Learn to Play Therapy: Theory, Principles and Process (3 Day ONLINE Workshop) April 2023

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Learn to Play Therapy: Theory, Principles and Process (3 Day ONLINE Workshop) April 2023

April 5, 2023 @ 7:00 am - April 7, 2023 @ 1:00 pm


Learn to Play Therapy: Theory, Principles and Process (3 Day ONLINE Workshop)

Presented by Emeritus Professor Karen Stagnitti


Calgary, Canada Time: 4, 5, 6 April 2023, from 3pm to 9pm.

Australian Eastern Standard Time (UTC+10:00): 5, 6, 7 April 2023, from 7am to 1pm



This workshop is designed to meet the needs of therapists abroad, and in Australia, by combining Part 1 and Part 2 training, scheduled at times to accomodation therapists abroad.


Participants are encouraged to purchase the Pretend Play Enjoyment Developmental Checklist (PPE-DC) before commencing the workshop. International orders please contact Jessica at learntoplayevents@gmail.com for a shipping quote.


The PPE-DC is sold with the following options:

Starter pack


PPE-DC Professional scoring booklet: Pack of 10

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



About the workshop

Learn to Play Therapy aims to develop the capacity in children to spontaneously self-initiate their own pretend play. Being able to pretend in play enables a child to play in the metaphor and through play they 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, 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. The powerpoint presentations provide background on why pretend play links to language, narrative, social skills, self-regulation and pretend play and the brain.
  2. Powerpoint presentations
  3. The sessions include information giving and consolidation of material through case studies, videos, and practical activities giving participants an opportunity to ask further questions and engage in discussion.


Day 1:

  • Why pretend play is important to consider when working with children
  • The development of pretend play
  • Assessment of pretend play using the Pretend Play Enjoyment Developmental Checklist (PPE-DC)


Day 2:

  • Identifying children who would benefit from Learn to Play Therapy
  • The theoretical underpinnings of Learn to Play Therapy
  • Process and principles of Learn to Play Therapy
  • Creating a feeling of safety and therapeutic presence in Learn to Play Therapy


Day 3

  • A clinical framework
  • Techniques on how to build play ability in children who find playing difficult
  • Working with parents – 11 key play skills
  • Working with older children aged 7 to 10 years


The first day of this 3 day workshop provides participants with knowledge on the development of pretend play from 12 months to 5 years and how to use this knowledge in an assessment of a child’s play ability using the Pretend Play Enjoyment Developmental Checklist, second edition.


The second day of this 3 day workshop focusses on Learn to Play Therapy and participants are taken through the underlying theory, principles and process of this therapy. In this workshop creating a feeling of safety in the playroom is discussed with reference to Porges Polyvagal theory. The application of this knowledge to Learn to Play Therapy is then demonstrated and discussed for children who find it difficult to play. This day also includes practical logistics of running Learn to Play Therapy sessions, including toys, play materials and how to set up the playroom.


The final day, day 3, brings many of the topics discussed in Day 2 together in a Clinical Framework. Techniques on how to engage children and how to build play ability are presented and taught. This day may also include discussion of working with children who present with complex issues. This final day also includes work with children aged 7 to 10 years, including the Animated Movie Test and an approach to engage older children.


The training will be conducted online through zoom. The training uses a mixture of information giving, case studies, video analysis, games, 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 supports participants from ‘room’ to ‘room’. Continuing Education (CE) is available for Australian participants, however international participants will need to check with their registering organisation for CE availability.



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 150 publications, including journal articles, book chapters, and books. She has developed several play assessments including: Child-Initiated Pretend Play Assessment, 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 still invited by national and international colleagues to contribute to books by writing book chapters or editing.



Dr Siobhan Casey is a paediatric occupational therapist with experience in working with children, their families and teachers in a variety of settings. In 2018, Siobhan was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy from Deakin University. Her research primarily focused on understanding the developmental processes that occur for self-regulation and pretend play capacities in supporting resilience in children. Her prior research included identifying important markers and processes for change, for children with Autism participating in the Learn to Play program. Siobhan has presented on pretend play development at conferences both nationally and internationally and enjoys delivering training to a wide range of audiences interested in promoting the opportunity for pretend play development in children. Siobhan has previously worked in early intervention community settings, private practice and specialist development schools. She is currently working within a mainstream school setting, supporting the implementation of pretend play within the curriculum. Siobhan continues to research the impact of pretend play development on global developmental functioning and has further interests in researching the role of pretend play development in supporting positive health and wellbeing across the lifespan.


April 5, 2023 @ 7:00 am
April 7, 2023 @ 1:00 pm


Learn to Play
View Organiser Website


Online workshop run via Zoom


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15% Group Discount
Organisations sending 5 or more staff members to the same workshop on the same date 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.