding board member and past president of the Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling. She was noted as one of the Top 25 Women Professors in Texas and the recipient of the Association of Humanistic Counseling Educator Award, Texas Outstanding Counselor Educator Award, Outstanding Research Award for Association for Play Therapy, Outstanding Research Award for Texas Counseling Association, and Nancy Guillory Award for Outstanding Service and Contribution to the Field of Play Therapy from the Texas Association for Play Therapy.

Ray’s presentation will focus on children with severe behavioral problems, children with attachment disruptions, children who have experienced abuse and trauma, and children on the brink of institutionalization.

“These are our toughest case and the ones for which we have few answers and effective interventions,” she said.

Conference participants will learn:

  • Six conditions necessary for effective play therapy.
  • At least three points of rationale for using play therapy with severe issues.
  • How to measure play therapy effectiveness through worksheets.
  • How to respond to children during play therapy sessions using themes.
  • A consultation model for use with parents.

The conference begins with check-in at 8 a.m. on June 24 and goes until 4 p.m. each day.