Systematic Approaches to Making Changes

Expressive Play Therapy

“Through play, children show what they think and feel and how they make sense of the world they live in. It is their natural way of processing their experiences. Just as adults talk things out, children play things out. Since play is a natural means of expression for children, the most effective mode of therapy is play therapy.” -Marie-José Dhaese

Filial Therapy based on Child-Centered Play Therapy

Filial Therapy refers to a theoretically integrative form of therapy in which practitioners train and supervise parents (or other caregivers) as they conduct special nondirective play sessions with their own children. The therapist provides feedback to the parents to aid in the development of their competence and confidence. Using a collaborative approach, therapists also discuss children’s play themes with parents, helping parents understand their children’s motivations, feelings, intentions, and behaviors in context.” -Risë VanFleet

Autobiographical and Other Writings

Journals, diaries, letters, short stories, even novels are frequently used in a therapeutic context to promote the process of change. Autobiographical and biographical studies were used extensively by Sigmund Freud (Freud, 1948; Freud,1997). Currently, the practice of using letters therapeutically is used by Narrative Therapists, although their approach entails a different theoretical foundation (Bjoroy, Madigan, & Nylund, 2016). These various types of writings can be shared by youth, adults, or elderly in individual or group sessions (Ire, 1997) under the guidance of a counsellor.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) uses cognitive and behavioral strategies with a dialectical twist. An example of a dialectical twist is accepting where we are in the moment, while appreciating the need to change. In DBT skills are taught relating to 1) mindfulness, 2) interpersonal effectiveness, 3) emotion regulation, and 4) distress tolerance. Linehan also addresses self-management skills. -Marsha Linehan (1993)

Expressive Arts Therapy

Expressive arts therapy is an integrative, multimodal approach that utilizes a variety of methods including writing, music, visual arts, drama, and dance to help people achieve personal growth. In this type of treatment, people work with a trained therapist who helps them explore and understand their reactions to their experience with different forms of expressive art.” -Kendra Cherry (August 19, 2021)    -Medically reviewed by Rachel Goldman, PhD, FTOS

This approach is particularly useful for police, fire-fighters, correctional staff and other first responders trained to be analytical. “Expressive based therapies offer a variety of techniques that transcend words and foster an expression of healing that comes from within the client.” –Matthew Johnston (Winter, 2016), RCC, Professional Fire-fighter.

Training and Life-Coach

Training involves learning skills, while coaching assists in the application of these skills in a personal way. According to Canfield, what you focus on may be financial, professional, or philanthropic; nevertheless, the underlying principles to achieve success are the same. -Jack Canfield (2005, 2015). 



Bjoroy, A., Madigan, S., & Nylund, D. (2016). The Practice of Therapeutic Letter Writing in Narrativve Therapy. In the Handbook of Counselling Psychology, 4th Edition, Sage Publications.

Canfield, J. (2005). The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Cherry, K. (August 19, 2021). What is Expressive Arts Therapy? In verywellmind. [Online-accessed March 23,2022]. Available:

Dhase, M-J. (2021). Counselling for Children. In Centre for Expressive Therapy. [Online-accessed March 23, 2022]. Available:

Freud, S. (1948). An Autobiographical Study (4th ed.). (J. Strachey, Trans.). In the International Psycho-analytical Library, No. 26. London: Hogarth Press. (Original work published 1935). 

Freud, S. (1997). The Moses of Michelangelo. In Writing on Art and Literature. (J. Strachey. Ed.). From The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmond Freud (1953-1974). Stanford: Stanford University Press. 

Ire, J. (1997). Autobiographical writing as part of therapy: A tool for self-understanding and change. Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9737541.

Johnston, M. (Winter, 2016). The Crisis of Vicarious Trauma Among First Responders. [Online-accessed July 17, 2022]. Available:

Linehan, M. M.  (1993). Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder. New York: Guilford Press.

VanFleet, R. (2014). Filial Therapy: Strengthening Parent-Child Relationships Through Play. Sarasota, FL: Professional Resource Press, p. 2.