Training opportunities become rare when you have time to develop your thoughts, raise concerns, and solidify your understanding of what is being taught and how it is best applied. Trainings must be provided in small incruments to increase attention and investment in the learning process.


2016 Calendar

Program Information


Training Intensive Descriptions

Additional Registration Information

Registration Form



8626 Lee Highway, Suite 200
Fairfax, Virginia 22031

Updated : January 2, 2016



Please check below for information related to Continuing Education for specific programs.


MARCH 4 - 5: Play Therapy 101:  Basic Principles, Theories, and Application

This workshop is designed to provide a basic understanding of the historical development of play therapy as a legitimate therapeutic approach, describing the major theories of play therapy, and Axline’s foundational principles of child-centered play therapy.  This workshop will then demonstrate how directive and nondirective approaches in play therapy can be used separately or in unison and participants will have experiential opportunities to practice several play therapy principles and approaches.  In addition, information will be provided on how play therapy strategies can be utilized to promote and advance therapeutic goals when working with a range of behavioral problems and concerns.

Instructor:  Andrea Driggs McLeod, LCSW, RPT-S 

Approved by Commonwealth Education Seminars to provide 12 CE credits to psychologists, social workes, marriage and family therapists, and counselors in selected states.  Please see below under Continuing Education for additional information.

click here to register


MARCH 25 - 26: Play Therapy in the Assessment of Sexual Behavior Problems in Children

This two-day intensive is designed to provide information about children with sexual behavior problems (SBP) and provide a context for responding to them and their families utilizing play therapy strategies in a purposeful way.  Emphasis will be placed on conducting an assessment that identifies children’s problem perceptions and behaviors through a variety of directive and nondirective play therapy techniques.  A specific assessment format will be highlighted called the Assessment of Sexual Behavior Problems in Children (ASBPC), which uses specific play therapy activities. Participants will have the opportunity to practice play therapy activities in small groups. A copy of the ASBPC curriculum will be provided to all participants. 

Instructor:  Jennifer Shaw, Psy.D.

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APRIL 1 - 2: Trauma-Focused Integrated Play Therapy (TF IPT)

This workshop will provide participants with a working knowledge of an integrated model, well-anchored in trauma theory and informed by current scientific knowledge as well as research.  Trauma-Focused Integrated Play Therapy is relationship-based and utilizes principles of child-centered play therapy in order to 1) allow children to self-direct; 2) give children an experience of control and mastery; and 3) permit children to access natural healing mechanisms such as post-trauma play.  By giving children opportunities to work in a permissive setting, clinicians observe and document how children utilize gradual exposure, gain an understanding of traumatic experiences, discharge affect, and begin to manage experiences that can feel overwhelming or frightening.  This model integrates directive strategies as needed, deepens metaphor work by amplifying the child’s ability to explore the material they externalize, and provides children with a safe, predictable environment for processing interpersonal trauma. 

Instructor:  Myriam Goldin, LCSW, RPT-S

Approved by Commonwealth Educational Seminars to provide 12 CE Credits for psychologists, social workers, counselors, and marriage and family therapists in selected states.  See additional information under Continuing Education below.

click here to register


APRIL 22 - 23: Childhood Trauma: Play Therapy Strategies from a Neurobiological Focus

This two-day didactic and experiential workshop provides rationale, theory, and practice for clinicians who work with traumatized children and youth and their families. Special emphasis is placed on the neurobiological impact of early childhood trauma, ways in which affect and behavior are responses to a state of stress/distress, and the ways in which play therapy is well suited to address signs and symptoms of acute and chronic stress in children and youth.

 An overview of normative brain development is provided along with a review of ways in which chronic stress or toxic stress can arrest or disrupt typical development. With this foundation and review of current literature in place, participants will then learn specific strategies for approaching the current manifestation(s) of stress in the child, and learn ways to engage caregivers in activities that calm the brain so family-focused recovery work can begin. Each neurobiological domain of impact will be reviewed in detail with emphasis on what the stressed brain needs from caregivers and primary environments. Special considerations for sexual trauma will be provided. Several play and expressive arts techniques and activities will be presented and practiced with participants, with opportunity for role-play and group processing. This workshop will include experiential work as well as didactic presentation of material.

Instructor:  Jennifer Shaw, Psy.D.

Approved by Commonwealth Educational Seminars to provide 12 CE Credits in psychology, social work, marriage and family therapy, and counseilng in selected states.  See more information below under Continuing Education.

click here to register


Engaging Boys in Treatment: Road-Tested Creative Play Therapy Approaches 

Therapy, by its very nature, is an off-putting experience for many boys because the process is often antithetical to the ways they interact and connect with others.  This workshop will examine how the things therapists have been taught about working with boys may be part of the problem.  Participants will: examine societal beliefs about boys; discuss current research and theory that expands the existing clinical frame; and learn a variety of effective and creative play therapy approaches and techniques that have been used in individual and group work with many challenging boys, both children and adolescents. Participants will learn to select and implement relevant play therapy strategies in working with boys that decrease their hesitancy and optimize their full investment in the therapy process.  Physical, dynamic, dramatic, and expressive techniques will be demonstrated, and participants will have an opportunity for experiential work.  


Private Practice, White Plains, NY; Adjunct Faculty, New York University & Lesley University

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MAY 20 - 21: Treatment of Children with Sexual Behavior Problems: Play Therapy and CBT

Our treatment approach for children with sexual behavior problems is informed by a comprehensive and specialized assessment process.  This two-day intensive places special emphasis on guiding parents and caretakers to provide nurturing supervision and empathic care, and offering specific ways to engage children and caretakers in treatment designed to enhance their relationships.  A variety of play therapy strategies are provided and practiced as well as integrative, family-focused approaches to treatment.  A 12-session treatment model (Boundary Project) is discussed and practiced session by session.  A copy of the Boundary Project curriculum will be provided to all participants.

Instructor:  Jennifer Shaw, Psy.D.

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Guest Faculty:  Christian Bellissimo, LCSW, RPT-S

This workshop will explore the rationale and indications for home-based play therapy.  The importance of establishing a structured and consistent daily routine for the child through the use of a visual schedule and rules to reinforce physical behaviors, will be explored.  Next, the creation of a travel play therapy kit will be addressed, and participants will learn how to set up a play space in the home environment.  The bulk of the workshop will focus on coaching caregivers to conduct play sessions with a young child.  Universal Play Therapy: A Guide for Supporting Young Children's Development, a filial therapy based model developed byt he presenter, will be shared.  The model presents several essential skills intended to strengthen the adult-child relationship while supporting the child's acquisition of emotional coping skills, including: following the child's lead, framing the child's behavior as a choice, limit setting, naming, mirroring and modeiing feelings, and supporting independence and self-regulation through challenging tasks.  The play skills will be presented through video presentations, and participants will have ample opportunity to practice the play skills in small groups.  

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JUNE 10-12:  MID-ATLANTIC PLAY THERAPY INSTITUTE IN CRYSTAL CITY, VA.  Go to:  www.playtherapytraining.org for information and registration.  Sue Bratton, Larry Rubin, Suzanne Fincher, Eliana Gil and others.




Instructor:  Eliana Gil, Ph.D., RPT-S

This two-day workshop will take an in-depth look at a unique form of play that children employ after enduring traumatic experiences.  We will discuss the special characteristics of post-traumatic play as well as learn the differences between toxic and dynamic post-traumatic play.  The question of how and when to intervene in toxic post-traumatic play will be highlighted and participants will have ample opportunities to identify post-traumautic play in children's clinical work and will become adept at understanding the underlying intent of this play and the importance of clinical witnessing.

This workshop has been approved by Commonwealth Educational Seminars for 12 CEs in the professions of psychology, social work, counseling, and marriage and family therapy in selected states.  Please see below under Continuing Education for more information.


click here to register


This two-day didactic and experiential workshop is designed to provide a rationale for group play therapy; an overview of basic principles of play therapy and application within groups; an explanation of the neurobiological impact of stress and trauma on children and their families; and presents a series of integrative, playful group activities that can be utilized to address affective and behavioral manifestations of acute and chronic stress in children.  This workshop will include experiential work as well as didactic presentation of material.  Group play therapy is one of the most widely used approaches in addressing a range of social, behavioral, and emotional difficulties.  Participants will learn to facilitate specific integrative strategies to engage group members and conduct group play therapy sessions with young and school-aged children.  


Instructor:  Jennifer Shaw, Psy.D.

click here to register


Children on the autism spectrum struggle with communication and connection to the outside world.  This workshop will discuss ways to help parents and caretakers establish and enhance a warm, structured, playful, and connected relationship with their children.  Drawing on relationship-focused, developmental, and play therapy approaches, this two-day workshop will present an integrated approach designed to support and enhance parent-child dyadic interactions.  Based on a synthesis of research identifying the core deficits of autism underlying outward behaviors, this workshop will explore how these challenges disrupt the guided participation relationship between parent and child, reducing opportunities for playful engagement and learning.  Dr. Cobb will emphasize how play therapy techniques and other relationship-based strategies can move families beyond crisis toward an improved quality of life.  


Instructor:  Jodi Cobb, Ph.D., LMFT

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This workshop is designed to provide a basic understanding of play and family therapy and the basic principles promoted by each approach.  This workshop is for play therapists who may find it challenging to incorporate family therapy into their child therapy work.  A number of family play therapy approaches and activities will be presented and practiced.  In addition, attachment-based family therapy will be highlighted using active, dynamic, playful interactions between parents and their children.  Participants will have practice formulating problems from a systemic point of view.  

Instructor:  Malvolia Gregory, MFT

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Instructor:  Andrea Driggs McLeod, LCSW, RPT-S

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This workshop is designed to provide participants with a structured and manualized assessment process that uses play therapy principles and techniques as the theoretical framework.  This assessment tool has been developed over the last twenty years of working with children who have histories of trauma.  Characteristically, these children do not volunteer information, may not be emotionally or cognitively capable of formulating accurate perceptions and communicating those perceptions, and may feel hesitant to repeat their stories after multiple interviews or evaluations.  The aim of this assessment process is to give children the time they need to become familiar with clinicians and therapy environments as well as find their own ways of processing difficult emotions at their own pace.  Deeply reliant on the expressive arts, this assessment approach invites children to use play, art, and sand therapy techniques in order to externalize whatever is on their mind.  Clinicians are encouraged to document thematic material in children's play, listen to, and invite metaphors, and craft comments and questions.

Instructor:  Myriam Goldin, LCSW, RPT-S 

click here to register




 Program Information

Dr. Eliana Gil part of a training team that provides relevant, practical, and integrated trainings on a variety of topics related to play therapy and childhood trauma.  Invited Faculty will provide specialized trainings on a variety of topics.  

Special features of Starbright programs include:  

  • Limited group size
  • Experiential participation
  • Clinical case presentations
  • Clinical skill building

Example of Daily Schedule: Six full hrs per day

8:45 - 9:00 Arrival and coffee
9:00 - 10:30 Program
10:30 - 10:45 Break
10:45 - 12:00 Program
12:00 - 1:00 Lunch (On your own; brown bag encouraged)
1:00 - 2:30 Program
2:30 - 2:45 Break
2:45 - 5:00 Program

For details and additional information regarding transportation, lodging, continuing education credits, cancellation policy and work scholarships, click:
Additional Registration Information.

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2016 Faculty

Eliana Gil, PhD
Director of the Starbright Training Institute, and Founding Partner and Psychotherapist, Gil Institute for Trauma Recovery and Education

Jennifer Shaw, Psy.D. Founding Partner and Psychotherapist, Gil Institute for Trauma Recovery and Education

Myriam Goldin, LCSW, RPT,   Founding Partner and Psychotherapist, Gil Institute for Trauma Recovery and Education

Jodi Cobb, Ph.D., LMFT, Psychotherapist, Gil Institute for Trauma Recovery & Education

Andrea Driggs McLeod, LCSW is a Certified Child Centered Play Therapist and has extgensive experience working with children with histories of trauma.

Malvolia Gregory, MFT, Intake Coordinator and Psychotherapist with Gil Institute for Trauma Recovery and Education. 


Christian Bellissimo, LCSW, RPT-S

Craig Haen, Ph.D.

Please go to www.gilinstitute.com for more information on training team.







Additional Registration Information:
Continuing Education Credits
Cancellation Policy
Work Scholarships

There are two major airports in the Northern Virginia area: Ronald Reagan National Airport and Dulles Airport. Ronald Reagan is approximately 30 minutes from the host site and Dulles airport is about the same distance. All trainings will be held in the Vienna, Virginia area.


We are happy to refer our workshop participants to the Homewood Suites by Hilton, located about 5 minutes from our offices.  We have worked out some good rates with this hotel and Dr. Gil personally visited it and found it to be clean, comfortable, pleasant, and very well situated from our offices.  They have extra amenities, including transportation to and from Starbright and the Metro; a full breakfast by an Ecuadorian chef; walking distance from the Silver Diner (now using a very healthy and natural menu), and across the way from some other nice restaurants.  There is a swimming pool and a nice dining area and courtyard.  The rooms are all suites with a kitchen area (my personal favorite when I'm on the road).  The rates for our partiticipants attending Thurs eve through Sunday is $209 per night on Thursdays (heavy volume night) but $109 for Friday and Saturday.  These are competitive rates for the area.  Please mention Starbright when you call for reservations and if you have questions, please contact Bob Duffey. 

HOMEWOOD SUITES BY HILTON   8130 Porter Road, Falls Church, VA

703.560.6644  * will provide shuttle to Starbright Institute, as well as Dunn Loring Metro Station *

Continuing Education Credits:

Starbright Training Institute currently provides CE credits for play therapy.  Starbright Training Institute has been approved by the Association of Play Therapy to provide continuing education credits in play therapy.  Starbright Training Institute is an Approved Provider with APT (APT#96-029) and maintains full responsibility for the program.

Other CE Credits:  Contiuning Education Credits for many of our programs will be awarded by the Commonwealth Educational Seminars (CES) for some of the following professions listed below.  Please see course descriptions of each workshop to confirm if they are approved for the individual program and which professions are eligible to received CE credits for each specific training.   

CommonwealthSeminars@gmail.com     CommonwealthSeminars.com


Continuing Education credits may be awarded by Commonwealth Educational Seminars (CES) for the following professions.

Psychologists: Commonwealth Educational Seminars (CES) is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to offer continuing education credit programs. CES maintains responsibility for this program and its content. 

Social Workers: CES, provider #1117, is approved as a Provider for Social Work Continuing Education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) www.aswb.org, through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. CES maintains responsibility for the program. ASWB approval period: 10/15/15 through 10/15/18. Social Workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval. 

Marriage and Family Therapists: Continuing education credit for Marriage & Family Therapists is awarded in the following states: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IN, IA, KS, ME, MD, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NC, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA,WI and WY. CES maintains responsibility for this program. 

Licensed Professional Counselors: CES is entitled to grant continuing education credit to LPCs in the following states: AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MA, MO, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NC, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, UT, VT, VA, WA, WI, WY. CES maintains responsibility for this program.

Who Should Attend: These training events are appropriate for mental health professionals who work with children, adolescents, and their families.

Skill Level: Due to the interdisciplinary audience these events attract, attendees are urged to review the training description to determine appropriateness for personal and professional goals. Content is appropriate for professionals with skills of beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

Cancellation Policy:
Refunds will be made only if requested in writing. A 75% refund will be provided for registrants who send a cancellation notice postmarked no later than two weeks prior to the Intensive.  There is a $50 cancellation fee if no previous notice is provided.

ADA/Section 504 Policy: If you have special needs, please contact Dr. Gil at 202-257-2783 at least two weeks prior to the scheduled event.

Work Scholarships:
A limited number of "work scholarships" and partial-discount "hardship scholarships" are available upon written request. Please write a letter stating why you qualify for these scholarships to eliana gil, emgil@earthlink.net

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Our areas of expertise include:

Child and Family Play Therapy
Parent Child Enhancement
Play Therapy with Childhood Trauma
Problem Sexual Behaviors in Children
Limited group size
Experiential work
CEUs available through Institute for Continuing Education  


Contact us today at: (202) 257-2783