VSOF Newsletter – Summer Fall 2013

Summer-Fall 2013

In this Issue:

~~Ask Violet~~

~~The Violet Solomon Oaklander Foundation Scholarship Program~~

~~The Oaklander Method in Italy~~


You may send your questions for Violet to:  violet.oaklander@gmail.com

1.  What kind of expectations should we have in our work with the child?

I have a slogan that I often repeat to folks that were in my training programs:


This does not mean that I don’t have goals and plans to achieve those goals, but when I am with a child I need to put these on a back burner and totally be present with the child.

Whatever happens is what is.  For example, if I have decided that it would be valuable for the child to draw a safe place in a particular session, but the child prefers to draw rainbows (this has happened to me), I am not disappointed..  This is what is happening.

We may focus on the rainbow, or the colors used, or it may remind me of a rainbow story, or just smile and say nothing.  I do not mention the safe place, but honor the child’s resistance.  It tells me that she or he may not be ready, have enough inner support, to follow my direction, or is asserting her or his own power.

2.  What are Fritz Perls?   This is actually a question  that was written on a piece of paper and sent up to me in a workshop.  It made me realize that we should take nothing for granted.

Fritz Perls, along with his wife, Laura Perls,  developed Gestalt Therapy.  He was a psychiatrist who escaped Germany from Hitler during World War II and went with his family to South Africa, and later to the United States.

3.  What do you feel are the essentials for an effective work area—the basic materials to start with, .

In my book, Windows To Our Children on page 191 I describe my office during that time in my life.  Later, I built a room onto my house which was probably ideal.  I did not find that the work I did with children was any different or better than in my small office.

The room was large with an outdoor patio and a small connecting waiting room and bathroom.  It had a private entrance.  We definitely had more room for bataca fights and such.  I think it’s important to have drawing paper, pastels, some pottery clay, a sand tray and some miniatures, some puppets, and a few toys as described in my book.  I have never had a separate play room.

It is amazing what can happen with very little material.

I was once asked to give a sand tray demonstration at an agency and was provided, apologetically, with a box of “junk” and a small plastic sand tray.

The junk was donations from clients—mostly odd, broken toys.  I had to forcefully quiet that voice in my head that does have expectations.  I asked for a volunteer (an adult therapist) who looked at the “junk”with  dismay.  I encouraged her to just use what there was the best she could.  A very powerful piece of work came out of her scene.  We were all impressed and surprised.

At one point some of you may remember that there was a fire in my office and most everything was burned.   I rented another office (while my home office was being constructed) and had very little to begin with. .  A parent gave me a large rubber ball.

And I had a few puppets that were not destroyed in my office since I had taken them to a workshop.  Another parent brought me a small, wooden puppet stage.  I had paper and markers.  I still remember some of the sessions we had in that empty space. It was quite amazing.

4.  What is deflection?

Deflection is releasing energy, as anger, from  the original source of that anger to something or someone else.  A child may be fighting and kicking and punching on the playground to release that energy of being angry at the teacher, his parents, etc.  He or she finds it too difficult to express their feeling directly at the person who created it.  It is not uncommon for a parent to yell at the child for making a mess, rather than admit she is angry at her husband for not helping out.  There are many ways to deflect ones feelings.  It is often seen as resistance to dealing with the real source of anger, for example.  I see resistance in children as a message to me that the child is not able to deal with the real source and that I must provide her or him with a feeling of self-support.  Children are generally not aware that they are deflecting, though with adults this awareness may be key to changing their behavior.


Violet Solomon Oaklander Foundation Scholarship Recipients

The mission of the Violet Solomon Oaklander Foundation (VSOF) is to further and preserve the work of Dr. Violet Oaklander, eminent child and adolescent psychotherapist.  We do this in several ways:  selling educational materials by Dr. Oaklander, providing community and networking for therapists using the Oaklander method including our conference every two years (next conference is in Malibu in May of 2014), promoting and providing training in the Oaklander Method worldwide and providing scholarships for therapists to attend such trainings and for providing funds for trainers in the Oaklander Method to travel to disadvantaged areas in the world to give trainings and workshops.   Here is a little information about some of the people who have been awarded scholarships by VSOF in the last two years and who agreed to be listed in this article.  Many thanks to the many people who contributed to our fundraising efforts, including those who buy our educational materials, the profits of which go largely to our scholarship program.

Scholarship recipient for the 2012 Summer Training taught by Felicia Carroll in Solvang California

Valente Orozco  Clovis, CA

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in California.  I have worked in school-based settings, public child welfare, and most recently an outpatient children’s mental health clinic and private practice.  In addition to mental health, I have taught introductory courses in Sociology and Psychology at the junior college level. I currently practice at a non-profit outpatient children’s mental health clinic in Visalia, CA.  Additionally, I have recently started a private practice in Clovis, CA.  My focus is the treatment of children and families, with additional focus on school environments and community empowerment.

I work in an outpatient children’s mental health clinic in Visalia, CA that employs approximately 100 service providers. I believe Gestalt Play Therapy and the Oaklander Model are the practice orientations that are slowly fading away in the face of shrinking social service budgets and the constant push for linear behavioral interventions. My goal in furthering my knowledge in this area is to grasp the model in such a way that I can provide exposure to it to service providers who may otherwise be steered away from this beautifully experiential model.  Through my private practice work, I aim to utilize Dr. Oaklander’s model as my primary modality for work with children and families. Through my work in the central valley, I hope to revitalize the play therapy community in the area as well as increase the practice community’s utilization of the Oaklander model.

Scholarship recipients for the 2013 Summer Training taught by Felicia Carroll in Solvang California

Tiana Blackburn, M.A.

Doctoral Student

Antioch University Santa Barbara

I will use the Oaklander method in my practice, hope to use it in my dissertation, use it to write up a case study.

Susana Millán Cruz  


Atención a Niños, Adolescentes y Adultos

PNL (Programación NeuroLingüistica)

Maestría en Terapia Gestalt


(Also received scholarship for Malibu training)

I will be a Children’s Therapist:  It took me a long time to start, so I want to become a good one as soon as possible. The best way to learn is to learn from the best. I can instruct teachers, therapists and parents so more people will be impacted.

Petro Wagner  

Jeffrey’s Bay,  South Africa

My practice focus is problem families and children. On the farms where I work there are so many psychological and social issues. I focus on psycho-education and community upliftment. I also work at a primary school in a township once a week where I run emotional intelligence Gestalt groups.

I will be disseminating the Oaklander Model on a different continent where it is much needed and where play therapists who believe in it and are well trained seriously need to overcome the marginalization of the profession. The best way is by proving that it works! I believe it is something that can truly change lives in a country like South Africa.

Scholarship recipients for the 2013 Summer Training taught by Karen Fried, Lynn Stadler & Sue Talley in Malibu, California

Jennifer R. Mundy  

Newbury Park, CA

Intern at CALM

I am currently an MFT Intern at CALM (Child Abuse Listening and Mediation) where I work with children around issues of trauma and abuse. I also co-lead an AMAC group and work individually with adults around their issues of childhood abuse. As an intern at CALM I would use the methods I learn in both individual and group therapy. I would also have the opportunity to use this knowledge to train/teach other interns at CALM in clinical meetings and trainings.

Pablo Muñoz Specht  

Quebec,  Canada

One of my objectives at the end of my doctorate is to return to Colombia to work with child soldiers and children who have experienced the armed conflict, adapting the Violet Oaklander method. Sadly, Colombia has one of the highest rates of child soldiers in the world besides the fact that the mental health service for children and adolescents is not well developed.

My dream is to create a formation and intervention center to train therapists who are interested to work with children and adolescents who suffered traumatic experiences in war, using the Oaklander method. I am convinced that this variety of techniques developed by Violet Oaklander will be very useful to heal the deep wound of traumatic war experiences which Colombian children and adolescents have suffered.

Susana Millán Cruz  


Atención a Niños, Adolescentes y Adultos

PNL (Programación NeuroLingüistica)

Maestría en Terapia Gestalt


(Also received scholarship for Solvang training)

I will be a Children’s Therapist:  It took me a long time to start, so I want to become a good one as soon as possible. The best way to learn is to learn from the best. I can instruct teachers, therapists and parents so more people will be impacted.  


The Oaklander Method In Italy

This past June 2013 was the completion part of a four part training program in the Violet Oaklander Model of Gestalt Therapy with Children conducted this past year in Bologna, Italy for Italian child psychotherapists conducted by Italian Psychologists from the Gestalt Institute of Triests, Giandomenico Bagatin, Paolo Baiocchi and VSOF Founding members Lynn Stadler, Karen Fried. As shown in this picture, participants also enjoyed See’s suckers imported from California.

 Here is information on the second year of Gestalt Play Therapy Training, collaborating with Violet Solomon Oaklander Foundation and 21st Century Perspectives, California.

It’s a unique european chance to form intensively in this extraordinary model for children psichotherapy, with trainers formed by Dr. Oaklander.  All of the following information is also listed on our calendar of events:

The first introductory part of the training will be 30, 31 October and 1, 2, 3 November, 2013 in Venice, Italy.

It’s open to both Psychologists, psychiatrists, educators, counselors, social workers, teachers and all other professionals involved in helping children development, health, and happiness.

There are two advanced trainings, one for therapists, one for other professionals.   Both trainings will take place in wonderful Venice, Italy.

The advanced part of the training for therapists will be in 2014: 8, 9 February; 12, 13 April; 13, 14 June.

The advanced training for other professionals, also in 2014, will be 9, 10, 11 April 2014.

For every participant of the training, it will be possible to participate at the national congress “Honouring the Child”,  first Gestalt Play Therapy therapists congress, with Giandomenico Bagatin, Paolo Baiocchi, Alessandra Petrone and the honoring presence and presentation of VSOF Founding Member, Lynn Stadler.

“I am delighted about the new child therapy training programs in Italy! It’s fantastic that a year-long program is now available there, so that professionals can learn about my work and help their child clients with the Oaklander Model. I know that this training will be an outstanding experience for those who have the good fortune to attend”  Dr.Violet Oaklander

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