Polyvagal Power in the Playroom shows therapists how to treat children using play therapy to address the hierarchy of autonomic states. What do children need and how do play therapists purposefully use the principles of play to increase the feeling states of safety and regulation? Step inside the playroom and discover how trained play therapists are addressing treatment using polyvagal theory when working with children and teens.

The book is organized into three parts:

  1. Interruptions explores developmental derailments brought about by relational betrayals such as domestic violence, child sexual abuse, and attachment ruptures implicated in a myriad of adverse childhood experiences. In these cases, the neuroception of safety scaffolded through "good enough" rhythms of healthy caregiver/child interactions is either compromised through a thousand relational cuts (parental addiction or parental mental illness) or abruptly ended (divorce, death or incarceration of a parent)
  2. Happenings explores events that involve an external intrusion, such as natural disasters, wars, and pandemics
  3. Expressions of risk and resilience explores mental health symptom clusters such as depression, anxiety, dissociation, and explosive behavior through the lens of dorsal vagal or sympathetic nervous system states, as well as specific play therapy methods for healing the nervous system

The therapeutic powers of play are illustrated through case examples and in practical, play-based interventions woven throughout the book.

Child and play therapists will come away from Polyvagal Power in the Playroom with the tools they need to help children and their caregivers achieve deeper levels of safety and connection.

chapter 1|13 pages

How the Science of Relationships Impacts Our Thinking About Development

Interruptions, Happenings, and Expressions of Risk or Resilience

chapter 2|15 pages

Listening Inside Our Bodies, Outside Our Bodies, and Between Bodies

Interoception, Exteroception, and Setting Up a Polyvagal-Informed Playroom

chapter 3|13 pages

The Sounds of Safety in an Unsafe World

Recovering from Domestic Violence Through Polyvagal-Informed Play Therapy

chapter 4|17 pages

The Genius of the Disembodied Self

Coping with Childhood Sexual Abuse

chapter 6|11 pages

Neurodivergencies and Polyvagal Theory

Incorporating Polyvagal Theory

chapter 8|15 pages

Reclaiming a Feeling of Safety in Natural Disasters

Preparatory and Advanced Interventions Using Play and Play Therapy

chapter 9|14 pages

Polyvagal-Informed Practice to Support Children and Caregivers in War

Toward the Creation of a Huge and Reassuring Playroom

chapter 12|16 pages

Helping Depressed, Dissociative, and Withdrawn Children

Integrating Holistic Expressive Play Therapy and Polyvagal Theory

chapter 14|12 pages

Child-Centered Play Therapy

Person of the Therapist Presence, Neuroception of Safety, and Co-Regulation

chapter 15|16 pages

Safety in Sand and Symbols

Polyvagal Shifts in the Sand Tray

chapter 16|11 pages

Expressive Arts Therapy as Polyvagal Play

Shifting States Towards Safety

chapter 18|13 pages

Digital Play Therapy™

Harnessing the Felt Sense of Safety in the Digital Space