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.

Three Doors


David A. Crenshaw



Theme: Therapeutic Exploration of key issues of loss, disappointment, and hopes and dreams for the future

Recommended Age Range: Nine to Seventeen

Treatment Modality: Individual, Group, and Family Therapy


1)     To offer older children and teens structure that facilitates communication about important losses and disappointments

2)     To facilitate therapeutic communication about what is valuable and worth holding onto from their past

3)     To further therapeutic exchange regarding  hopes and dreams for the future

4)     To highlight strengths and resilience


Paper, Pencil, Markers, Colored Pencils, Crayons


The child is asked to imagine what is on the other side of the three doors. The first door is the door to their past that opens to whatever disappointments, losses, or setbacks that they�ve experienced. These are experiences they may wish to put behind them. The second door opens to the things they want to hold on to from their past. These could be happy memories, relationships, skills, or lessons learned that they value and wish to keep. The third door opens to their hopes and dreams for their future. The child can either describe to the therapist what is behind each door, or write, or draw or to use miniatures to symbolize what is to be found on the other side of each door. The therapeutic value of this activity will rest largely on the ability of the therapist to take what the child or teen expresses and expand on it to create meaningful and heartfelt exchange around issues central to the child�s emotional life.


This therapeutic activity like many others previously described (Crenshaw, 2006; Crenshaw, 2008a; Crenshaw & Mordock, 2005) give children and teens the tools to discuss matters in therapy that are emotionally significant that they may wish to talk about but can�t easily initiate the therapeutic conversation. The therapist can, however, structure the therapeutic session by using such activities to enable them to more easily share their inner feelings and in this instance some of their regrets, disappointments, as well as valuable lessons learned from their past, ways that their past hurtful experiences may have strengthened them and their hopes and dreams for the future.

This activity is intended to honor the strengths-based approach and the view that children can gain strength and hardiness from weathering some of the disappointments and setbacks in their past and challenges them to seek out what they would want to hold onto and carry forward from their past. This focus draws on the Solution-Focused approach to therapy as pioneered by Insoo Kim Berg and her colleagues. This activity is informed by the strengths-based, competency approach to therapy (Brooks & Goldstein, 2001; Brooks & Goldstein, 2004; Brooks & Goldstein, 2007; Waters & Lawrence, 1993). Garbarino (2008) observed, �All of us have some capacity to deal with adversity, but some of us have more than others and thus more resilient, whereas others are more vulnerable in difficult times� (p.7). In pursuing the door to the past it is important for clinicians to balance the recognition of and honoring of strengths without in any way minimizing the genuine suffering caused by harsh experiences in life or painful losses (Crenshaw, in press). 

Likewise, clinical sensitivity is required in pursuing the open door that leads to the child�s hopes and dreams (Crenshaw, 2008a; Crenshaw, 2008b). Some children because of the adversities they�ve faced in life keep their expectations low, a way of coping known as the �survival orientation� (Hardy & Laszloffy, 2005). They can�t afford �the luxury of hope� (Crenshaw, 2008a; 2008b). While hopes and dreams are vital forces in the lives of children, it can in some cases fortify them for facing tough challenges but is some cases may be regarded as dangerous to their psychological well-being if their hopes and dreams have been crushed too many times. Thus the third door offers insight into a given�s child reliance on hope and dreams to sustain them in their quest for a better life or whether they are afraid to entertain hopes and dreams because they can bear further disappointments.

One of the advantages of this strategy is the wide range of choices offered to children and teens from direct verbal expression to drawing, therapeutic writing or even the use of symbols to communicate their inner life.


Brooks, R. & Goldstein, S.  (2001). Raising resilient children.  New York: McGraw- Hill.

Brooks, R. & Goldstein, S.  (2004). The power of resilience: Achieving balance, confidence, and personal strength in your life.  New York: McGraw-Hill.

Brooks, R. & Goldstein, S.  (2007). Raising a self-disciplined child.  New York:  McGraw-Hill.

Crenshaw, D. A. (2008a).  Therapeutic engagement of children and adolescents. Lanham, MD: Jason Aronson, an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Crenshaw, D.A. (Ed.). (2008b). Child and adolescent psychotherapy: Wounded spirits and healing paths. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Crenshaw, D. A. (ed.) (in press). Reverence in healing: Honoring strengths without trivializing suffering. Lanham, MD: Jason Aronson/Rowman & Littlefield.

Garbarino, J. (2008). Children and the dark side of human experience: Confronting global realities and rethinking child development. New York: Springer.

Hardy, K. V., & Laszloffy, T. (2005). Teens who hurt: Clinical interventions to break the       cycle of adolescent violence. New York: Guilford Press.

Waters, D. & Lawrence, E. (1993). Competence, courage & change: An approach to  family therapy. New York: Norton.

 � Copyright 2009 by David A. Crenshaw, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.