Speakers

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Rachel Altvater

Rachel A. Altvater, PsyD, RPT-S, is a licensed clinical psychologist in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor, and Certified Clinical Trauma Professional. She is the owner of Creative Psychological Health Services in Catonsville, and a psychologist at Gil Institute for Trauma Recovery and Education in Fairfax. Rachel published two articles on her dissertation research on technology and play therapy in the International Journal of Play Therapy and is a contributing author in Integrating Technology into Modern Therapies: A Clinician’s Guide to Developments and Interventions. She is the President-Elect for the MD/DC Association for Play Therapy and serves on the Association for Play Therapy Leadership Committee.

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Steven Baron

Steven Baron, PsyD, has been a school psychologist and in private practice treating children, adolescents, and their parents for 30 years. He also completed postdoctoral training in child and adolescent psychotherapy. Steven has written articles for Play Therapy Magazine and Healing Magazine on fostering communication in play therapy sessions as well as enhancing resilience in children. He has authored chapters in Play Therapy: A Comprehensive Guide To Theory And Practice and Play Therapy Interventions to Enhance Resilience.  In addition, he served as clinical editor for No Such Thing As A Bad Kid, Second Edition. Steven has taught a number of times at the Expressive Therapies Summit in New York as well as at other conferences. 

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Justin Barrasso

Justin Barrasso, MS, LPC, NCC, a licensed clinical professional counselor and a board-certified counselor, earned his master’s in school counseling as well as a post-master’s certification in clinical mental health counseling from Johns Hopkins University. He has more than 10 years’ experience working with children, adolescents, and families. Justin's experience spans the fields of teaching and counseling in both residential and special education settings, as well as private practice psychotherapy. He has given presentations at the Maryland Association for Non-Public Special Education Facilities Conference entitled, “Rethinking Student Resistance and Motivation,” and for families at The Sibley Group entitled, “Engaging Your Resistant Teen.”

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Cindy Bridgman

Cindy Bridgman, MSW, LCSW, has utilized the tools of children – books, play, movement, and creativity – in helping them heal. A therapist for 18 years, she currently is the owner of Bridges of Courage Counseling, an agency that serves children who have experienced child abuse, neglect, and/or abandonment. In addition to counseling, Cindy regularly conducts assessments and serves as an expert witness. She has provided such services in Washington, DC, Alaska, and Michigan. Cindy holds a master’s from the University of Michigan School of Social Work and a bachelor’s in social work from Morgan State University. She has presented at more than 50 conferences nationwide including the International Symposium on Child Abuse, Midwest Justice for Children Conference, and the Expressive Therapies Summit.

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John Burr
John Burr, LCSW, RPT-S, is a licensed clinical social worker in Orem, Utah, a registered play therapist-supervisor, and the owner of The Center for Sandplay and Expressive Therapy. President of the Utah Association for Play Therapy, he has served on its board for the past 23 years. John has over 32 years of experience working with children, adolescents, and adults. He specializes in using sandplay and expressive arts techniques in his clinical practice and teaches workshops on these approaches.
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Heather McTaggart Bryan

Heather McTaggart Bryan, RPT, LPC, a partner at Gil Institute, has worked over the past 20 years in the field of child abuse and neglect in a variety of settings. She provides trainings in complex trauma, cyberbullying, and working with sexually exploited youth. Heather also coordinates closely with schools to enhance children’s learning experiences, especially those with special needs. She has worked with adult and youth sex offenders, and has specialized training in working with very young children with sexual behavior problems. Co-author of a chapter in Play Therapy: A Comprehensive Guide to Theory and Practice, Heather has also received Level 1 Theraplay training.

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Claudia Camargo

Claudia Camargo, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker and has a master's in clinical social work with a concentration in families and children. Claudia was born in the U.S. and has Colombian and Bolivian descent. She is fluent in English and Spanish and enjoys working with bi-cultural youth as well as their families. Claudia is certified in Parent Child Interaction Therapy. She was trained in Theraplay, Marshack Interactional Method, as well as expressive arts (play and sand). Claudia worked in a community mental health agency with low income clients with severe and persistent mental health illness. She has worked with trauma, anxiety, disruptive behaviors, and adjustments disorders.

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Kimberly Cosgrove

Kimberly Cosgrove, LCSW-C, is the director of PACT’s Therapeutic Nursery for Homeless Babies, and has been instrumental in developing an attachment-based therapeutic child care program for very young homeless children and their families. She is a home visitor, family therapist, and trainer in attachment and infant mental health.

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David Crenshaw

David A. Crenshaw, PhD, ABPP, RPT-S, is the clinical director of the Children's Home of Poughkeepsie and an adjunct faculty member of Marist College. He is past president of the NY Association for Play Therapy, past president of the Hudson Valley Psychological Association, a board-certified clinical psychologist, and a fellow of APA. David is the author/editor of many books on play therapy, child trauma, and aggression in children, including: Play Therapy: A Comprehensive Guide to Theory and Practice (w/ Anne Stewart); co-author of Termination Challenges in Child Psychotherapy (w/ Eliana Gil); and co-editor of What to do when Children Clam-Up in Psychotherapy (w/ Cathy Malchiodi).

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Erica Curtis

Erica K. M. Curtis, LMFT, ATR-BC, is a board-certified art therapist and licensed marriage and family therapist with over 15 years of experience. She has a therapy practice in Orange County, CA, teaches for UCLArts and Healing, and was a lecturer in the department of marital and family therapy at Loyola Marymount for a decade. Erica is a past board member of the AATA and past-president of the Southern CA Art Therapy Association. She provides parenting advice at kidsinthehouse.com, where she talks about art’s potential to enrich children’s lives, and lectures about arts-based approaches to health, wellness, and parenting at universities, hospitals, and local organizations. Erica is the author of The Innovative Parent: Connection, Emotional Health, and Academic Success through the Arts, co-written with Ping Ho, founder of UCLArts and Healing.

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Mary DeRaedt

Mary DeRaedt, PhD, LPC, NCC, is a visiting professor at GWU and provides psychotherapy for people of all ages at the Gil Institute for Trauma Recovery and Education. She earned her bachelor’s in education and master’s in mental health counseling at Purdue University. Mary’s doctoral work focused on effective treatments for children and adolescents coping with trauma, anxiety, non-suicidal self-injury, depression, behavior disorders, and disordered eating. Her research focus is on refugee trauma in children, both in the U.S. and internationally. Mary teaches courses on play therapy, child and adolescent development, and offers supervision services to clinicians across Virginia and Washington, DC.

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Marshall Lyles

Marshall Lyles, RPT-S, LPC-S, LMFT-S, an EMDRIA-approved consultant, has over 15 years of practice in family and play therapy in a variety of mental health settings. With extensive international speaking and training experience in experiential approaches to treating attachment trauma, he particularly enjoys discussing the use of sandtray therapy within a trauma-informed context. Presently, Marshall conducts supervision and consultation sessions with counseling professionals. He is EMDR-certified and applies this, and other trauma approaches, with diverse populations. Marshall is nearing the completion of his PhD in marriage and family therapy.

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Teresa Dias

Teresa Dias, MA, is a counselor at Eliot Community Human Services, where she sees at-risk children, teens, and their families. She has her master’s in drama therapy from Lesley University. Teresa has spent over 20 years performing in the U.S. and abroad, including the True Story Theatre, a playback theater in Boston, MA. She co-authored a chapter on the integration of play and drama therapy in a book by Malchiodi and Crenshaw entitled, The Expressive Arts to Promote Attachment. Teresa has presented at several play therapy conferences on the topic of drama therapy and attachment. She is a certified parent educator for the Circle of Security Parenting course and has received advanced education in the field of play, art, and sand therapies.

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Andrea Driggs McLeod

Andrea Driggs McLeod, RPT-S, LCSW, is a psychotherapist at Gil Institute for Trauma Recovery and Education in Fairfax, VA. She earned her master's in clinical social work from the University of Maryland at Baltimore. Andrea is certified as a child-centered play therapist through the National Institute for Relationship Enhancement, and is a registered play therapy supervisor. She has training in Theraplay, filial therapy, and has also completed extensive training in cognitive behavioral therapy. Andrea works with very young children, elementary school aged children, and teenagers.

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April Duncan

April Duncan, MSW, LCSW, RPT, obtained her bachelor’s in science from the University of Missouri-Columbia and her master’s in social work from Saint Louis University. After four years as the program director of a therapeutic preschool, she began her own private practice, with an emphasis on early intervention for African American children and families. April is also the owner and co-founder of the St. Louis Play Therapy Institute, providing play therapy trainings for educational and mental health professionals.

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Rick Gaskill

Rick Gaskill, EdD, RPT-S, has worked in community mental health for over 40 years and is the executive director of Sumner Mental Health Center in Wellington, KS. He is a licensed clinical psychotherapist, mental health counselor, and an infant mental health clinical mentor. Rick is a past-president of KSAPT and has served on the APT Board. He is co-founder of the Approved Play Therapy Center at Wichita State University, where he teaches play therapy. Rick was the Kansas Head Start Partner of the Year 2005 and was given the Exemplary Service to Children and Families Award at the Kansas Governor’s Conference for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect in 2014. He speaks and publishes regularly on the contribution of neuroscience to play therapy.

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Eliana Gil

Eliana Gil, PhD, ATR, RPT-S, LMFT, is a registered play therapy supervisor, a registered art therapist, and a licensed marriage, family, child counselor. She is former president of the Association for Play Therapy and has worked in the field of child abuse prevention and treatment for over 40 years. Founder and partner at Gil Institute for Trauma Recovery and Education, a group private practice in Fairfax, VA, she was adjunct faculty at Virginia Tech University for over 15 years. Bilingual and bicultural, originally from Ecuador, she has authored numerous books.

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Deanne Ginns-Gruenberg

Deanne (DeeDee) Ginns-Gruenberg, MA, LPC, BSN, RPT-S is a licensed professional counselor and registered play therapist in private practice in Troy, MI.  She specializes in treating children & adolescents experiencing anxiety, trauma and loss. DeeDee has been a contributing author in four child therapy books, and is known nationally as the former owner of the Self Esteem Shop, a mental health bookstore that she and her husband operated for the past 26 years. 

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Myriam Goldin

Myriam Goldin, RPT-S, LCSW, certified Theraplay clinician and supervisor, has been in private practice since 2007 and is a founding partner of the Gil Institute for Trauma Recovery and Education in Fairfax, VA. She has spent over 16 years working clinically with bilingual and bicultural children and youth experiencing trauma and educational challenges. Myriam is well versed in attachment-based modalities and incorporates Theraplay and Circle of Security in her clinical practice. She has presented on trauma and its impact in national and international forums. Myriam has contributed writing to two books on play therapy.

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Ping Ho

Ping Ho, MA, MPH, is founder/director of UCLArts and Healing - an organizational member of the UCLA Collaborative Centers for Integrative Medicine, of which Ping was founding administrator and is a steering committee member. She was also founding administrator for the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology. Ping has a bachelor's in psychology from Stanford, a master's in counseling psychology from the Univ. of CA, Santa Barbara, and an MPH in community health sciences from UCLA School of Public Health. She is on the Council of Advisers for the Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health. She is co-author of The Innovative Parent: Raising Connected, Happy, Successful Kids through Artuclartsandhealing.org

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Amy Hoch

Amy Hoch, PsyD, is a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist in New Jersey and New York who has provided trauma treatment for over 20 years. A staff psychologist at Rowan University’s Counseling and Psychological Services Center, she coordinates a Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) program for young adults who engage in dangerous behaviors including self-injury, suicide attempts, substance abuse, disordered eating behaviors, and risky sex. Previously, Amy treated children and adolescents who experienced abuse and neglect. She also conducted forensic evaluations concerning allegations of sexual abuse. Amy provides worldwide training on Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and DBT.

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Kim Hutson

Kim Hutson is a K-12 multiple subject credentialed teacher. She also holds a supplemental art credential and runs a theatre arts program for sixth graders. Kim is trained in Teaching Tolerance, Differentiated Instruction, Place Based Learning, and Positive Based Intervention for Students. This is her 25th year teaching elementary school.

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Jason Jedrusiak

Jason Jedrusiak, CYT, has been leading laughter yoga sessions in the Boston area since 2010, which he founded through his training in yoga, improv, and therapeutic clowning. He’s spread the laughter to local organizations and institutions, including Harvard University and NUPath, where he's laughed with people living with developmental and neurological disorders. Jason directs Laughing Matters, a nonprofit that brings laughter and improv comedy to retirement homes, homeless shelters, and places in need of the healing effects of laughter.

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Peggy Kolodny

Peggy Kolodny, MA, ATR-BC, LCPAT, earned her master’s in art therapy from GWU. She has earned Level 2 certificates in EMDR and IFS. Specializing in trauma-focused art therapy in private practice, Peggy is adjunct faculty for the University of Maryland School of Social Work, and the workshop faculties of the Ferentz Institute trauma certificate program and Chesapeake Professional Seminars. Past positions include vice president of the Maryland Chapter of the American Professional Society on Abuse of Children, chairperson of the Central Maryland Sexual Abuse Treatment Task Force, and president of the Maryland Art Therapy Association. Past faculties include Goucher College and the Maryland Institute College of Art.

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Jennifer Lefebre

Jennifer Lefebre, PsyD, RPT-S, is a licensed child psychologist, registered play therapist-supervisor, and adjunct faculty at several universities, where she teaches and serves as a supervisor. She is a certified TF-CBT therapist, and is completing EMDR certification. Jennifer has over 15 years' experience with trauma, attachment, and neurodevelopmental disorders. She is also a Reiki Master and a trauma-sensitive yoga instructor.

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Dafna Lender

Dafna Lender, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker and is the program director for The Theraplay® Institute. A native of Israel, she earned her master’s in social work from Yeshiva University in New York. Dafna’s life’s work has been treating children with attachment/trauma issues, with a particular interest in orphanage neglect and children with in-utero toxin exposure. Dafna co-authored two chapter’s in the 3rd edition of the Theraplay book on working with traumatized children and working with adoptive/foster children in Theraplay.

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Carole Norris-Shortle

Carole Norris-Shortle, RPT-S, LCSW-C, LCMFT, is a faculty member of the Secure Starts: Center for Infant Study at the University of Maryland Psychiatry Department, the senior mental health consultant at PACT Therapeutic Nursery for Homeless Babies and their Families, a licensed family therapist, and a registered play therapist-supervisor.

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Dee Preston-Dillon

Dee Preston-Dillon, MA, PhD, founder of the Center for Culture and Sandplay, has committed four decades to clinician education and the projective process of sand therapy. Her research into cross-cultural, indigenous aspects of Jungian Sandplay anchored her development of Narrative Sand Therapy. Dee has presented at over 40 conferences on symbols in sand, including theory, ethics, and clinical practice. Her current study maps an existential landscape in sand therapy. In collaboration with College Park Youth Services, Dee designed a certificate program that supports clinician immersion in sand scenes and case exploration to deepen insights and extend therapists' capacity to resonate with client representations in sand. She is on the graduate counseling faculty at GWU and Johns Hopkins University, the art therapy program at GWU, and the Ferentz Institute.

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Amy Romero

Amy Romero, LPC, NCC, RPT, is a registered Circle of Security parent facilitator, Level 2 Theraplay practitioner, and has over 17 years combined in working with children, adolescents, and parents as an educator, Nationally Certified School Counselor, and currently has a private practice in Lafayette, Louisiana. She specializes in the treatment of childhood anxiety with focus on the parent-child relationship. Amy has experience in training professionals on a local level and at Louisiana state conferences with topics including childhood anxiety and original play therapy techniques.

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Deborah Ross

Deborah Ross, CJT, LPC, has had a psychotherapy practice in Northern Virginia for 20 years. She studied interpersonal neurobiology at the Mindsight Institute with Dan Siegel. Deborah recognizes the healing power of expressive writing and believes that this practice can change the way our brains work so that we experience a deeper sense of well-being and greater resilience. She is credentialed as a certified journal therapist through the Therapeutic Writing Institute. Deborah offers journaling instruction through workshops and private consultation.

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Jennifer Shaw

Jennifer Shaw, PsyD, RPT-S, is a clinical psychologist and a founding partner at the Gil Institute for Trauma Recovery and Education. She treats children/adolescents with a history of trauma. Jennifer specializes in children with sexual behavior problems, using a family-focused approach. She co-created the manual (w/ Eliana Gil), Assessment of Sexual Behavior Problems in Children, and a 12-session treatment protocol, Boundary Project, a family-focused, evidence-informed treatment approach for children with sexual behavior problems. Additional collaborations include A Kid’s Book About Private Parts, Touching, Touching Problems, and Other Stuff, and Working with Children with Sexual Behavior Problems. Jennifer provides workshops on a variety of topics related to childhood trauma, abuse, and the use of expressive arts in treatment with children and families.

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Quinn Smelser

Quinn K. Smelser, MA, NCC, RPT, LPC, is a doctoral candidate in counseling at GWU and licensed counselor in Texas, DC, and Virginia. She earned her master’s in counseling from Texas State Univ. and her bachelor's in psychology from UT-Austin. Quinn has worked with children and families who experienced trauma, grief, and loss. She is a therapist at The Gil Institute for Trauma Recovery and Education, supervises master’s level clinicians, and is an instructor at GWU. Past work experience includes working in residential treatment, hospice, and home-based therapy in rural Texas. She is a member of the American Counseling Association and the Association for Play Therapy.

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Anne Stewart

Anne Stewart, PhD, RPT-S, is a professor, author, supervisor, and presenter. She practices family and play therapy with clients across the lifespan. Anne works to promote secure attachment and resilience for children, families, and communities around the world. She is the founder of the Virginia Association for Play Therapy, past chair of the Foundation for Play Therapy, and chair-elect for the Association for Play Therapy Board of Directors.

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Sharon Strouse

Sharon Strouse, MA, ATR-BC, LCPAT, is a board-certified and licensed clinical professional art therapist with 30 years' experience with adults in group and individual settings. A year after her 17-year old daughter Kristin ended her own life, she immersed herself in the creative process of collage, which became the foundation for her book, Artful Grief: A Diary of Healing. Additional published works in Neimeyer’s Techniques of Grief Therapy: Creative Practices for Counseling the Bereaved and Thompson and Neimeyer’s Grief and the Expressive Arts: Practices for Creating Meaning. Sharon leads national workshops and art therapy circles for survivors of loss.

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Alyssa Swan
Alyssa Swan, PhD, LPC, NCC, is the newly appointed associate clinical director at the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie in Poughkeepsie, NY. Her research and clinical work focus on delivering individual and family play therapy and expressive interventions for children and adolescents who experienced past relational trauma, attachment disruption, and behavioral concerns. Alyssa served for over three years as assistant director at the University of North Texas Center for Play Therapy, after which she became a counselor educator in the Department of Counseling and Higher Education at Eastern Illinois University.

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Susan Taylor

Susan Taylor, CMA, LCSW-C, RPT-S, implements mindfulness and movement approaches in trauma-informed, body-based and talk therapies at PACT’s Therapeutic Nursery and The Center for Resilience and Connection in Baltimore. She has taught parent-child attunement, attachment, and education, using multiple modalities across a wide variety of populations and settings. A certified movement analyst, Susan has taught clients, clinicians, actors, elders, families, scholars, individuals, dyads, and groups across the nation, using music, movement, rhythm, and humor. With specialized expertise in LGBTQ issues and undoing racism, she has published on subjects including parent-child attachment, mindfulness, and the use of movement with adolescents.

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Lyla Tyler

Lyla Tyler, RPT-S, LMFT, is a licensed marriage and family therapist and also a registered play therapy supervisor. She has specialized in treating children, teens, and families in her midtown Sacramento, CA private practice. Lyla is also a Nurtured Heart Approach® advanced trainer. She has specific training dealing with trauma and is trained in experiential play therapy, art therapy, EMDR, Trauma Resiliency Model® and Theraplay®. For over 30 years, Lyla has worked in the children’s mental health field and has provided training throughout CA and internationally.

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Dan Walsh

Dan Walsh, MS, MT-BC, is a board-certified music therapist working with incarcerated youth who reside in a limited secure placement facility. He also works with adolescents and adults in inpatient psychiatric settings. Dan has presented at the Mid-Atlantic Region Conference of the American Music Therapy Association, and at the Expressive Therapies Summit in Los Angeles. He recently completed his training at Molloy College. As a music therapist, he is able to capitalize on his previous experience as a performer, producer, and educator in order to meet the diverse needs of his clients.

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