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Polyvagal Theory for Children: Practical Application to Build Safety, Create Attachment & Develop Connection – Dafna Lender, LCSW

£ 150.00

Live webinar on Zoom

October 22th and 23th, 2021

From 2pm-6pm London time


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Do you know therapists who seem to have “the magic touch” when it comes to getting children to trust and connect with them? What if there are actual behaviours that you can learn and incorporate into your way of being with children that can solicit openness, relaxation and trust? Join Dafna Lender, LCSW, for this compelling live webinar, as she walks you through the complexities of using polyvagal theory with your young clients. Using your own social engagement system and tuning into the child’s physiological state you’ll learn:

  • Regulating and calming techniques for more curiosity, openness & connection.
  • How sending safety messages to brains of mistrusting kids will make them more open to new relational experiences.
  • To use voice, rhythm, facial expressions and touch to elicit trust.
  • To surprise the brain of a defensive child with novel responses to grab attention, interrupt their automatic defensiveness, and generate curiosity.
  • Exercises and activities to make shut down, guarded or angry clients feel more relaxed, open and ready to connect.



Polyvagal Theory – Application for Children:

  • Foundational Principles and features
  • Applying Polyvagal Theory in Clinical Practice

Harnessing your Social Engagement System:

  • How to Reset when Compromised by Stress and Trauma
  • Elicit Trust – Voice, Rhythm, Racial Expressions, Touch
  • Exercises that hone in on various vocal qualities
  • Create and maintain an open facial expression with defensive children
  • Strategies to incorporate safe touch
  • Playfulness and Paradox to Suspend Defensiveness

Surprise the brain of a defensive child with novel responses to:

  • Grab attention
  • Down-regulate sympathetic activation
  • Interrupt automatic defensiveness
  • Generate curiosity

Movement and Breathing Exercises to Create Connection:

  • Ventral vagal activities for open and engaged state
  • Promote attachment behavior
  • Dorsal vagal activities to pendulate between arousal and relaxation
  • Rhythmic activities for maintaining regulation
  • Counteracting shut down, guarded or angry behavior (responses)



  1. Evaluate the foundational principles and features of the Polyvagal Theory in order to elicit trust in the young clients you work with.
  2. Apply the features of the Polyvagal Theory to inform clinical treatment interventions for children.
  3. Determine the Social Engagement System and how the brain-face-heart connection evolved.
  4. Analyze when a child’s Social Engagement System is compromised by stress and trauma and help to reset it.
  5. Construct how a therapy session can be planned and carried out to maximize client safety, social engagement and regulation.
  6. Implement specific techniques for optimizing polyvagal regulation with children.
Dafna Lender Headshot


Dafna Lender, LCSW, is an international trainer and supervisor for practitioners who work with children and families. She is a certified trainer and supervisor/consultant in both Theraplay and Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP). Dafna’s expertise is drawn from 25 years of working with families with attachment in many settings: at-risk after school programs, therapeutic foster care, in-home crisis stabilization, residential care and private practice. Dafna’s style, whether as a therapist or teacher, is combining the light-hearted with the profound by bringing a playful, intense and passionate presence to every encounter. Dafna is the co-author of Theraplay the Practitioner’s Guide (2020). She teaches and supervises clinicians in 15 countries in 4 languages: English, Hebrew, French and Spanish.


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