History of Theraplay in Australia

In 2005, Berry Street Victoria hosted The Theraplay® Institute (TTI) to conduct the first Level 1 Training in Australia, conducted by Phyllis Rubin & Jean Crumme. Kate Lewer was one of the fortunate participants and was so inspired by the model that she set out on the journey to certification through TTI and to promote Theraplay in Australia.

In 2014, Kate, while working at Mitchell Community Health Service, hosted the second Australian Level 1 Theraplay training at Nexus Super Clinic in Wallan, Victoria. Annie Kiermaier, a passionate fulltime trainer with TTI, conducted the training with Kate as an assistant.

Annie continued to travel from USA in 2015 to deliver Level 1 in Geelong and Melbourne; Level 1 and 2 and Sunshine Circles® in Kilmore in 2016 along with a Master Class on Working with Parents. Annie developed a strong connection with Australia and New Zealand and through many trainings planted seeds which are now flourishing.

In 2017 we partnered with Ben Monaghan from Compass Seminars Australia which has enabled Theraplay training to be offered widely throughout Australia. Theraplay One Day Overviews have been conducted in most states, with many participants being inspired to go on to Level 1 and or Sunshine Circles training. Annie and Kate delivered Sunshine Circles training in Wallan and Yea for bushfire affected communities, Echuca, Barwon/Colac, Sydney and Alice Springs and Level 1, Level 2 and Group trainings in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

In late 2017, Kate was certified as a Trainer and Alison Saxton from Sydney completed the certification soon after in early 2018. In 2019 we delivered the first Australian conducted Level 1 trainings in the Gold Coast, Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney and Townsville. Yes, we were exhausted but it was exhilarating to have so many more being able to support children and families through Theraplay. We are now excited to have Amy Seward from Newcastle to join the training team while we work towards having a trainer in each State and Territory in the future.

In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has slowed the delivery of Theraplay training. We have conducted Level 1 trainings in Sydney and Canberra and Sunshine Circles training in Wollongong. Theraplay training is an intensive experiential learning of a relationship-based modality and we want to ensure that we maintain the integrity of the Theraplay model and the Theraplay training experience while adapting to the health recommendations for infection control and ensuring the health and safety of all. We plan to continue to roll out in-person Level 1, Level 2 and Sunshine Circles trainings in the latter half of 2020 and in 2021 with these safety adaptations. [1]

Following initial training, supervision is recommended to support growth and development in providing Theraplay treatment. There is also a pathway to achieve certification at three different levels through the Theraplay Institute and there are a growing number of Foundational, Intermediate and fully Certified Theraplay Practitioners in Australia.

The journey towards certification is exciting, full of rewards and is invaluable for supporting professional development. Certification requires supervision by a qualified Theraplay Supervisor and currently Alison and Kate are the supervisors in Australia, with supervision for certification also available world-wide through TTI endorsed supervisors.

Let the journey continue …………

[1] Note that due to widespread Covid-19 infections in the USA, TTI is developing a Theraplay training program incorporating online modules with face to face practical workshops, however this is a pilot program under development (and not available in Australia).

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