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Providing play therapy for young children experiencing social, emotional,
and/or behavioral problems, and support services for the grown-ups who love them.
Our mission is to provide high quality, developmentally appropriate counseling for children and families.
Play Therapy. Child Parent Psychotherapy. Child Parent Relationship Therapy. Behavior Management Training.
Adults communicate verbally. In difficult times we reach out to those closest to us, because talking to someone who really understands and cares can soften the blow of a painful experience. And the reverse is also true. Sharing positive experiences with those who care actually heightens our joy.
Children, however, have a limited verbal ability to communicate how they think and feel about the world. (You’ll know this to be true if you have ever asked a child to tell you about his or her day at school). They are not trying to annoy us – they simply do not have the cognitive ability to do so. Young children (ages 2-10) process and share emotionally significant experiences though play. Play is their language.
Play therapy requires the therapist to go to the child’s most natural form of communication, instead of asking the child to come to ours. It is a respectful, effective, and developmentally appropriate way of being with young children.
Child Parent Psychotherapy
Child Parent Psychotherapy is an intervention for young children from birth through age 5 and their parents/caregivers. It is used to improve the quality of the parent-child relationship and helps families heal and grow after stressful experiences. This approach builds on family strengths, and respects family and cultural values.
Child-Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT)
When children are struggling, their grown-ups suffer. CPRT teaches parents how to use some of the same skills that play therapists use to help children experiencing social, emotional, or behavioral problems.
While play therapy focuses on the relationship between the child and the therapist, CPRT is designed to strengthen the parent-child relationship and empower parents to become the change agent in their child’s life. Due to the emotionally significant role of the parent, CPRT can be more effective than individual therapy with a highly trained play therapist.
CPRT can help parents regain control, discipline effectively, and understand and respond to their child’s needs. Parents experience increased confidence in their parenting skills, see improvement in their child’s behavior, and most importantly, enjoy an improved relationship with their child.
Circle of Security Parenting
Circle of Security Parenting is geared for parents with children 0-10 years old. The program is based on decades of research about how secure parent-child relationships can be supported and strengthened. It helps parents understand their child’s emotional needs, enhance the development of their child’s self esteem, and support their child’s ability to manage emotions.
Active Parenting for Preteens and Teens
Active Parenting provides parents with the skills needed to use effective discipline, teach responsibility, and strengthen communication with their tweens and teens. Parents learn skills for clear, honest communication, concrete strategies to prevent risky behavior, methods of respectful discipline, and gain insight into important issues such as social media, bullying, and depression.
Cooperative Co-Parenting helps parents shield their children from parental conflict and guides them in establishing a long-term relationship with each other for the child’s sake. It educates parents about the impact their conflict has on the children, guides them through parenting after a separation or divorce, and teaches practical skills to manage anger, increase impulse control, and resolve conflict without arguing.
Licensure and Play Therapy Supervision
Anna L. Farrin, LCSW RPT-S is a Qualified Supervisor for clinical social work interns and others working toward their Registered Play Therapist credential. Contact her directly at email@example.com for rates and availability.
Lori Pinkerd, LMHC, RPT-S is a Qualified Supervisor for clinical mental health interns, and those working toward their Registered Play Therapist credential. Contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for rates and availability.
Tayler Papke, LCSW, RPT is the Regional Board Chair of The First Coast Chapter of the Florida Association for Play Therapy. This group meets monthly to provide networking and training opportunities for students, professionals, and all local play therapy enthusiasts. For more information contact Tayler Papke at email@example.com.
Behavior Management Training
Provided by Anna L. Farrin, LCSW, RPT-S for teachers, professionals, and parents/caregivers of children with challenging behaviors. This 2 hour training will teach skills to effectively manage difficult behavior in young children. Participants will learn to respond to behavioral challenges in a way that changes the behavior, and strengthens their relationship with the child. As a result of this training, participants will be able to effectively discipline and limit inappropriate behavior, meet children’s emotional needs, communicate more effectively with young children, and enjoy a stronger relationship with the children in their life.
Contact Anna Farrin at firstname.lastname@example.org for rates and availability.
MEET THE Team
Anna L. Farrin, LCSW, Registered Play Therapist Supervisor
Anna Farrin received her undergraduate degree in Human Development, with a specialization in Health and Human Services, from Vanderbilt University in 1996. While working in the field of early intervention she was struck by the lack of mental health services for young children. Anna attended graduate school at UNC-Charlotte and received her Masters of Social Work degree in 2010, along with a Graduate Certificate in Play Therapy.
Anna is currently a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Registered Play Therapist Supervisor, and a Qualified Supervisor for Social Work Interns. She has treated children with a wide range of social, emotional, and behavioral problems in a variety of settings including early intervention, residential treatment, foster care, and most recently in the day treatment program in Duval County Public Schools. She is on the board of the Florida Association for Play Therapy (FAPT), and provides trainings for FAPT, graduate students, parents of young children, local agencies, teachers, and foster parents.
Anna opened The Healing Playroom in 2015 to provide developmentally appropriate counseling to children and families in the Jacksonville community. She has a client-centered approach to working with young children, and especially enjoys strengthening parent-child relationships through the language of play. Anna lives in Atlantic Beach with her husband and two children, who have graciously donated many toys to The Healing Playroom.
Lori L. Pinkerd, MS, LMHC, Registered Play Therapist Supervisor
Lori Pinkerd earned her undergraduate degree in Sociology in 1994, while serving in the United States Navy. While in the Navy she spent many years volunteering as a Sexual Assault Victim Advocate, providing crisis support to military and family members who were victims of sexual assault. Lori retired from the Navy as a Chief Petty Officer after serving 22 years on active duty.
Her passion for helping others led her to earn her Graduate degree in counseling in 2008. She spent 4 years working with victims and survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence, both adults and children. Her love of working with children resulted in her achieving Registered Play Therapist certification in 2010.
Lori is currently a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor, and a Qualified Supervisor for Mental Health Interns. She is experienced in working with children with a variety of social, emotional, and behavioral problems. Lori enjoys working with military families, and her experience as a veteran, a Navy spouse, and the mother of children raised in a military family gives her perspective into the unique challenges military families face.
Lori lives in Jacksonville with her retired-military husband, one of her sons, and 2 dogs.
Lori works at our NEPTUNE BEACH location
Mandy Jo Moldehnke, MS, LMHC, Registered Play Therapist
Mandy Jo Moldehnke received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the College of Charleston in 2006. After obtaining her undergraduate degree, she began working with young children through early intervention work. The passion to continue to help these children further led Mandy Jo to seek and obtain a graduate degree. Mandy Jo attended graduate school at UNC-Charlotte and received her Master’s in Community Counseling degree in 2010, along with a Graduate Certificate in Play Therapy.
Mandy Jo is currently a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Mandy Jo worked as a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of North Carolina providing intensive in-home services and outpatient play therapy services for the foster care and child welfare population. Mandy Jo and her family moved to Florida in 2013 and she obtained her licensure in the state of Florida. She specializes in working with children who have experienced trauma, children who have behavioral concerns, anxiety, or adjustment concerns. Her experience has ranged from direct care to a leadership position at the state Medicaid Health Plan.
Mandy Jo values the child-centered approach to working with young children. In her experience, she has witnessed the power of utilizing play together with the therapeutic relationship to provide a safe, consistent therapeutic environment in which a child can experience full acceptance, empathy, and understanding. This partnership opens a child’s potential to move toward integration and self-enhancing ways of being.
Mandy Jo lives in Jacksonville Beach with her husband and two children. She loves to travel in her spare time. “You can discover more in an hour of play than you can in a year of conversation” Plato.
Mandy Jo works at our PALM VALLEY/PVB location.
Tayler Papke, MSW, LCSW, Registered Play Therapist- Supervisor
Tayler works at our RIVERSIDE location.
Jessica Soto, MA, LMHC, NCC Certified Play Therapist
Jessica completed her undergraduate education at Liberty University where she majored in Psychology. She has a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and received a Graduate Certificate in Play Therapy from Stetson University.
Jessica is currently a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the state of Florida. She is a member of the First Coast Chapter of the Florida Association for Play Therapy. She has experience providing play therapy for children in the child welfare system and in Duval County Public Schools. As a certified Circle of Security Parenting Facilitator, Jessica is skilled at strengthening parent-child relationships by helping parents understand and respond effectively to their child’s emotional and behavioral needs.
Jessica’s specialty in play therapy allows her to work with children as young as 3 years old, but she also enjoys working with children under the age of 3 with active involvement from a parent, family member, or caretaker. Jessica lives in Jacksonville with her husband and two children. She loves to play board games and travel in her spare time.
Jessica works at our PALM VALLEY/PVB location.
Erica Mitchell, LCSW, Registered Play Therapist
Erica completed her undergraduate education at the University of North Florida where she majored in Psychology with a minor in Gender Studies. She went on to complete her master’s degree in Clinical Social Work at Florida State University. Erica also received a Graduate Certificate in Play Therapy from Stetson University.
In addition to her play therapy expertise, Erica is also trained in Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) and Circle of Security Parenting. She has worked in partnership with the Early Childhood Courts to serve some of our most vulnerable populations, including children 0-5 and their grown-ups involved in child welfare/dependency. Erica is also a member of First Coast Chapter for Florida Association for Play Therapy.
While Erica’s specialty in Play Therapy allows her to work with children as young as 3 years old, she can also work with children under the age of 3 with the use of Child Parent Psychotherapy (CPP), as long as a parent, family member, or caretaker is actively involved in the treatment process. The primary goal of CPP is to support and strengthen the relationship between a child and his/her caregiver as a vehicle for restoring the child’s cognitive, behavioral, and social functioning.
Erica works at our RIVERSIDE location.
Kelly McCandless, MSW, RCSWI
After completing her graduate program in Denver, Kelly moved back to Jacksonville and worked as a therapist for children involved in the foster care system. Kelly particularly enjoys getting to know her families in order to share in their successes and join with them to overcome challenges. She has strong experience providing trauma-informed care and is passionate about providing culturally-appropriate services that meet and support the unique needs of her families.
Kelly is currently practicing under supervision and working towards full licensure as an LCSW, and plans to become a Registered Play Therapist. When she’s not working, Kelly enjoys reading at the beach, playing video games, and spending time with her partner and two cats.
Kelly works at our NEPTUNE BEACH location.
Lisha Day, MS, NCC
Lisha received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Central Florida in 2015. She completed her master’s degree in Marriage, Family, and Couples Counseling at Stetson University in 2020, along with Graduate Certificates in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Play Therapy & Creative Expression. She is also a member of the First Coast Chapter of the Florida Association for Play Therapy.
Lisha has experience using play and creative/expressive arts to provide developmentally appropriate counseling for children at multiple Jacksonville schools and community mental health settings. She has worked with children and families navigating complex & intergenerational trauma, grief & loss, attachment challenges, school and behavioral concerns, and ADHD management. Lisha uses a holistic approach, acknowledging that children & families benefit most when the whole system is involved. She believes that caregivers are the most significant agent of change for children, and encourages caregiver involvement to strengthen the parent-child relationship.
Lisha is a Nationally Certified Counselor, and is currently practicing under supervision and working towards full licensure as a Registered Play Therapist and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her son, gardening, doing yoga, and taking nature walks.
Lisha works at our RIVERSIDE location.
Shawna Nelson, Graduate Student Intern
Shawna Nelson received her undergraduate degree in child psychology and development with a minor in early education from the University of North Florida in 2014. She is currently a graduate student at Wake Forest University, where she is studying clinical mental health and play therapy.
Shawna is passionate about child development, character education, and parent outreach. She is a credentialed Montessori guide with 5 years of classroom experience, and has worked as a parent partner for children ages 0-10 years for the past decade. Her ardent belief in the wonders of childhood led her to create The Wise Child, an educational resource and collaborative program for children and parents which promotes the development of autonomy, emotional resilience, a sense of purpose, and community.
Shawna lives in Atlantic beach with her husband and 3 dogs. She is an avid meditator and a lover of philosophy—stoicism in particular. She enjoys literature, music, nature and being of service.
Jennifer Lipsey, MA, Admin & Operations
Jennifer Lipsey received her undergraduate degree in Child and Family Development from San Diego State University in 2004 and continued to complete her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. While completing her graduate studies, Jen co-facilitated a Domestic Violence Prevention program for mandated perpetrators and provided individual, couples and family therapy through a private practice based in downtown, San Diego.
Post-grad school, Jen provided therapeutic support to adolescent residents based out of two group homes until she became a full-time Clinical Case Manager supporting dually-diagnosed (substance abuse and comorbid mental illness) adults in an outpatient setting.
Jen moved to the DC area where her passion for supporting vulnerable populations and her administrative strengths led her to the Association for Child Life Professionals where her career evolved from Certification Coordinator to Manager, onto Director of Operations and ultimately CEO.
Although Jen remains actively engaged in the association space, she chose to step down from the C suite to focus on her two daughters while they navigate through the pre-teen and (subsequent) adolescent years. Jen’s education, training, and experience in family dynamics and systemic theory shapes her appreciation for early childhood interventions – especially play therapy – that provide the building blocks for long-term success. Jen lives in Northern Virginia where she embraces the silliness, grit, wonder and awe that comes with raising her 11- and 8-year-old daughters with her husband.
Laura Contess, MSW, RCSWI
Laura completed her undergraduate degree in both Child Psychology and Sociology from the University of North Florida in 2016 and received her Master’s in Social Work from Florida State University in 2020. While finishing her graduate degree, Laura completed her final internship at The Healing Playroom and is happy to be back!
Prior to receiving her master’s degree, Laura worked with children in Jacksonville who were involved in the dependency system. After receiving her graduate degree, Laura began providing therapy to children through the Duval County Public Schools Full-Service Schools program, helping those who experienced problems relating to adjustment, self-esteem, grief and loss, anger management, and trauma.
Laura is currently practicing under supervision and working towards full licensure as a LCSW and RPT. In her spare time, Laura enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing board games, and traveling.
Kristýna Richards, MS, RMFTI
Kristýna has spent over a decade working alongside and supporting families & children in youth development, education and foster care programs. She received her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Project Management from Seattle City University in 2014. After receiving her undergraduate degree, she moved to Peru for 3 years. There she volunteered with an NGO supporting Kids in Peru, which provided social services and education programs to socioeconomically discriminated children and mothers in El Porvenir, Peru.
While volunteering and working in Peru she realized her passion for mental health and decided to become a Marriage and Family Therapist. Kristýna earned her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Seattle Pacific University in 2021. Kristýna has been a practicing therapist since 2019. As a community mental health clinician she worked in partnership with the Bellevue School district to provide on-site therapy services to students. She is skilled in providing therapy to children who are experiencing the effects of trauma, adjustment issues, grief, anxiety, depression, developmental delays, family conflict, divorce, low-self esteem, divided attention and hyperactivity.
Kristýna is currently practicing as a Registered Intern under supervision and working toward full licensure as a LMFT, and plans to become a Registered Play Therapist. When she’s not working, Kristýna enjoys going camping with her husband in their camper van, exercising and trying new arts & crafts.
Kids In The Syndrome Mix
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