Attachment-Focused Family Play Therapy: An Intervention for Children and Adolescents after Trauma


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Attachment-Focused Family Play Therapy presents an essential roadmap for therapists working with traumatized youth.

Exploring trauma and attachment through a neurobiological focus, the book lays out a flexible framework for practitioners treating young clients within the context of their family relationships. Chapters demonstrate how techniques of play and expressive therapy can be integrated into work with different developmental stages, while providing the tools needed to fully incorporate the family into the healing process. The book also provides clinical examples and guidance on the ethical decision-making needed to effectively implement attachment work and facilitate positive change.

Written in an accessible style, Attachment-Focused Family Play Therapy is an important resource for mental health professionals who work with traumatized children, adolescents, and adults.


  • Part I.
  • 1. Rationale for an Attachment-based Family Therapy Approach Integrating Play and Expressive Arts
  • 2. The Neurobiology of Trauma, Behaviour, and Co-Regulation
  • 3. Trauma and Relationships
  • 4. The Nuts and Bolts of Relationships
  • 5. Repairing Ruptures in the Attachment Relationship
  • Part II.
  • 6. Framework for Attachment-based Family Play Therapy
  • 7. Guiding Principles of the Model for Implementation
  • 8. Observational Assessment Phase
  • 9. Safety and Engagement Phase
  • 10. Realignment Phase
  • 11. Attunement Phase and Termination
  • 12. Clinical Considerations When Working with Traumatized Families

Author Bio:

Cathi Spooner, LCSW, RPT/S, is a registered play therapy supervisor, clinical trauma specialist, and is certified in basic sand therapy. She is the founder of Renewing Hearts Counseling and Consulting and has been providing psychotherapy to children, adolescents, and their families for over 20 years.


“This book takes the mystery out of integrating play therapy with attachment and family-systems theories. It offers therapists a roadmap to understanding the neurobiology of trauma and connects how trauma affects the brain and the ability to self-regulate. This is a well-written book for mental health professionals utilizing attachment-based play therapy with children, adolescents, and families. Cathi Spooner has done an incredible job providing implementable approaches to help clients build and repair attachments.” – Althea T. Simpson, LCSW, RPT-S, founder and CEO of Unicorn Life Play Therapy.