How the Oaklander Model sparked a Global Community of Therapists in a Pandemic, and enriched Training and Treatment


  • Karen Fried



Post-Pandemic teletherapy, online Violet Oaklander Model, online play therapy, interactive play teletherapy


Social isolation caused by COVID threatened psychotherapist-client and instructor-learner contact especially in the child therapy field. In response, the author devised free online Oaklander Model interactive play therapy tools (Sandtray, Puppets, Dollhouse, Projective Cards, Mindfuldraw) which replace their hands-on originals with tabs of images clients choose, place, move, enlarge or shrink, and make act and speak to orchestrate scenes. The author also conducted teleconference training and supervision in their use. Both the digital interventions and instruction continue to attract therapists from some 30 countries, who collaborate to support children from afar. The technological recasting of play techniques and teaching proved to retain and even expand their powers along with their reach. Such expansion confirmed the universal, timeless efficacy of Oaklander’s interventions and approach, and their applicability to virtual platforms. It also increased client access to therapy and therapist access to clinical education, regardless of location and finances. Finally, it revealed advantages of remote play therapy and training: recording sessions or stages of client creations, including from separate devices; shot sharing of clients’ home, household members, pets and meaningful objects for assessment and exploration; environmental sustainability of foregoing transportation, office rental, physical art materials and storage; and construction of an international therapeutic community sharing their knowledge. Periodic polling, current website analytics and a recent formal survey show these techniques and gains have outlasted and outgrown lockdown despite distance, financial hardship and, sometimes, war. Digital therapy, learning and collaboration endure and expand both online and live as the foundation of this network’s dual achievement: a global community of healers and a global extension of healing.


Karen Fried

Karen Fried, Psy.D., M. F. T. is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and an Educational Therapist in Santa Monica, California. She received a PsyD and Master’s degrees in Clinical Psychology and in Psychology of Human Development, along with certification in Educational Therapy. She has a private psychotherapy practice and co-directs the K&M Center, which provides educational and remedial services to students from preschool to college. In her practice, she uses the Oaklander Model of child therapy, and is president of the Violet Solomon Oaklander Foundation. She trains and supervises child and adolescent therapists in this model in the US and internationally.
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Fried, K. (2023). How the Oaklander Model sparked a Global Community of Therapists in a Pandemic, and enriched Training and Treatment. Psychotherapie-Wissenschaft, 13(1), 59–69.