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Using Group Theraplay as a Play Therapy Bridge for Fragile Families: An Application in Homeless Services

July 30, 2020 @ 9:00 am - 11:15 am CDT

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2 CEs
CEs only available for practitioners in the US
This live webinar will be recorded

Using Group Theraplay as a Play Therapy Bridge for Fragile Families: An Application in Homeless Services

Presented by Joanna Fortune, MICP; MIFPP; CTTTS; Reg Pract APPI; Ap Sup PTI

This workshop will examine how Group Theraplay can benefit families in crisis, families displaced, and in transient or emergency accommodation. Joanna Fortune will explore her hypothesis of Group Theraplay providing a secure play therapy space for families experiencing an absence of a secure base. Not being able to provide a home – a literal secure base – for a child is deeply disempowering and undermining for the parent. Homelessness is a trauma and by using the Group Theraplay model in a number of distinct ways we can create those opportunities for shared joy, moments of meeting and foster predictability. This creates the security needed to develop a stronger sense of inner-state felt safety in the parent-child relationship. The model uses an open-group format whereby the group play therapy sessions run a set time weekly but the participants of the group change based on who needs access (this attends to the transient nature of how services are accessed). Joanna will discuss how to use a 12-week long focus group for families who experience long-term homelessness. Because 11% of Irish homeless families become homeless at the point of family formation, discussion will include a 6-8 week parent-infant play therapy group to strengthen and enhance relationships at their starting point. Discussion will address the challenges of program planning, staff training, and considerations for modifying the play therapy model to meet changing needs.


  • Describe how Group Theraplay play therapy fits within a frontline trauma-based sector that encompasses many individual services
  • Apply a template for replicating this specially modified model, based upon play therapy principles, in their own areas
  • Differentiate between a focused closed Group Theraplay model and an open rolling play therapy group that parent-child dyads can access on a more casual basis


Joanna Fortune is a Clinical Psychotherapist and Attachment specialist specialising in child and adolescent Psychotherapy with over 15 years experience working with children and families. She has been a Supervisor with Play Therapy International for over 7 years. She is also a Theraplay Practitioner, trainer and supervisor (World Theraplay Institute) and has trained in all areas of attachment work including SSAP (Story Stem Assessment Profile)/CAI (Child Attachment Interview)/MBT (Mentalisation Based Therapy) with the Anna Freud Centre. Joanna has completed an 18 month infant observation program. Joanna was previously a member of a child psychoanalysis clinical supervision group with members of Espace Analytique from Paris. She is a guest speaker and regular media contributor in the field of child development and psychology. Joanna has seen the benefit of early intervention and loves working with children and teens where she strongly believes small changes can make a big difference in young lives. Her practice and philosophy is based on the premise of less tears and more laughter. Joanna believes that parents are the experts in their own children and works in a dyadic way with parents and young children together in sessions.


Geller, Shari M.,Porges, Stephen W. (2014). Therapeutic presence: Neurophysiological mechanisms mediating feeling safe in therapeutic relationships. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, Vol 24(3), 178-192

Porges, S. (2015). Making the World Safe for our Children: Down-regulating Defence and Up-regulating Social Engagement to ‘Optimise’ the Human Experience. Children Australia, 40(2), 114-123. doi:10.1017/cha.2015.12

Tucker, C. & Schieffer, K. (Spring, 2017). Enhancing Social-Emotional Skills in At-risk Preschool Students Through Theraplay Based Groups: The Sunshine Circle Model. International Journal of Play Therapy.

Tucker, C. & Smith, S. (2018), Using Play to Enhance Growth in Children who have Experienced Trauma: Theraplay Groups as Early Intervention., Young Exceptional Children Monograph, #17 Maltreatment and Toxic Stress, 72-81


9:00-9:30 Overview of homeless sector in Ireland with country comparisons
9:30-9:45 Breakdown of stakeholders and initial presentation
9:45-10:00 Modifications to 2-day Group Theraplay curriculum
10:00-10:15 Break
10:15-10:45 Program roll out, examples of sessions, outcomes, lessons learned
10:45-11:15 Q&A

There is no conflict of interest or commercial support for this program.

This is a non-contact live virtual webinar.

Visit our FAQs here for cancellation policies

Download CE information here

For those seeking CEs, participants will receive an email from R. Cassidy Seminars within a few days of the conclusion of the Summer Learning Institute. Upon completion of the course evaluation, the certificate of completion will be made available.


July 30, 2020
9:00 am - 11:15 am CDT
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