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Train with us and earn professional credit


The West Coast Institute is recognized as a program that can meet the requirement for all training hours required by the Association for Play Therapy for the RPT credential. The same hours apply toward the required training hours (108) for Certification as a Gestalt Therapist with Children and Adolescents through WCI. The same hours also apply toward licensure requirements for the BBS through CAMFT requirements.


APT Approved Provider

CAMFT Approved Provider

**FOR IN-PERSON TRAININGS** WCI continues to value and respect the health of our participants. With that in mind, WCI expects that should any COVID-19 symptoms/positive tests be experienced at any time during the event, symptomatic persons will follow current CDC isolation/quarantine/masking guidelines. Additionally, any local masking requirements as well as event/location-specific protocols at the time of the event will also be required. WCI is not responsible for any cost incurred, travel disruptions, non-completion of the training, or any other impacts as a result of COVID-19/illness. Partial credit cannot be given.


" I appreciated having this office setting rather than an impersonal conference room."

"The training was well organized and paced. Felicia is a wonderful teaching. She was so available to further my professional and personal development. I highly recommend this training."

"I would recommend this course for any mental health professional working with change. This intensive course was a life changing experience for me."

"Since I have cut back on giving trainings, I am delighted that Felicia is offering this Basic training as well as other programs that will continue my work and the contributions of the Oaklander Model to the practice of child psychotherapy. Her work is intelligent, sensitive and inspiring. I recommend her trainings to everyone."

-Violet Oaklander, Ph.D. Founder of the Gestalt approach with children and adolescents who conducted a highly successful Basic training each summer from 1981 until her retirement in 2007.


"This workshop was incredible. It will change how I practice. I am now inspired!"

"Very well done, and worth the 3200 mile travel."

Early Bird Discount!!
Enter Codes at Registration to receive 15% off!!:

Summer Intensive: EarlyBirdSummer2024 

The Intensive programs are designed to build theoretical understanding and clinical skills in working with children/adolescents from the perspective of contemporary Gestalt Play Therapy. The programs of WCI incorporate the principles and practices of playful and creative therapeutic interventions that foster the growth of each client regardless of age. Recent research in neuroscience, attachment theory and relational psychotherapy are presented as confirmation and extension of the Gestalt play therapy approach. Each day includes didactic discussion and experiential practicum sessions which aim at integrating theory with practice while increasing competence in using modalities of expressive play therapy. The focus of this program is the application of Gestalt Play Therapy principles represented in the work of Violet Oaklander, PhD., author of Windows to our Children: A Gestalt Approach to Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy and Hidden Treasure: A Map to The Child’s Inner Self. An emphasis in this training will be on the dynamics of the therapeutic relationship as the heart of treatment and the processes of integration.

This training is limited to 12 participants which allows for interactive, experiential learning.


Participants are asked to read Dr. Oaklander’s books, Windows to Our Children and Hidden Treasure available through Other readings will be made available to those attending the training(s).

Group photo

Group Registration Discount!!
Groups of 2 or more: Complete the group registration information to receive 20% off!!



Summer 2024: July 27th - August 4th, 2024

Location: Fresno, CA

Presenter: Felicia Carroll, MEd. MA, LMFT, and RPT-S & Valente Orozco, LCSW and RPT-S and Other Core Faculty 

*  60CE: See registration page for additional information.

Learning Objectives
  1.  Attendees will be able to discuss at least six

 theoretical principles of Gestalt Therapy essential 

 to clinical work with children/adolescents.


  1. Attendees will be able to utilize principles and practice
    of play therapy consistent with the Oaklander approach
    of Gestalt Therapy with children/adolescents.

3.  Attendees will be able to explain seven points in the                      

     Gestalt Awareness Cycle of organismic

     functioning in children/adolescents.


4.  Attendees will be able to describe one effective

     therapeutic intervention and/or playful modality for each

     disruption of the Awareness Cycle. 


5.  Attendees will be able to name and explain two global 

     difficulties that underlie the symptoms that bring most 

     children/adolescents into psychotherapy according 

     to the Oaklander Approach to Gestalt Therapy.



6.  Attendees will be able to list five elements of the Gestalt

     therapy process with children/adolescents as developed by

    Violet Oaklander, Ph.D.


7.  Attendees will be able to describe four elements of the 

     dialogic relationship process in Gestalt Therapy

     with children/adolescents and how each supports the

     development of an effective therapeutic relationship. 


8.  Attendees will be able to demonstrate the four stages in

     a phenomenological method in using playful, creative
    modalities  including:  drawings, sand tray, clay, puppets, 

     life narrative and music.

9.  Attendees will be able to give examples of how to lower or
    raise the level of difficulty in designing therapeutic experiments

      in Gestalt Therapy with children and adolescents.


10.  Attendees will be able to describe at least

       three playful/expressive interventions to support the 

      emotional regulation of children/adolescents.


11.  Attendees will be able to assess the impact of trauma and

       shame on the development of the child/adolescent’s sense of



12.  Attendees will be able to name two symptom indications 
      of a shame state in a child/adolescent. 


13.   Attendees will be able to demonstrate the Oaklander 

       process of self-nurturing in reducing the effects of shame 

       on a child/adolescent’s sense of self.


14.  Attendees will be able to explain two ways in which

      the child/adolescent’s neural integrative processes are

      supported physically, emotionally, and cognitively through

      the Oaklander process in Gestalt Therapy.   



15.  Attendees will be able to explain at least five key

       findings of neuroscience that validate the principles

       and therapeutic practice of Gestalt Therapy 

       with  children/adolescents 


16.   Attendees will demonstrate four areas of competence,

        essential in being a Gestalt Therapist with children/adolescents 
       and the use of playful modalities for each area.

The Advanced Trainings are planned for those wanting to continue with the work of the Intensive Trainings and reunite with friends while doing so.

  • WCI is approved by the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists to sponsor continuing education for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, and/or LEPs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. Provider Number 1000126.​

  • A Certificate of Completion will be given upon receipt of the evaluation for the program. No partial credit can be provided. See Refund Policy below.

- "Another wonderful experience. Excellent!"

- "You made it fun, kept it from becoming heavy."

- "In-depth understanding of roots, as well as overarching constructs. Will provide me with guideposts in assessment and treatment planning."

- "Well thought through, lots of depth. Responded to requests to relate more concretely to working with child clients."

TBD... Stay Tuned

The Adoption Experience in Gestalt Play Therapy


It is not uncommon for an adopted child’s grief to be unseen in therapy. This workshop which is led by an a specialist in the therapy of foster families and adopted children (who herself is an adoptee) will focus on the many issues that become present in therapy, but especially how grief manifests in the behavior, emotions, and the beliefs of self. The approach of Gestalt Play Therapy in this specialized area will be presented through research, theoretical perspective, and case presentation.

Date/Location: TBD

Presenter: Janet P. Nordine, MS, LMFT, RPT-S

CE: 6hr (Live Webinar)

Two-Part Training Workshop

Part 1:

In-Person & Live Webinar
March 15th-17th, 2024

Shame, Guilt, & Introjects

Many of the symptoms and difficulties that bring a child into therapy are based in the experience of shame or guilt. Like shame, guilt is an experience of self that emerges in relationships with significant others. The difference between shame and guilt will be explored in this workshop as well as what research has found is the relationship between shame and anger.  Negative introjects, or judgments about the core self, are the result of the child’s inability to resolve the shameful situation.  

    Shame and guilt are relational, primary affects that are receiving more attention in the psychotherapy literature.  The research in the neurosciences and studies in child attachment theory have brought greater interest in the effects of shame in the emotional and psychological development of children and adolescents. Child therapists can better understand many of the symptoms that bring a child into therapy by learning more about healthy shame and guilt.  

 The children in our playrooms, classrooms, and clinical offices are telling us about their shame; and yet, many of us do not recognize these powerful affects, nor do we know how to intervene to prevent a faulty sense of self from prevailing. The work of affect theorists, such as Gershen Kaufman, and neuroscientists, such as Daniel Siegel, et al, inform psychotherapy to know better how to shape our clinical practice as therapists and counselors to strengthen children toward a greater sense of self-worth.  

     In this workshop participants will learn more about this research and specific methods of Gestalt Play Therapy for helping their young clients work through their shame and guilt into a fuller sense of self, well-being, and integration. Gestalt play therapy provides a clinical approach that can be used simply and effectively with these issues.



Solvang, CA (In-Person)

Zoom (Live Webinar)

CE: 16hr

Presenter: Felicia Carroll, LMFT, RPT-S

Part 2:

TBD... Stay Tuned

Self-Nurturing Does What Self-Compassion Does Not... Transforming the Torment of Shame

In this second workshop, participants will experience the Self-Nurturing process as developed by Violet Oaklander, Ph. D. as an essential aspect of Gestalt Play Therapy in shifting a child’s shame-based sense of self to a more alive, energetic, and integrated source of choice and action.  

It is recommended that participants have attended Part 1 of this Series.

    There is a difference between being compassionate towards a hated aspect of self and being able to nurture and even transform a way of being.   This workshop will explore this distinction and provide experiential learning opportunities to be better prepared to bring the process of Self-Nurturing into their clinical work.   The approach of Self-Nurturing will be contrasted with teachers in self-compassion, whether researchers or spiritual teachers. 


Solvang, CA

CE: 16hr

Presenter: Felicia Carroll, LMFT, RPT-S

Pricing & Discounts

Part 1: In-Person or Live Webinar: $560 

Part 2: $560


Both workshops IN-PERSON: $900

* Discounts applied after registration for both workshops are completed.

The Phenomenological Process: Sand Tray & Other Modalities as Tools for Engagement & Integration

Coming Soon...

This experiential workshop prepares the therapist to develop their understanding and use of integrative processes using these therapeutic tools as presented by Violet Oaklander in her books, Windows to Our Children and Hidden Treasure.

CE: 12 contact hours

Music instruments
Group photo smiling

Introductory Workshops

Introduction to Gestalt Play Therapy: Oaklander Approach

The Introductory Workshop in Gestalt Play Therapy is designed to introduce the theoretical principles and clinical skills that distinguish Gestalt Play Therapy from other approaches. This day is experiential which aims at integrating theory with practice while using the tools of expressive play therapy. The emphasis of this program will be on individual psychotherapy and the application of Gestalt Therapy principles represented in the work of Violet Oaklander, Ph. D., author of Windows To Our Children and Hidden Treasure: A Map to the Child’s Inner Self. In this training we will examine closely those factors that bring about change and growth for a child or adolescent through the therapeutic process of Gestalt Play Therapy. An emphasis in this work will be on the dynamics of the therapeutic relationship as the heart of play therapy.

Course Objectives:


1. Identify at least one way the perspective of Gestalt Play Therapy is different from other

approaches to play therapy.


2. Name the elements of the Gestalt Therapy process as developed by Violet Oaklander.


3. Describe the qualities of the dialogic process with children and how this supports the therapeutic relationship. 


4. Implement a phenomenological approach when using creative, projective play modalities. 


5. Explain the perspective of contact functions and how they are used by children in their daily lives. 


6. Demonstrate an understanding of the goals of Gestalt Play Therapy and how it can inform the selection of interventions used in Gestalt Play Therapy.  

Future Workshops: TBD

Presenter: Valente Orozco, LCSW, RPT-S

CE: 6hr

More Offerings...

Gestalt Therapy with Teens:  The Inward Journey to the World Outside

The period of development in human and other species is often called the time of STRUM UND DRANG—a time of great emotional dysregulation/distress and challenging of social norms.  The Nobel nominated book, WILDHOOD (2019), suggests some of the same. The authors, Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers identify four core life skills that adolescents across species must master to confidently emerge into adulthood:  How to stay safe; How to navigate social hierarchies; How to communicate sexually; and How to leave and care for one’s self.  

This workshop will explore this period of adolescence from the perspective of how we as Gestalt Therapists can work with our clients as they meet their many challenges to develop a strong sense of self and self-support.  We will explore and work with those modalities that work best with adolescents and how can we use creative play in order to strengthen the organismic wholesomeness of each adolescent.   We will learn from research and clinical experience how Gestalt Play Therapy can be effective accomplishing the tasks of adolescence.   References from numerous Gestalt Therapists will be provided. 

Recommended Reading:  


Natterson-Horowitz B &Bower, K. (2019) Wildhood:  The epic journey from adolescence to adulthood in humans and other animals.  Scribner: New York.


McConville, M. (1995).  Adolescence:  Psychotherapy and the emergent self.  Jossey-Bass:  San Francisco. 

Stay Tuned....Date/Location: TBD

CE: 12 contact hours

Experiential Approaches for Anger Expression in Children and Adolescents

Think back to your childhood. Did you feel frustrated? As a teen, was it ok just feel upset? Did you ever feel pressure to hold that in? This workshop jumps into the nuance of child anger and how it can be expressed... in healthy ways. We will start this workshop exploring multiple theories on anger expression, keenly focusing on anger expression with children. We will discuss what current literature suggests about the need for anger expression. 


Next, we will talk through a gestalt play therapy approach to conceptualize anger expression in children and adolescents. This will involve learning about the gestalt contact cycles and contact disturbances. Three phases of facilitating anger exploration will be covered. 

To finish, we will practice a number of play-based activities which offer children or adolescents space to build awareness and choice on emotional expression. We will utilize activities that allow you to practice skills to express anger, while having space to reflect on this approach. All of the activities we practice and review will fit within a gestalt play therapy approach. Prepare for talking, molding, and creating, as we make connections between the expression of negative emotions and child wellbeing.

Presenter Bio:

Theodore Stripling: 

Theo Stripling is a school counselor and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in Chicago, IL. He received his master’s in counseling at Wake Forest University in 2012, currently working as a high school counselor. He is passionate about practitioner-focused research, publishing his first article on attendance interventions in 2019. Other research interests are Gestalt approaches for children, school policies for equitable practices, and best practices for supporting anxious students. He is currently on research teams at the Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium, exploring mental health training for teachers. Theo enjoys playing soccer, guitar, and watching college football… Go DAWGS!

Anger 1.png

Date: February 10th, 2024

Location: ONLINE (Live Webinar)

CE: 6hr Live Webinar

(9am-4:00pm CST)

Creative Strategies to Explore Identities with Adolescents

adolescents 1.png

This workshop explores a Gestalt-Play based approach to explore identity with adolescent students. Often identity is explored using common personality tests, like the Meyers-Briggs or Strengthfinder. This workshop re-imagines how teens can explore “Who Am I?” using creative approaches, centered in a phenomenological approach.


We will start this workshop, discussing theory and current literature on adolescent identity development. We will explore the benefits of self-exploration and connect this with the utility of a phenomenological approach. 


After we talk literature and theory, we will shift to practice. Several play-based interventions can be used to explore identity. In this workshop, we'll review the Oaklander approach for Play Based Therapy and multiple interventions to explore adolescent identity. One approach reimagines an older personality assessment, The House-Tree-Person Test. Another approach utilizes cards to lead teens to explore parts of themselves. Time permitting, we will cover a few other approaches to explore identity.


This play-based approach has surfaced meaningful and sometimes comical conversations to explore the quintessential question of adolescence, “Who am I?” Come ready to draw, learn about yourself, and build skills to work with teens.

Date: January 13th, 2024

Location: ONLINE (Live Webinar)

CE: 6hr Live Webinar

(9am-4:00pm CST)

4th International Trainers Symposium

Origins:  Celebrating our Ancestors who Developed Gestalt Therapy with Children 

The mission of the West Coast Institute is to provide to qualified professionals training and support in Gestalt Play Therapy with Children and Adolescents. The Certification Process offers those who want to develop a specialization in Gestalt Play Therapy with Children and Adolescents the structure and guidance in studying theory and applying the perspectives of Gestalt Play Therapy to work with their younger clients and their families WCI also provides in-depth training and inspiration to encourage those who are WCI Certified therapists and practitioners to provide competent training programs in their countries, vicinities, towns, and villages. We welcome the diversity, creativity, and aliveness this brings to all of us. A Trainers’ Symposium is held every two years. We gather together to share ideas for training programs and new play and expressive interventions. Those who attend build an international network of dynamic and committed colleagues.

This symposium is offered to those who have attended the Intensive trainings or a full International program, and want support to become trainers in their own community/country. Preference will be given to those who are working towards certification through WCI. Participants will develop the following.


  • Build international community with other Trainers and potential Trainers of Gestalt Play Therapy with Children and Adolescents.

  • Share theoretical developments, research, therapeutic activities and modalities

  • Support program development

Trainers Symposium

2nd Trainers Symposium

Program Description:

     While living in South Africa (1933-1947), Laura Perls, PhD  observed the child-rearing practices of the indigenous peoples.  Her chapter, “The Dummy Complex” in Ego, Hunger, and Aggression (1947) reflects her observations and thinking that contributed to the development of the theory of oral resistances.   Her contributions to the emerging Gestalt Therapy and the eventual Gestalt Therapy with Children are often overshadowed by the writings and teaching of Fritz Perls, MD.   Nevertheless, her work is significant to our work with children. 

     Even though it took another three decades before Windows to Our Children (1978) would be published, there were others who early on began to apply the organismic principles of Gestalt Therapy to the therapeutic and educational practice with children.  These clinicians and educators made significant contributions to our therapeutic perspective and practice.  The focus of this workshop will be to discover and celebrate those who have contributed greatly, Past and Present, in forming the branch of Gestalt Therapy that is concerned with the well-being of children. 

  • Stay Tuned...Dates and Location TBD

  • Hosted By: Felicia Carroll, MEd. MA, LMFT, and RPT-S

  • CE: 12 contact hours

group symposium

2019 Countries Represented

  • Hong Kong

  • Brazil

  • Slovenia

  • Singapore

  • South Korea

  • Mexico

  • Uruguay

  • Canada

  • United States 


The 2019 Symposium was an international event and the focus was on updating our theory and training materials. Gordon Wheeler, Ph. D. noted author and trainer who has contributed to Gestalt theory in child development and child clinical practice was the 2019 guest presenter. In appreciation he received the first WCI Honorary Award as a Certified Gestalt Therapist with Children and Adolescents. Violet Oaklander was contacted through SKYPE and each attendee spoke directly with her about how she had influenced their clinical work. Another highlight was hearing from our colleague Anum Malik in Karachi, Pakistan about her training program with child therapists in Pakistan via SKYPE with Felicia Carroll. The Symposium group enjoyed food, wine, countryside, and entertainment from the Santa Ynez Valley.

symposium online

International Trainings

International Training
Group photo holding certificates

International trainings are endorsed by WCI and are available internationally upon request of a local organizer. This is an exciting and educational exchange for everyone. The goal is to provide adequate training so that qualified persons at each location can eventually take on the training for professionals for their locales.

Felicia Carroll travels internationally providing workshops/trainings to groups of therapists interested in learning more about Gestalt Play Therapy with Children and Adolescents as developed by Violet Oaklander, Ph.D and other leading child clinicians. Many of these training programs evolve into training programs either through Gestalt Institutes around the world or more independent clinical programs.

Trainings include.

  • Basic Training: The Oaklander Model (4 days)

  • Shame, Introjects, and Anger (4 days)

  • Integrative processes and Writing Life Narratives with Children and Adolescents (3 days)

  • The Gestalt View on Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment Planning (3 days)

Other issues/topics can also be addressed as the program is tailored for each group and cultural needs.

Felicia Mole

International Training Programs Endorsed by WCI

Instituto de Therapia Juego Gestalt Ninos and Adolescentes


Tembusu Training and Therapy Institute

  • Location: Singapore City, Singapore

  • Website:

  • Contact Person: Lee Sock Kuan


Re-Criar Centro

  • Location: Caxias do Sul, Brasil

  • Website:

  • Contact Person: Claudia Clair Pasa Tessari


The Violet Oaklander Gestalt Play Therapy Institute for Children and Adolescents in Georgia (GPTG)

  • Location: Georgia

  • Contact Person: Mzia Dalakishvili 

Simon Pevec

Symbolon-Institut fur Gestalttherapie


Valley Institute for Training and Gestalt Therapy


Other International Contacts

  • Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia

  • Contact Person: Simon Pevec

  • Location: Uruguay

  • Contact Person: Andrea Acosta Sarasola, Ph.D.

Saemsotneun Child & Adolescents Counseling Center

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