Dr. Risë VanFleet is Founder and President of the Family Enhancement & Play Therapy Center, Inc. in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, an organization specializing in the training and supervision of child, family, and play therapy professionals as well as the provision of mental health services for children and families. She holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and The Pennsylvania State University. A Licensed Psychologist in Pennsylvania, Dr. VanFleet is also a Certified Filial Therapist, Supervisor, and Instructor, a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor, and a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant. She specializes in strengthening family relationships through play, and has subspecialties in Filial Therapy, Animal Assisted Play Therapy™, play therapy, chronic medical illness, disaster mental health, child/family trauma and attachment interventions, among others. She also provides family-oriented non-aversive dog training and behavior consultation.
Dr. VanFleet brings over 40 years of clinical, supervisory, and leadership experience in community mental health, health care, education, and independent practice settings to her workshops. She has trained and supervised thousands of clinicians internationally. She has also been a popular speaker at animal-related conferences.
Risë is the author of Filial Therapy: Strengthening Parent-Child Relationships Through Play (3rd ed.), A Parent’s Handbook of Filial Therapy (2nd ed.), coauthor of Animal-Assisted Play Therapy and Child-Centered Play Therapy, coeditor of the Casebook of Filial Therapy, and author/photographer of The Faces of Play. Her book with Tracie Faa-Thompson, Animal Assisted Play Therapy, was released in 2017 to widespread international acclaim from leaders in the field. Her book, Play Therapy with Kids & Canines, won a major writing award. Her book, The Human Half of Dog Training: Collaborating with Clients to Get Results, was recognized as one of the top four training books in 2013 (Dog Writers Association). Several other writing projects are underway. She has written dozens of chapters and articles, several of which have earned prestigious writing awards. Her materials have been used by professionals and families in over 70 countries, and her work has been translated into several languages. She is featured on three best-selling play therapy video-based online courses: Child-Centered Play Therapy, Overcoming Resistance: Engaging Parents in Play Therapy, and Introduction to Filial Therapy, as well as an American Psychological Association DVD, Filial Play Therapy.
Risë is also involved in the development, practice, ethics, and research of Animal Assisted Play TherapyTM, and regularly works with her dogs in play therapy. She also has conducted equine assisted programs. She is the Director of the Playful Pooch Program, and works as an Animal Behavior and Training Consultant. Her Play Therapy with Kids & Canines book was the winner of the Planet Dog Foundation’s Sit-Speak-Act Canine Service Award given by the Dog Writers Association of America. She has received two DWAA Maxwell Awards for best magazine series and best training article related to dogs in any magazine. Another article won the DWAA’s Friends of Rescue Special Award.