Synergetic Play Therapy™

“The synergy that emerges in the playroom when working from a Synergetic Play Therapy framework allows a deep level of attunement to emerge similar to the unspoken connection twins feel or the attunement that occurs between a caregiver and an infant.”
– Lisa Dion, LPC, RPT-S

Synergetics (a term coined by physicist Buckminster Fuller) is the study of systems in transformation, with an emphasis on total system behavior unpredicted by the behavior of any isolated components.

Synergetic Play Therapy honors both the therapeutic powers of play, the science that governs relationship, and the development of the therapist, recognizing that it is ultimately the interplay between these three systems that support deep transformation for both therapist and child.

The word itself is also reflective of what is happening in the playroom and how integration and healing occurs. As the therapist attunes to their own internal systems and then attunes to the internal systems of the child, a union of systems occurs. In this union, a synergy forms, allowing for co-regulation to emerge. The co-regulation supports both the therapist and the child in their ability to move towards the uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and body sensations that they would not have been able to move towards as easily on their own.

During this “synergy of systems”, therapist and child enter something akin to a “Synergetic field’ where right hemisphere to right hemisphere communication emerges, allowing for integration and transformation.

Curious? Check out the toggles on this page and the tabs in the sidebar to learn more about the history, philosophy, tenets, research, and training of SPT.

1. The therapist supports the child in changing his perceptions of the perceived challenging events and thoughts in his life.

2. Attunement between therapist and child is essential in order to heal disorganization in the lower brain stem and re-pattern their nervous system.

3. The therapist models self-regulation to the child, because children learn most through observation.

4. The therapist’s ability to use mindfulness to be congruent and authentic in her language and non-verbal signals allows the child to feel safe in the relationship and engage in reflective awareness.

5. The child’s symptoms are understood as symptoms of dys-regulated states of the nervous system.

6. The therapist is the most important toy in the playroom. Toys are used to help facilitate the relationship between the therapist and the child. In SPT’s truest form, toys and language are not required.

7. The therapist supports the child in getting in touch with her authentic self; who the child truly is rather than who she thinks she should be.

8. The synergy between the therapist’s authenticity, attunement, congruence, and nervous system regulation support the child in learning how to attach to self, the cornerstone of all healing.

9. The child projects his inner world onto the toys and therapist setting them up to experience his perception of what it feels like to be him.

“The very act of being an SPT therapist provides endless practice in congruence, authenticity, attunement, and nervous system regulation. It’s an ongoing practice, a way of being that improves my life every day.” – Jody Catlow, MA, NLC

“This experience was life-changing. It not only renewed my vigor for work with children, changed my perspective of what was possible during the play therapy process, but changed the way I viewed the world and my relationship with others.” – Jessica Kimak, LCSW

“The SPT advanced class has been a truly transformative experience! Lisa and Kathy created so much safety to fully be myself as they guided my process of learning and growth. Through this class, I have been able to integrate my experience and shift perceptions, which has allowed me to be more present with my clients.” – Kim Buller, LCSW, RPT-S

“It’s more than a play therapy practice, it’s a lifestyle. It’s a belief in self, so that I can model (to myself) holistic love and acceptance from the inside out. It is the gift of life. It is being in touch with myself so that I am available for myself (and other).”  –Sara Moore, MA, LPC, RPT

“Hands down, the best training I have been to. I have been to many good trainings, but really appreciated the individualized approach that was afforded by the small size. It was a rich learning experience.”  – Jennifer Errington, LISW-S, RPT

“I got so much out of this intensive – a greater sense of self and deeper awareness of my experience including bodily sensations, emotions and, most notably, how I am affected by my environment and letting that all in. It is an inspiration to be at the forefront of something amazing! I am so excited to have experienced such profound transformation in such a short amount of time and to be able to go out and share this with others. Thank you!”  – Chandra Lontz-Smith, MA, LPCC

“The education, supervision and support I am receiving through my training in Synergetic Play Therapy have been phenomenal. I am coming into myself as a therapist in new and amazing ways. And the shifts I am experiencing with my clients have been profound. To have permission to be authentic with myself and my clients is truly liberating, not just for me but for them, as well. With Lisa’s support and guidance, as well as the community of talented and mindful therapists at SPTI, I feel more confident and inspired in my work as a therapist than ever before.” –Sanam Pejuhesh, MA

“I feel like I have a framework for understanding what is happening in the play, and what is happening for me. I feel more confident in describing the therapy to parents and I believe that incorporating the modeling of self-regulation is an amazing skill to use with these kids when before I’ve felt lost and unsure of what to do in my sessions, other than track and reflect. I feel like we’re working together.” – Megan Vandersluys, M.Ed, CCC

“This course has given me insight into the entire process from the initial contact to working with clients and parents.” – Jessica Isbell, LPC, EdS, MS, NCC, RPT

“This course has changed my life. It has given me confidence in myself as a play therapist.” – Lauren Van Velson, LCSW

“This training made me feel comfortable and confident in my ability to use SPT in practice. I learned just as much about myself as I did about SPT. It was amazing to see my child transform in just a few sessions, and to see myself transform as well. I cannot adequately describe the value this training has had in my life both personally and professionally. I was deeply and profoundly changed by this experience and would encourage anyone in any kind of helping profession to consider taking this course.” – Michelle Wayman, MA

“This was a welcome change from the heaviness of my current Master’s program work. It was fun and I feel I learned more in this week’s work than I have in the 1 1/2 years of school I’ve completed.” – Ross Knode, MA

“The Intro to SPT class is the best counseling class I have ever taken.  There is no better training for counselors! I have a deeper understanding of the counseling process and how to help children in the playroom. It has given me a whole new perspective and changed my life both personally and professionally. Being authentic allows you to be free. There are just no words to describe it!” – Nancy Asher, LPC, RPT

“I was surprised how much personal growth I experienced during the intensive. The experience was certainly intense, but the experiential piece was of tremendous value and I appreciated the live support from behind the mirror. I felt completely free to be myself and share my vulnerable experience. I felt very understood in my own felt experience in the playroom and at the same time stretched to grow and deepen the process with the child.” – Abigail Esquivel, LCSW

“It was one of the most helpful play therapy theory classes I have ever taken.” – Natascha Lawrence, LPC

“The Intro to SPT course allowed me to explore myself as a clinician and gave me the confidence that I needed to work with children and parents. The information that I learned during this course is a wonderful first step in becoming certified as a synergetic play therapist. I would recommend it for anyone wanting a deeper understanding of themselves and the therapy process.” – Megan Owen, MEd

“‘OMG so so great’ is what I texted my counseling colleagues at home. It was mind-blowing how much I learned and felt comfortable in my practice. I loved Polly and Judy – they created a wonderful learning environment in which we were supportively affirmed and challenged.” – Barbara Currie, MA

“I love SPT! It feels so natural and helps me understand the challenges my clients are working on. I love using sand in play therapy. I love helping little ones learn to regulate. There is nothing like seeing a client move from the working stage to empowerment. It feels like this is what I was meant to do. Thank you!” – Lila Adams, LPC

“This course has had a significant and profound impact on the way I relate to others both professionally and personally. I have been able to extend my practice significantly and utilize the principles and practice in all aspects of my work in a management role. I feel my reflective capacity has increased and my ability to be centered and calm. My daughter and I connect on a level that we have not been able to before by engaging with her nervous system. I feel like I am being my authentic self and will be forever grateful.” – Monica Robertson, MA

“This course changed my whole perspective on play therapy, life, and myself. Not only do I have a more compassionate perception of my clients and myself as a therapist, but I have learned the science to support this shift in perception.” – Kimberly Dolan, LCSW

“Since learning SPT I have not had the thought, “What am I doing in here?” I feel like I have all the skills and knowledge to know exactly what I am doing in each session.” – Kellee Clark, MA

“I thoroughly enjoyed this class! I found it helpful to learn about how play looks with different developmental/emotional ages and I feel like it was the perfect set up for the 6-month course I am starting today with you! Also, a lovely reminder of how to use myself in the room as a means to co-regulate, etc.” – Tara Gosse, M.Ed., RCC

“This course completely revolutionized my approach to my relationship with children as well as with teens, adults, and even my family, friends, and self! It provided me with a hopeful, holistic perspective based on dignity and respect for the other person’s experience, as well as my own. No matter what modality or approach you use in your work and other human relationships, SPT will only enhance them.” – Denise Frank, MA

“This course inspired me to be more authentic and real with my clients, gave me permission to regulate myself during sessions and provided the foundational knowledge of why this is so crucial, and inspired me to go on to study further in the Certification program.” – Joann Lee Morris, LMFT

“SPT has changed my life in a profound way. It has taught me to think differently about how to support children, how to be in relationship and how to think more critically about the world around me. But the most profound learning from SPT has been about myself: That I have worth and that I can walk this planet being fearlessly authentic.” – Amy Bobb, MA

“When I first started my career working with children, a mentor told me warmth, empathy, and genuineness were the most important traits to convey. Those words stuck with me, but I didn’t hear them often over the nearly 30 years of work with children. That is until I found SPT. I have studied many types of play therapy and all have been helpful. However, SPT helped me come back to the foundation of being my authentic, genuine self. I feel “green” again, like that new counselor, full of curiosity. I look forward to continuing on my learning journey with SPT.” – Lora Schultz, LCSW, RPT-S

“SPT for me is the essence of being congruent and the ability to facilitate congruency for my client. SPT also strengthens in me the ability to have unconditional positive regard for myself and the client.” – Dina Amouzgar, MA, RCC

“It has changed the way I view my role as a play therapist. I see myself more as a tool in helping a child learn to work through their many experiences up until they come to therapy as well as learning to deal with any experience they meet in the future.” – Lindsey Holsten, LCSW, RPT, CADC

“I had the privilege of attending Lisa’s 2014 presentation at the CPT conference. Since then, I have wanted to learn more. I am grateful to have had this learning opportunity as I have gained insight into my own, my clients’ and their parents’ experiences and believe I have become a more effective healer. I also want to thank Adria for her gracious being, as she helped me to have the courage to go deeper.”– Stacy Hart, LPC

“Lisa interweaves science, vivid storytelling, and active demonstrations – making new concepts both tangible and easily applicable. My paradigms of attachment theory and play therapy have permanently transformed. I walked away from each workshop amazed at how much applicable knowledge I learned in only 3 hours.” – Kenzie Davidson, MA, BCBA

“This course was an outstanding introduction to the concepts and techniques of SPT.” – Cynthia Burton, MA

“This course left me wanting more. Amazing new insights.” – Arlene Holt, LPC

“I loved learning SPT with Lisa Dion. I graduated from the Somatic Counseling Program at Naropa and viewed this course as Somatic Counseling 2.0!” – Erin Flynn, MA

“I am an early childhood educator. This was the best social-emotional development course I have ever taken. It helped me to better understand children’s behaviors, support dysregulated children, and build a responsive, attuned, authentic relationship with the children in my care. It also helped me to learn skills for coping with my own moments of stress and dysregulation. The opportunity to discuss (and role play) challenging situations in my classroom was particularly helpful. It is a transformative experience. I cannot recommend it strongly enough.” – Abigail Miller, Head of School Bloom! Montessori

“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be here the last two weekends. I have learned so much from the presenters and from the child I worked with. Having a child to work with brought all of the information I was learning together for me.” – Becky Ochs, MA

“This was an amazing experience!!! So much experiential learning! I have never been in a therapy training that offered so much hands-on learning and self-reflection!” – David Kingman, MA

Synergetic Play Therapy™

The synergy that emerges in the playroom when working from a Synergetic Play Therapy framework allows a deep level of attunement to emerge similar to the unspoken connection twins feel or the attunement that occurs between a caregiver and an infant.”
– Lisa Dion, LPC, RPT-S

Synergetics (a term coined by physicist Buckminster Fuller) is the study of systems in transformation, with an emphasis on total system behavior unpredicted by the behavior of any isolated components.

Synergetic Play Therapy honors both the therapeutic powers of play, the science that governs relationship, and the development of the therapist, recognizing that it is ultimately the interplay between these three systems that support deep transformation for both therapist and child.

The word itself is also reflective of what is happening in the playroom and how integration and healing occurs. As the therapist attunes to their own internal systems and then attunes to the internal systems of the child, a union of systems occurs. In this union, a synergy forms, allowing for co-regulation to emerge. The co-regulation supports both the therapist and the child in their ability to move towards the uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and body sensations that they would not have been able to move towards as easily on their own.

During this “synergy of systems”, therapist and child enter something akin to a “Synergetic field’ where right hemisphere to right hemisphere communication emerges, allowing for integration and transformation.

Curious? Check out the toggles on this page and the tabs in the sidebar to learn more about the history, philosophy, tenets, research, and training of SPT.

1. The therapist supports the child in changing his perceptions of the perceived challenging events and thoughts in his life.

2. Attunement between therapist and child is essential in order to heal disorganization in the lower brain stem and re-pattern their nervous system.

3. The therapist models self-regulation to the child, because children learn most through observation.

4. The therapist’s ability to use mindfulness to be congruent and authentic in her language and non-verbal signals allows the child to feel safe in the relationship and engage in reflective awareness.

5. The child’s symptoms are understood as symptoms of dys-regulated states of the nervous system.

6. The therapist is the most important toy in the playroom. Toys are used to help facilitate the relationship between the therapist and the child. In SPT’s truest form, toys and language are not required.

7. The therapist supports the child in getting in touch with her authentic self; who the child truly is rather than who she thinks she should be.

8. The synergy between the therapist’s authenticity, attunement, congruence, and nervous system regulation support the child in learning how to attach to self, the cornerstone of all healing.

9. The child projects his inner world onto the toys and therapist setting them up to experience his perception of what it feels like to be him.

“The very act of being an SPT therapist provides endless practice in congruence, authenticity, attunement, and nervous system regulation. It’s an ongoing practice, a way of being that improves my life every day.” – Jody Catlow, MA, NLC

“This experience was life-changing. It not only renewed my vigor for work with children, changed my perspective of what was possible during the play therapy process, but changed the way I viewed the world and my relationship with others.” – Jessica Kimak, LCSW

“The SPT advanced class has been a truly transformative experience! Lisa and Kathy created so much safety to fully be myself as they guided my process of learning and growth. Through this class, I have been able to integrate my experience and shift perceptions, which has allowed me to be more present with my clients.” – Kim Buller, LCSW, RPT-S

“It’s more than a play therapy practice, it’s a lifestyle. It’s a belief in self, so that I can model (to myself) holistic love and acceptance from the inside out. It is the gift of life. It is being in touch with myself so that I am available for myself (and other).”  –Sara Moore, MA, LPC, RPT

“Hands down, the best training I have been to. I have been to many good trainings, but really appreciated the individualized approach that was afforded by the small size. It was a rich learning experience.”  – Jennifer Errington, LISW-S, RPT

“I got so much out of this intensive – a greater sense of self and deeper awareness of my experience including bodily sensations, emotions and, most notably, how I am affected by my environment and letting that all in. It is an inspiration to be at the forefront of something amazing! I am so excited to have experienced such profound transformation in such a short amount of time and to be able to go out and share this with others. Thank you!”  – Chandra Lontz-Smith, MA, LPCC

“The education, supervision and support I am receiving through my training in Synergetic Play Therapy have been phenomenal. I am coming into myself as a therapist in new and amazing ways. And the shifts I am experiencing with my clients have been profound. To have permission to be authentic with myself and my clients is truly liberating, not just for me but for them, as well. With Lisa’s support and guidance, as well as the community of talented and mindful therapists at SPTI, I feel more confident and inspired in my work as a therapist than ever before.” –Sanam Pejuhesh, MA

“I feel like I have a framework for understanding what is happening in the play, and what is happening for me. I feel more confident in describing the therapy to parents and I believe that incorporating the modeling of self-regulation is an amazing skill to use with these kids when before I’ve felt lost and unsure of what to do in my sessions, other than track and reflect. I feel like we’re working together.” – Megan Vandersluys, M.Ed, CCC

“This course has given me insight into the entire process from the initial contact to working with clients and parents.” – Jessica Isbell, LPC, EdS, MS, NCC, RPT

“This course has changed my life. It has given me confidence in myself as a play therapist.” – Lauren Van Velson, LCSW

“This training made me feel comfortable and confident in my ability to use SPT in practice. I learned just as much about myself as I did about SPT. It was amazing to see my child transform in just a few sessions, and to see myself transform as well. I cannot adequately describe the value this training has had in my life both personally and professionally. I was deeply and profoundly changed by this experience and would encourage anyone in any kind of helping profession to consider taking this course.” – Michelle Wayman, MA

“This was a welcome change from the heaviness of my current Master’s program work. It was fun and I feel I learned more in this week’s work than I have in the 1 1/2 years of school I’ve completed.” – Ross Knode, MA

“The Intro to SPT class is the best counseling class I have ever taken.  There is no better training for counselors! I have a deeper understanding of the counseling process and how to help children in the playroom. It has given me a whole new perspective and changed my life both personally and professionally. Being authentic allows you to be free. There are just no words to describe it!” – Nancy Asher, LPC, RPT

“I was surprised how much personal growth I experienced during the intensive. The experience was certainly intense, but the experiential piece was of tremendous value and I appreciated the live support from behind the mirror. I felt completely free to be myself and share my vulnerable experience. I felt very understood in my own felt experience in the playroom and at the same time stretched to grow and deepen the process with the child.” – Abigail Esquivel, LCSW

“It was one of the most helpful play therapy theory classes I have ever taken.” – Natascha Lawrence, LPC

“The Intro to SPT course allowed me to explore myself as a clinician and gave me the confidence that I needed to work with children and parents. The information that I learned during this course is a wonderful first step in becoming certified as a synergetic play therapist. I would recommend it for anyone wanting a deeper understanding of themselves and the therapy process.” – Megan Owen, MEd

“‘OMG so so great’ is what I texted my counseling colleagues at home. It was mind-blowing how much I learned and felt comfortable in my practice. I loved Polly and Judy – they created a wonderful learning environment in which we were supportively affirmed and challenged.” – Barbara Currie, MA

“I love SPT! It feels so natural and helps me understand the challenges my clients are working on. I love using sand in play therapy. I love helping little ones learn to regulate. There is nothing like seeing a client move from the working stage to empowerment. It feels like this is what I was meant to do. Thank you!” – Lila Adams, LPC

“This course has had a significant and profound impact on the way I relate to others both professionally and personally. I have been able to extend my practice significantly and utilize the principles and practice in all aspects of my work in a management role. I feel my reflective capacity has increased and my ability to be centered and calm. My daughter and I connect on a level that we have not been able to before by engaging with her nervous system. I feel like I am being my authentic self and will be forever grateful.” – Monica Robertson, MA

“This course changed my whole perspective on play therapy, life, and myself. Not only do I have a more compassionate perception of my clients and myself as a therapist, but I have learned the science to support this shift in perception.” – Kimberly Dolan, LCSW

“Since learning SPT I have not had the thought, “What am I doing in here?” I feel like I have all the skills and knowledge to know exactly what I am doing in each session.” – Kellee Clark, MA

“I thoroughly enjoyed this class! I found it helpful to learn about how play looks with different developmental/emotional ages and I feel like it was the perfect set up for the 6-month course I am starting today with you! Also, a lovely reminder of how to use myself in the room as a means to co-regulate, etc.” – Tara Gosse, M.Ed., RCC

“This course completely revolutionized my approach to my relationship with children as well as with teens, adults, and even my family, friends, and self! It provided me with a hopeful, holistic perspective based on dignity and respect for the other person’s experience, as well as my own. No matter what modality or approach you use in your work and other human relationships, SPT will only enhance them.” – Denise Frank, MA

“This course inspired me to be more authentic and real with my clients, gave me permission to regulate myself during sessions and provided the foundational knowledge of why this is so crucial, and inspired me to go on to study further in the Certification program.” – Joann Lee Morris, LMFT

“SPT has changed my life in a profound way. It has taught me to think differently about how to support children, how to be in relationship and how to think more critically about the world around me. But the most profound learning from SPT has been about myself: That I have worth and that I can walk this planet being fearlessly authentic.” – Amy Bobb, MA

“When I first started my career working with children, a mentor told me warmth, empathy, and genuineness were the most important traits to convey. Those words stuck with me, but I didn’t hear them often over the nearly 30 years of work with children. That is until I found SPT. I have studied many types of play therapy and all have been helpful. However, SPT helped me come back to the foundation of being my authentic, genuine self. I feel “green” again, like that new counselor, full of curiosity. I look forward to continuing on my learning journey with SPT.” – Lora Schultz, LCSW, RPT-S

“SPT for me is the essence of being congruent and the ability to facilitate congruency for my client. SPT also strengthens in me the ability to have unconditional positive regard for myself and the client.” – Dina Amouzgar, MA, RCC

“It has changed the way I view my role as a play therapist. I see myself more as a tool in helping a child learn to work through their many experiences up until they come to therapy as well as learning to deal with any experience they meet in the future.” – Lindsey Holsten, LCSW, RPT, CADC

“I had the privilege of attending Lisa’s 2014 presentation at the CPT conference. Since then, I have wanted to learn more. I am grateful to have had this learning opportunity as I have gained insight into my own, my clients’ and their parents’ experiences and believe I have become a more effective healer. I also want to thank Adria for her gracious being, as she helped me to have the courage to go deeper.”– Stacy Hart, LPC

“Lisa interweaves science, vivid storytelling, and active demonstrations – making new concepts both tangible and easily applicable. My paradigms of attachment theory and play therapy have permanently transformed. I walked away from each workshop amazed at how much applicable knowledge I learned in only 3 hours.” – Kenzie Davidson, MA, BCBA

“This course was an outstanding introduction to the concepts and techniques of SPT.” – Cynthia Burton, MA

“This course left me wanting more. Amazing new insights.” – Arlene Holt, LPC

“I loved learning SPT with Lisa Dion. I graduated from the Somatic Counseling Program at Naropa and viewed this course as Somatic Counseling 2.0!” – Erin Flynn, MA

“I am an early childhood educator. This was the best social-emotional development course I have ever taken. It helped me to better understand children’s behaviors, support dysregulated children, and build a responsive, attuned, authentic relationship with the children in my care. It also helped me to learn skills for coping with my own moments of stress and dysregulation. The opportunity to discuss (and role play) challenging situations in my classroom was particularly helpful. It is a transformative experience. I cannot recommend it strongly enough.” – Abigail Miller, Head of School Bloom! Montessori

“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be here the last two weekends. I have learned so much from the presenters and from the child I worked with. Having a child to work with brought all of the information I was learning together for me.” – Becky Ochs, MA

“This was an amazing experience!!! So much experiential learning! I have never been in a therapy training that offered so much hands-on learning and self-reflection!” – David Kingman, MA

“It’s more than a play therapy practice, it’s a lifestyle. It’s a belief in self, so that I can model (to myself) holistic love and acceptance from the inside out. It is the gift of life. It is being in touch with myself so that I am available for myself (and other).” 

–Sara Moore, MA, LPC, RPT

“It’s more than a play therapy practice, it’s a lifestyle. It’s a belief in self, so that I can model (to myself) holistic love and acceptance from the inside out. It is the gift of life. It is being in touch with myself so that I am available for myself (and other).” 

–Sara Moore, MA, LPC, RPT