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Digital Recording

Polyvagal Theory for Children: Practical Application to Build Safety, Create Attachment & Develop Connection

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Dafna Lender, LCSW
1 Hour 01 Minutes
Oct 24, 2021
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Digital Recording
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Do you know therapists who seem to have “the magic touch” when it comes to getting children to trust and connect with them? What if there are actual behaviours that you can learn and incorporate into your way of being with children that can solicit openness, relaxation and trust? Join Dafna Lender, LCSW, for this compelling session, as she walks you through the complexities of using polyvagal theory with your young clients. Using your own social engagement system and tuning into the child’s physiological state you’ll learn: 

  • Regulating and calming techniques for more curiosity, openness & connection 
  • How sending safety messages to brains of mistrusting kids will make them more open to new relational experiences  
  • To use voice, rhythm, facial expressions and touch to elicit trust 
  • To surprise the brain of a defensive child with novel responses to grab attention, interrupt their automatic defensiveness, and generate curiosity 
  • Exercises and activities to make shut down, guarded or angry clients feel more relaxed, open and ready to connect 



This online program is worth 1.25 hours CPD.



Dafna Lender, LCSW's Profile

Dafna Lender, LCSW Related seminars and products

The Theraplay Institute

Dafna Lender, LCSW, is an international trainer and supervisor for practitioners who work with children and families. She is a certified trainer and supervisor/consultant in both Theraplay and Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) and an EMDR therapist. Dafna’s expertise is drawn from 25 years of working with families with attachment in many settings: at-risk after school programs, therapeutic foster care, in-home crisis stabilization, residential care and private practice. Dafna’s style, whether as a therapist or teacher, is combining the light-hearted with the profound by bringing a playful, intense and passionate presence to every encounter. Dafna is the author of Integrative Attachment Family Therapy (2023) and co-author of Theraplay® - The Practitioner’s Guide (2020).


Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Dafna Lender maintains a private practice. She is a published author and receives royalties. She receives a speaking honorarium and recording royalties from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Dafna Lender is an author for Psychotherapy Networker.


  1. Evaluate the foundational principles and features of the Polyvagal Theory in order to elicit trust in the young clients you work with. 
  2. Apply the features of the Polyvagal Theory to inform clinical treatment interventions for children. 
  3. Determine the Social Engagement System and how the brain-face-heart connection evolved. 
  4. Analyze when a child’s Social Engagement System is compromised by stress and trauma and help to reset it. 
  5. Construct how a therapy session can be planned and carried out to maximize client safety, social engagement and regulation. 
  6. Implement specific techniques for optimizing polyvagal regulation with children. 


  • Harnessing your Social Engagement System 
  • How to Reset when Compromised by Stress and Trauma 
  • Elicit Trust - Voice, Rhythm, Racial Expressions, Touch 
  • Create and maintain an open facial expression with defensive children 
  • Strategies to incorporate safe touch 
  • Playfulness and Paradox to Suspend Defensiveness 
  • Surprise the brain of a defensive child with novel responses 
  • Movement and Breathing Exercises to Create Connection 
  • Rhythmic activities for maintaining regulation 
  • Counteracting shut down, guarded or angry behaviour (responses) 

Target Audience

  • Counselors
  • Social Workers
  • Therapists
  • Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Case Managers
  • Psychologists
  • Other Mental Health Professionals


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