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


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 workshop will take place in the following places: 


  • Tri-Cities, Washington on August 26, 2023 starting at 9am and ending at 5:00pm, with a 90 minute lunch break between 12pm and 1:30pm. Specific location details will be provided upon confirmation of 10 registrants. Early Bird Registration Ends July 31, 2023.

Registration Details

Total registration fee is $180. Price breakdown is as follows: 

  • 6 hours of contact CE’s for the Association for Play Therapy.

Early Bird Registration – $150

APT member discount – 10% per person. Must email proof of APT membership in order to receive the coupon code.

Student discount – 15% per person. Must email proof of student status in order to receive the coupon code.

Register Now!

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About the Presenter

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.


This training is for psychologists, social workers, counselors, school counselors, psychiatrists, family therapists, and other mental health professionals who work with children and families. In order to ensure quality education, each training will be capped at 50 participants, with a minimum of 10 participants. If the training fills up, your name/registration will be added to a waitlist in case there are any cancellations.

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.

Important Note

This workshop qualifies as 6 Contact hours for APT.


A minimum of 10 participants is required in order for this training to be confirmed. If fewer than 10 participants register, this training could be rescheduled to a later date. Registered attendees will be notified of the need to cancel/reschedule up to two weeks prior to the date of the training and offered a choice of refund or credit toward a future training.


Play Therapy credit will not be awarded to non-mental health professionals.

Cancellation Policy

$75 of the registration fee is nonrefundable. Registrations are on a first come- first-served basis. Fees include 6 hours of training. Written cancellations received 4+ weeks prior to the training will receive the balance of the fees refunded. Cancellations received within 4 weeks of the training will forfeit a total of $125, with the remainder being refunded. Unfortunately, refunds cannot be given within the final week leading up to the training. In the unlikely event that the training is cancelled by the presenter, a full refund will be provided, or credit will be applied toward future or recorded training’s; whichever the registrant chooses.

APT Approved Provider 18-537