Rhinebeck Child and Family Center, LLC            

Child Therapy Techniques - The Center for Practical Tools for Child and Adolescent Therapists

Dr. David A. Crenshaw, Director  

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Dr. Crenshaw is the proud recipient of The Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hudson Valley Psychological Association.

Dr. Crenshaw is co-editing a series of books for Guilford.  Please click here for his Guilford books and ordering information.

 Rosie, first NY trial dog and what you can do to support Rosie's Law

"Heartfelt Feelings" Coloring Cards

Certified translations in 8 languages

Find out about Dr. Crenshaw and his books at Amazon Author Page

20% discount Code # 4W9CAPBK. Click for details and to order.

in print and e-book. Click to order with 20% discount Code 2E.

Dr. Crenshaw's latest books

Save 20% with Promotion Code 2E

Click here to order from Guilford

  Click here to order from Guilford

Dr. Crenshaw's book Bereavement: Counseling the Grieving throughout the Life Cycle is so successful that it is now in its third printing and earned an average customer rating of 4.0 out of 5 starsfrom Amazon.com      

Read Dr. Crenshaw's articles in Play Therapy magazine by clicking on title: "Should I Be Worried?"  "Selective Mutism" "Preverbal Trauma" "No Time or Place for Child's Play" "Sounds of Silence" "Symbolism of Windows and Doors in Play Therapy" "The Wonder of It All" "Rosie Goes to Court"  "Secrets Told to Ivy"  with permission of Play Therapy Magazine.  

Two New Poetry Books By David A. Crenshaw (click on titles for details)       The Vision of the Heart  and A Place of Healing and Hope

Books below are available in paperback at 20% discount. To order click on the book images below or simply call 1-800-462-6420.  Code # 4W9CAPBK.  If you want to read reviews first, click on book title under the book image.

Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy: Wounded Spirits and Healing Paths,

Therapeutic Engagement of Children and Adolescents

Understanding and Treating the Aggression of Children: Fawns in Gorilla Suits

Understanding and Treating Aggressive Children: Fawns in Gorilla Suits

Handbook of Play Therapy with Aggressive Children


Evocative Strategies in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy

Presentations- Including Upcoming
Testimonials from Presentations
Dr. Crenshaw's Publications
DVD on Grief
...Heart Symbol Strategies
...Heartfelt Feelings Coloring Card Kit
...Party Hats on Monsters
...Anger Modulation Drawings
...The Ship Prepares for Voyage
...The Magic Key
...The Fair Trial
...The Tree at the Top of the Hill
...Falling Leaves
...Holiday Writing Exercises
...Three Doors
Articles for Parents and Teachers
Article: Empathic Healer
Article: The Fawns beneath the Gorilla Suits
Article: The Hidden Dimensions
Article: Sounds of Children's Silence
Article: Windows to the Child�s Soul
Article: Selective Mutism
Article: Sealing off the Fountain
Article: by Liana Lowenstein, MSW
Article: Rosie the Golden Retriever
Poetry... Musings of the Soul
...Multicultural Language of Healing a Child
...Poetry Book-The Vision of the Heart
...Poetry Book-A Place of Healing and Hope
Tribute to Survivors of Domestic Violence
"My Wish for Children"
YouTube Videos
About Dr. Crenshaw

Mailing Address

David A. Crenshaw, Ph.D., ABPP 205 Dogwood Court Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

Phone:  (845) 489-8661

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Copyright � 2004-2015 by David A. Crenshaw, Ph.D., ABPP. All rights reserved.

 Heart Symbol Strategies

By David A. Crenshaw, Ph.D., ABPP

Readers who have followed my writing know that I use the heart symbol frequently in my work because it has been a potent symbol in cultures around the world throughout the ages. For many the heart symbolizes love, for others passion, or the emotional center of the person. Among the strategies previously described are the Heartfelt Feelings Strategies (Goodyear-Brown, 2002; Riviere, 2005; Crenshaw, 2008) and the Heartfelt Feelings Coloring Card Strategies (Crenshaw, 2008). The strategies below build on the previous ones by using the heart shape in symbol therapy work.

Materials: I collect hearts of a wide variety of shape and colors and materials at novelty shops. My collection consists of plastic, felt, and various glass and gem stone materials.  I find that children are fascinated by the beauty and variety of the hearts in the collection. I keep the hearts in a leather-bound and velvet lined jewelry box that adds further mystique and value to the collection as perceived by the children.

The Velvet-Lined Box of Hearts

Purpose: To create and expand on a potentially healing therapeutic dialogue about important losses and disappointments in the child�s life.

Materials: A collection of hearts in a leather bound and velvet-lined jewelry box.

Directions: The child is asked to pick from a collection of hearts in a leather bound and velvet-lined jewelry box a heart that symbolizes someone important whom they miss�someone they don�t see at all (a person who died or someone who moved away) or someone they don�t see as often as they wish. They can pick more than one heart to represent each of the persons they are missing.

On inquiry, the child is asked to tell why they picked that particular heart for each of the persons they are missing, and to talk about that important person who is presently missing from their life.

The Circle of Hearts

Purpose: To identify and create dialogue about the family and interpersonal resources the child can draw on in times of crisis or emotional vulnerability.

Materials: Same as above.

Directions: The child is instructed to pick a heart from the velvet-lined box of hearts to represent the self. Then the children are asked to pick a heart for every person that loves them. These hearts are arranged in a circle around the heart they have picked for self.  If children are unable to make a full circle of people who love them, they then should be directed to place also in the surrounding circle a heart representing friends, peers or adults who care about them or support them. If they are still unable to complete the circle the children can be asked to pick a heart to represent people who they would like to be able to turn to for love and support.

Clinical Considerations:

As with all of my strategies that are evocative of emotion, sometimes quite powerful emotions, only the clinician working with the child or family or group of children (in group therapy or art therapy) can decide if such a strategy would be appropriate for a given client(s) at a particular time. Obviously, timing and pacing are critical factors in clinical decision making, as well as a thorough understanding of the child�s level of functioning at any one point in time, including the ability to tolerate anxiety and emotional distress. The level of external stress in the child�s life at the given point of time also needs to be considered. It is impossible to overemphasize the factor that repeatedly has been demonstrated empirically to have the most bearing on psychotherapy outcome, the quality and strength of the therapeutic alliance. It is important to realize that the tools I have introduced to child and family therapy are just what the name implies�they are tools but not the therapy itself. They are techniques that can be used by child and family therapists who adhere to a wide range of theoretical orientations, including but not limited to cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychoanalytic and psychodynamic approaches, Jungian, play therapy, gestalt therapy, narrative therapy, solution-focused therapy, family systems therapy, and art therapy. The ultimate goal is to expand emotionally meaningful and heart-centered dialogue with the child, family, or group that I believe contributes to the healing process.


Brown Goodyear, P. (2002). Digging for buried treasure. Antioch, TN: Paris Goodyear Brown.

 Crenshaw, D. A. (2008). Therapeutic Engagement of Children and Adolescents: Play, Symbol, Drawing, and Storytelling Strategies. Lanham, MD: Jason Aronson/An Imprint of Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.  

Riviere, S. (2005). Play therapy to engage adolescents. In L. Gallo-Lopez and C. E. Schaefer, eds., Play therapy with adolescents, 2nd ed. (pp.121-142). Lanham, MD: Jason Aronson/Rowman & Littlefield.

  Copyright � 2008 by David A. Crenshaw, Ph.D., ABPP.  All rights reserved.