122 – Becoming a More Magical Therapist

Harnessing Your Social Engagement System
Dafna Lender & Jon Baylin

We all know therapists who seem magically able to establish a powerful sense of trust and connection with even the most distrusting clients. In this workshop, we’ll take a close look at the power of the polyvagal system and the way certain vocalizations, facial expressions, and gestures elicit more open and collaborative communication. You’ll explore how to:

  • Connect with defensive clients, eliciting novel responses that grab their attention, interrupt automatic defensiveness, and generate curiosity
  • Practice exercises for helping guarded or angry clients feel more open
  • Develop skills to create small but transformative moments in therapy
  • Use games to help anxious clients more relaxed and depressed clients more energized
  • Master specific behaviors that elicit trust, like a sing-songy, rhythmic voice; open, curious eyes; reassuring touch; and sounds of empathy


Dafna Lender, LCSW, is the program director for The Theraplay Institute. She trains and supervises clinicians around the world in attachment-based therapy, Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy, and Theraplay.

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Dafna Lender has an employment relationship with The Theraplay Institute. She receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.
Non-financial: Dafna Lender has no relevant non-financial relationship to disclose.

Jon Baylin, PhD, is a clinical psychologist with a focus in neuroscience, and a speaker on childhood trauma and attachment. With Daniel Hughes, he’s written Brain-Based Parenting and The Neurobiology of Attachment-focused Therapy.

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Jon Baylin receives royalties as an author for Norton Press.
Non-financial: Jon Baylin has no relevant non-financial relationship.

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