Learn to Play Therapy – Part 1: Foundation (2 Day ONLINE Workshop) Wed 16 – Thur 17 February 2022

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Learn to Play Therapy – Part 1: Foundation (2 Day ONLINE Workshop) Wed 16 – Thur 17 February 2022

February 16, 2022 @ 9:00 am - February 17, 2022 @ 4:30 pm


Learn to Play Therapy: Part 1: Foundation (2 Day ONLINE Workshop)

Wed 16 – Thur 17 February 2022

9am – 4:30pm

Presented by Emeritus Professor Karen Stagnitti and Ms Belinda Dean


*Start and end times are in Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT) Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Canberra, UTC+11:00



Learn to Play Therapy aims to develop the capacity in children to spontaneously self-initiate their own pretend play. Being able to play is essential to children because through play children learn about themselves and their world. Pretend play is complex play and research evidence has shown that children who develop more complex levels of pretend play increase in their abilities in social competence, narrative language, language, self-regulation, creativity, and problem solving. Not all children develop complex levels of pretend play. Reasons for this can be the child’s diagnosis (for example, children on the autism spectrum have difficulty developing spontaneous pretend play), the child’s environment, or no obvious reason. Learn to Play Therapy is an evidence-based therapy for developing more complex levels of spontaneous pretend play in a child.*


The online training has 3 components:

  1. Pre-workshop activities that include pre-recordings of powerpoint presentations, relevant readings and TED talks.
  2. Two LIVE sessions
  3. The two LIVE morning sessions include a powerpoint presentation. Consolidation open sessions are scheduled in the afternoon to consolidate material from the pre-workshop activities, LIVE sessions and case studies, giving participants an opportunity to ask further questions and engage in discussion.


Day 1: LIVE session and Consolidation open session

  • Pretend play and links to language, narrative, social skills, self-regulation and self-esteem Play and the brain (pre-workshop activities)
  • The development of pretend play (LIVE session)
  • Assessment of pretend play using the Pretend Play Enjoyment Developmental Checklist (LIVE session)


Day 2: LIVE session and Consolidation open session

  • Identifying children who would benefit from Learn to Play Therapy
  • The process and principles of Learn to Play Therapy
  • How to build play ability in children who find playing difficult
  • 11 key play skills


The first LIVE session of this 2 day workshop provides participants with knowledge on the development of pretend play from 12 months to 5 years and how to use this knowledge as an assessment of a child’s play ability using the Pretend Play Enjoyment Developmental Checklist**. The pre-workshop activities include powerpoint recordings on the links between pretend play, theory of mind, narrative language and self-regulation and self-esteem are also discussed.


On the second LIVE session of this 2 day workshop focusses on the Learn to Play Therapy approach and participants are taken through the principles and process of this therapy, which includes 11 key play skills that are an essential part of a child’s ability to play. Also in this workshop are guidelines on how to identify children who would benefit from Learn to Play Therapy.


The workshop uses a mixture of information giving, case studies, video analysis and practice of the key skills involved in the process of Learn to Play Therapy. The practice is through break out rooms on Zoom, where the presenter and co-host move from ‘room’ to ‘room’. This workshop would be valuable to therapists, social workers, psychologists and early intervention workers who work with families with children under 8 years of age who have a developmental delay.


*The new Learn to Play book: Learn to Play Therapy: Principles, Process and Practical Activities was published in 2021. This 314 page book explains the theoretical underpinnings, principles and process as well as includes an additional 114 pages of play activities by developmental level. It comes with a USB that includes the play activities, parent handouts, and Play Background Checklist. This book is an essential reference source for Learn to Play Therapy.


**Feedback received from previous participants of this workshop have expressed it is helpful to have a copy of the Pretend Play Enjoyment Developmental Checklist (PPE-DC) during the workshop.

The Pretend Play Enjoyment Developmental Checklist (PPE-DC) is recommended if you wish to integrate play into your practice. So if your workplace does not have a copy of the Pretend Play Enjoyment Developmental Checklist (PPE-DC), you may be interested in purchasing it before you commence this ONLINE workshop.

More information about this resource and purchasing it, is on our website at the following links:

Pretend Play Enjoyment Developmental Checklist (PPE-DC) STARTER PACKAGE

Pretend Play Enjoyment Developmental Checklist (PPE-DC) MANUAL

PPE-DC Professional scoring booklet: Pack of 10

PPE-DC Parent/Carer Scoring Booklet: Pack of 10




Karen Stagnitti is Emeritus Professor in the School of Health and Social Development at Deakin University, Victoria, Australia. She is retired from full time teaching and research but continues to run workshops and write. She graduated with a Bachelor degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Queensland. For over 40 years she has mainly worked in early childhood intervention programs in community-based settings as part of a specialist paediatric multidisciplinary team. In 2003 she graduated from LaTrobe University with a Doctor of Philosophy. Her area of research is children’s play. Karen has over 125 publications, including journal articles, book chapters, and books. She has developed several play assessments including: Child- Initiated Pretend Play Assessment 2, the Pretend Play Enjoyment Developmental Checklist and the Animated Movie Test. From this research, Learn to Play Therapy was developed. Throughout the year, she is invited to present her work on the play ability of children nationally and internationally.



Ms Belinda Dean (BA, MA, RND1, RPT) is a qualified Registered Nurse, Registered Play Therapist and Lecturer in Child Play Therapy at Deakin University. Belinda has over 20 years’ experience in the healthcare field with a focus on Child and Adolescent Health & Development, Mental Health, Community and Family Health. Belinda holds a Master’s Degree in Child Play Therapy and supervises postgraduate Child Play Therapy students at Deakin University. Belinda is the director of Light Heart Play Therapy and a practicing play therapist.

Belinda is passionate about play based models particularly Learn to Play to promote early intervention of biopsychosocial health through play therapy. Belinda’s main areas of research are play based social skill programs to support neuro-diverse adolescents, integrating therapeutic play into nursing and allied health practice and play based andragogy.

Belinda is a past facilitator of the Imagine, Create, Belong program and is a co-author of Storying Beyond Social Difficulties with Neuro-Diverse Adolescents and related published peer reviewed papers. Belinda has presented nationally on this research. Belinda has co-published papers in the Journal of Play in Adulthood: Dean and Parson, Integrating play-based approaches into nursing education: Teachers as playful academics and has a book currently approved for publication in Springer Nature: Parson, Dean and Hadiprodjo, Integrating therapeutic play into nursing and allied health care: A developmentally sensitive approach to communicating with children. Belinda is the co-founder of Light Heart Publishing and Play Based Learning Pty Ltd.


February 16, 2022 @ 9:00 am
February 17, 2022 @ 4:30 pm


Learn to Play


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Learn to Play Therapy - Part 1: Foundation (2 Day ONLINE Workshop) Wed 16 - Thur 17 Feb 2022
$ 695.00 GST incl
28 available

15% Group Discount
Organisations sending 5 or more staff members to the same workshop are entitled to a 15% discount off the total price. To apply for the discount please email Jessica directly at learntoplayevents@gmail.com.

Cancellation and refund policy
Please notify Jessica of any cancellations by email: learntoplayevents@gmail.com.
To receive a full refund please advise your cancellation 8 or more days prior to the commencement of the workshop.
Cancellations made within 7 days prior to the commencement of the workshop will be refunded 50% of the original workshop fee paid.
No refunds will be issued for cancellations made within 48 hours before the commencement of the workshop.
Learn to Play reserves the right to cancel the workshop and issue a full refund of the workshop fee to registrant.