Dr. Allison G. Vrieze, Psy.D., RPT

Dr. Vrieze completed her doctoral training in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in family psychology at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California. During her training, she worked as a school-based therapist at both elementary schools and middle schools providing individual therapy to children and adolescents. She also provided psychoeducational presentations to the teachers and school staff utilizing the Typical or Troubled program. Utilizing this program, Dr. Vrieze helped equip teachers, coaches, and school personnel to recognize the warning signs of mental health concerns in their students and steps to take in addressing the concerns. Dr. Vrieze completed her pre-doctoral internship at OhioGuidestone in Brook Park, Ohio. During this time, Dr. Vrieze engaged in three rotations; Early Childhood Mental Health, Outpatient Counseling, and Psychological Assessment. In Early Childhood Mental Health, she provided home-based therapy services to children (ages 3-5 years old) and their families. During her Outpatient Counseling Rotation, Dr. Vrieze worked with children and adolescents in providing individual and family therapy. She also completed psychological evaluations for children and adolescents ages 5 to 17 years old to assess presenting problems and aid in treatment planning. Dr. Vrieze completed her post-doctoral fellowship at Moore Counseling Center. Her responsibilities included providing individual and family therapy as well as completing psychological evaluations to provide diagnostic clarification with an array of presenting problem including ADHD, anxiety, depression, defiance, trauma, and learning disabilities. During her post-doctoral fellowship, Dr. Vrieze completed play therapy training and earned her certification as a Registered Play Therapist (RPT). Overall, Dr. Vrieze has had experiencie working with individuals dealing with presenting concerns such as behavioral difficulties, anxiety, depression, trauma, separation anxiety, life transitions/stressors, grief/loss, and ADHD.

Dr. Vrieze specializes in working with children ages 3 to 12 years old, as well as their caregivers. She works collaboratively with the child and their family to identify goals and apply interventions that are unique to each individual’s needs to help achieve positive outcomes. Dr. Vrieze’s therapeutic approach is attachment and strengths based and focuses on strengthening the healthy bonds, relationships, and communication between a child and their family. Dr. Vrieze utilizes both Play Therapy and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy to help a child navigate through the complexities of difficulties they may be experiencing at home, school, and community environments. Dr. Vrieze also incorporates parent education and parent skill-building to aid in helping a parent understand and respond to their child’s difficulties. Dr. Vrieze also currently provides psychological evaluations which includes a thorough diagnostic interview with the caregiver and child, engages the child in completing assessments tailored to their presenting problems, and provides detailed feedback of the results and recommendations.

As a Registered Play Therapist, Dr. Vrieze utilizes child-centered play therapy to allow children to process challenges and communicate using their natural language of play. Questions you may have about play therapy are provided below.

What is Play Therapy?

Play Therapy is a structured and theoretically based approach that helps children express what is troubling them when they may not have the verbal and cognitively advanced language to express their thoughts and feelings (Gil, 1991). In play therapy, toys are like the child’s words and play is the child’s language (Landreth, 2002). Play therapy is utilized to help children process difficult emotions/experiences and can provide them with healthy coping skills to face life’s challenges.

How does Play Therapy work?

Play therapy allows trained mental health practitioners who specialize in play therapy, to assess and understand children’s play. Further, play therapy is utilized to help children cope with difficult emotions and find solutions to problems (Moustakas, 1997; Reddy, Files-Hall, & Schaefer, 2005). By processing and confronting difficult emotions and behaviors in play therapy, children can find healthier solutions to their problems and learn appropriate ways to cope and express their feelings. Even the most troubling problems can be confronted in play therapy and lasting resolutions can be discovered, rehearsed, mastered and adapted into lifelong strategies (Russ, 2004). Dr. Vrieze uses a variety of play therapy techniques to allow a safe environment for a child to express themselves. Some of these techniques include: toys, storytelling, role-playing, arts/crafts, and dance/music.

Who can benefit from Play Therapy?

Although people of all ages can benefit from play therapy, it is typically used with children between the ages of 3 and 12 years old. Play therapy can be used to address a variety of concerns, such as: behavioral problems, aggressive/anger behaviors, family issues (i.e. divorce, separations, loss, sibling conflict), natural disasters, traumatic experiences, anxiety, depression, grief, ADHD, and coping with medical illness.