Training Buffalo’s: A Systemic Play Therapy Approach to Treating Disruptive Behavior Disorders

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Disruptive Behavior Disorders (ADHD, ODD, CD, ASD, etc.) tend to be the most sought out concerns for families and schools, yet therapists tend to shy away from these cases. Just like avoiding buffalo’s in the wild, treatment providers want to maintain a distance in order to avoid getting hurt. Over 50 years of research tells us how to help children with these disorders, yet most of the interventions that are still used actually perpetuate the problem. Learn the tricks involved in taming wild buffalo’s and how they are similar to helping children with disruptive behavior disorders and their families. Participants will be introduced to family system’s principles that are pertinent to families with a child(ren) who have disruptive behaviors. These systems principles will be combined with filial play therapy, directive play therapy, and child-centered play therapy principles to inform the play therapists work with this treatment population.

This course qualifies for 6 hours of non-contact CE’s with the Association for Play Therapy (APT Approved Provider 18-537).

Course Information




Gain an understanding of how Systemic Family Therapy principles and Play Therapy can be utilized to decrease Disruptive Behaviors in children who often act like “Buffalo’s”.

The learning experience for this workshop is a convenient non-contact self-paced online training, with unlimited, lifetime access after registration and purchase starting August 29, 2023. Digital CE certificates are automatically generated with your name once all lessons have been completed, you have filled out the evaluation form, and you have passed the quiz with a score of 70% or more.

***NOTE: APT CE’s will NOT be awarded to registrants who are not mental-health professionals.***

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this workshop participants will be able to:

  • Describe 3 family systems principles pertinent to disruptive behaviors,
  • Identify the systemic nature of disruptive behaviors and utilize play therapy interventions systemically,
  • Discuss current play therapy research on interventions for disruptive behavior disorders,
  • Identify and discuss the coercion cycle and its application to play therapy,
  • Identify the role of the play therapist at involving parents and extra-systemic adults in play therapy,
  • Identify and utilize appropriate filial/directive/child-centered play therapy tools for disruptive behavior, and
  • Demonstrate through role play, the use of play therapy tools in various scenarios.

About the Instructor

Michael Whitehead, PhD, LMFT, RPT-STM received his B.S. in Marriage, Family, and Human Development from Brigham Young University in 2007, his M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Brigham Young University in 2009, and his Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from Michigan State University in 2016. The combination of his training in child development and Marriage and Family Therapy help give Dr. Whitehead a unique view of the family, how problems develop, and are treated. He primarily works with the whole family to find solutions to problems that are manifesting in one or more of the family members. Dr. Whitehead is currently in full-time clinical practice at Aspen Grove Family Therapy in Twin Falls, Idaho. In addition to his therapy practice, Dr. Whitehead teaches part time at National University’s Marriage and Family Therapy program. He has presented at the local and national level on topics ranging from parenting, behavior management, divorce, general family therapy, and play therapy. He also authored and co-authored book chapters on treating disruptive behavior disorders and play therapy. He is an Approved Supervisor and recipient of the Certificate in Leadership from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. He has served in several different state professional board positions. His passion is making sure children with disruptive behavior disorders are treated compassionately and effectively.

Cancellation Policy

Due to the nature of this training, and the ability to access the videos after registration, refunds cannot be given to registrants.

Regular Price


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