How to Get Unstuck in Play Therapy

In today's episode, I want to address the elephant in the room for many play therapists, especially those new to the field or even those who have been practicing for a while but feel lost. Feeling stuck in play therapy is a common experience, and recognizing it is the first step to overcoming it.

Signs You're Feeling Stuck

  1. Worrying About Effectiveness: Constantly questioning if your interventions are working can lead to anxiety and insecurity about your skills.
  2. Client Engagement Issues: If clients ask when the session is over, it may indicate they're not engaged.
  3. Imposter Syndrome: Feeling like you're the worst play therapist and doubting your abilities can be a clear sign you're stuck.
  4. Parent Communication Anxiety: Avoiding conversations with parents about the progress of their child’s therapy due to fear they won't understand or will pull their child from therapy.

Why Play Therapists Get Stuck

  1. Lack of Model Adherence: Not sticking to your play therapy model can lead to inconsistent and ineffective interventions.
  2. Inadequate Initial Assessment: Failing to conduct a thorough psychosocial assessment can leave you without a clear understanding of the client's issues.
  3. Complex Family Systems: High acuity families with generational trauma or other issues can pull you into their maladaptive patterns.

Tips for Getting Unstuck

  1. Take a Step Back: Clear your head and take a breath. Mindfulness and self-care are crucial.
  2. Revisit Your Case Conceptualization and Treatment Plan: Go back to your initial assessments and plans to reorient yourself. Make necessary adjustments based on new information.
  3. Consult with Colleagues or Supervisors: Getting an outside perspective can provide new insights and strategies.
  4. Stick to Your Model: Trust in your theoretical model and follow it through all stages of the change process.

Addressing High Acuity Family Systems

Recognize when you've been pulled into maladaptive family patterns. Use your case conceptualization and treatment plan to navigate these challenges effectively. Remember, your therapeutic relationship is the glue that holds the process together.


Feeling stuck is a common experience for play therapists, but with the right strategies, you can overcome it. If you're interested in further resources, consider looking into courses on case conceptualization and treatment planning, which provide step-by-step guidance and practical tools to help you get back on track.

For those interested in further education, I offer online courses on various aspects of play therapy, including case conceptualization, treatment planning, and progress notes. These courses are designed to help you deepen your understanding and improve your practice. Visit RH Play Therapy Training for more details.

Categories: : Assessment, Case Conceptualization, Expressive Arts, Play Therapy, Play Therapy Model, Podcast, treatmet plan