Counseling Services and Therapists

Our Counseling and Play Therapy Services

"We know that relationships have the power to change our brains and therefore transform our lives. That’s why we say it all starts with connection. Connected relationships = connected brains. Our focus here isn’t just on changing a person’s behavior, but instead on promoting strong and significant relationships between parents and their children, between partners, among educators and students, and even among professionals—all for health, happiness, and thriving."
- Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, PhD, Founder/Executive Director of The Center for Connection

Our Primary Approaches

CHILD AND ADOLESCENT PSYCHOTHERAPY

PSYCHOTHERAPY FOR YOUNG ADULTS

FAMILY COUNSELING

PLAY THERAPY

EARLY CHILDHOOD MENTAL HEALTH (0-5)

PARENTING CONSULTATION AND SUPPORT

THERAPEUTIC COMPANIONS

SOCIAL SKILLS PLAY GROUPS

Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, PhD
Founder/Executive Director, The Center for Connection
Meet Our Executive Director

Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, PhD is the co-author (with Daniel Siegel, MD) of two New York Times bestsellers: THE WHOLE-BRAIN CHILD (Random House Delacorte 2011) and NO-DRAMA DISCIPLINE (Random House Bantam 2014), as well as the recently released book THE YES BRAIN (Random House Bantam January 2018). She is a pediatric and adolescent psychotherapist who makes frequent media appearances and keynotes conferences and conducts workshops for parents, educators, and clinicians all over the world. She is the Child Development Specialist at Saint Mark’s School in Altadena, CA, and the Director of Child Development for Camp Chippewa in Cass Lake, Minnesota. Tina earned her PhD from the University of Southern California, where her research explored attachment science, childrearing theory, and the emerging field of interpersonal neurobiology.

Tina emphasizes that before she’s a psychotherapist, or author, or anything else, she’s a mom. She limits her clinical practice and speaking engagements so that she can spend time with her family. Alongside her husband of 21 years, parenting her three boys is what makes her happiest: “They’re my heart. Their personalities make life so much fun. They’ve also made my research very personal, helping bring together the different roles I play in my life, where I’m part-time educator/researcher, and full-time Little-League-mom/super-Jedi-spy-with-laser-powers. As I’ve studied attachment and childrearing theory and the science of how brains work, I’ve been able to apply that knowledge and let it help me parent more the way I want: lovingly, intentionally, and effectively.”

Tina’s professional life now focuses on taking research and theory from various fields of science, and offering it in a way that’s clear, realistic, humorous, and immediately helpful. As she puts it, “For parents, clinicians, and teachers, learning about how kids’ (and their own) brains work is surprisingly practical, informing how they approach discipline, how they help kids deal with everyday struggles, and ultimately how they connect with the children they care about.”

Welcome Message from Dr. Tina Bryson

At The Center for Connection Play Strong Institute, we are dedicated to providing counseling and psychotherapy to children, teens, young adults, and families guided by the science of the brain and relationships, building new connections and increasing our understanding through creativity, innovation, and healthy integration. We work from a connection-based perspective, always integrating the latest research and sharing our expertise to help kids and families become happier, healthier, stronger, more creative and resilient.

Because behavior has a purpose and children often communicate bigger emotions through their actions, the distinct advantage of play therapy for children and expressive therapies for teens and young adults is that young people feel more confident expressing their ideas and feelings through creativity and hands-on innovation. We approach behavior with curiosity, as a reflection of what skills still need to be developed. Research shows that our brains develop and get connected from the bottom up, so we begin with body movement and sensory processing and help children build up their skills in a natural progression, taking them all the way to higher complex thinking, emotional awareness, and mature communication. With bottom-up therapies, children don't feel pressured to talk or explain, yet we can develop their ability to think carefully, reflect on their actions, share their thoughts, and help them become calmer and less reactive. In play therapy, children can share their individual stories and strengths, form new connections and build confidence around previous challenges that have been difficult, uncomfortable, worrisome, confusing, or chaotic. A creatively attuned play therapist responds skillfully and effectively to clarify their needs, help them express their emotions, find new solutions, practice new skills, and wire up healthy brain connections in a way that feels most natural, comfortable, and yes, even fun and enjoyable to kids!

We want to meet children exactly where they are, understanding them and getting clear on who they are and how their reactivity tells us in what areas they need connections, both relationally and neurologically, as well as in what circumstances they need better strategies to feel competent and confident. When we care about kids, our purpose is to change more than behavior. We work at the level of creating new connections in the brain and nervous system in order to make lasting optimal change as development unfolds.

Georgie Wisen-Vincent, LMFT RPT-S
Managing Director The Play Strong Institute
Meet Our Managing Director

Georgie Wisen-Vincent, LMFT RPT-S is the Managing Director and Head of Faculty for The Play Strong Institute, a continuing education and training organization for professionals and parents. She is a Teaching Professor in the Play Therapy Program at Loma Linda University and a Clinical Supervisor of Play Therapy Practicum at the Loma Linda Behavioral Health Institute.

Georgie has the distinction of earning a postgraduate Master’s Degree in Child Centered Play Therapy at the University of Roehampton, London, United Kingdom. She maintains a private practice working with children and families at The Center for Connection in Pasadena, CA, headed by Tina Payne Bryson, PhD, co-author with Daniel Siegel, MD, of The Whole Brain Child, No Drama Discipline, and The Yes Brain.

Georgie is a frequent speaker to parents and professional audiences on the topics of Play Therapy, Collaborative Parent-Child Play, and the Neuroscience of Play. She is also a Member of the British Association of Play Therapists and the American Association for Play Therapy.

Meet Our Therapists

Families who visit will receive respectful and holistic treatment that is consistent, well informed, relationally based, and always aimed at helping them grow and thrive. Get to know our therapy staff by clicking on a therapist's name to learn more and find direct contact information. You might prefer to get in touch using our email form to schedule a free initial consultation.

Schedule a Consultation

What is Play Therapy?

Help your kids be happier, more resilient, and better problem-solvers who welcome challenge with calm resolve and collaborate well with others!

Play Therapy is a scientific/therapeutic approach that’s been around for over 100 years. You can spend time on our website learning about the extensive science behind our methodology, but a simple way to say what we do here at The Center for Connection Play Strong Institute is that we work with your kids in the language they best understand: play.

Like adults, sometimes kids need help when they’re having a hard time. But whereas adults can talk about whatever is bothering them, children are better at expressing emotions through play and storytelling. So the distinct advantage of play therapy is that kids get to express their ideas and feelings through creativity and hands-on innovation. Incorporating the latest research on the developing mind, brain, and relationships, and working from an interpersonal neurobiology framework, we work to better understand the needs of children who experience stress, anxiety, trauma, and other challenges and help them develop stronger emotional resilience.

Here’s a short video that explains the basic concept to children. You might want to show it to your own child before visiting us:

Despite how simple the videos make it sound, Play Therapy is firmly grounded in extensive science and research, which guide everything we do at the PSI. Neuroscientists have demonstrated that our brains develop and get connected from the bottom up, so we begin with body movement and sensory processing and allow children to take the lead as they make a natural progression to higher complex thinking, emotional awareness, and effective communication. In play therapy, children can share their stories, form new connections and build confidence around previous challenges that have been difficult, uncomfortable, worrisome, confusing, or chaotic. A creatively attuned play therapist responds skillfully and effectively to clarify kids’ needs, help them express their emotions, find new solutions, practice new skills, and rewire healthy brain connections in a way that feels most natural, comfortable, empowering, and yes, even fun and enjoyable to children!

Our team of therapists, supervisors, and instructors has spent many years studying and practicing evidence-based, research-supported approaches in play therapy guided by the science of interpersonal neurobiology. We are very proud to share our knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm for teaching and working holistically with children and families. Join us in the movement to create stronger, healthier, more resilient kids through play!

**We are grateful to Professor Dee C. Ray, from the University of North Texas Center for Play Therapy, for creating these videos.