From Kitty Cat to Tiger: Crossing the Hurdles into the Symbolic World

Program Description

While many children reach early symbolic play using familiar toys and actions representing real life experiences in playful ways, even identifying with figures they know and choosing destinations they have been to, others find it challenging to imagine themselves as someone else holding onto their identities even when they assign roles to others, not quite feeling safe or understanding the meaning of the symbols.  Still others seize upon certain figures they identify with and want to replay their dramas again and again. Think of “Peter Pan”. Some can use their imagination to discover new worlds and feel safe and go on to reality testing. These variations are related to individual differences, caregiver sensitivities, and uneven developmental processes that derail progress and sometimes result in emotional constrictions and behavioral challenges.

This brief Master class will use case vignettes to illustrate how to escort young children up the symbolic ladder,  the hierarchy of emotional symbols, and the journey towards understanding reality, symbolizing negative valence emotions and drives (e.g., fears, anger, jealousy, aggression) navigating their anxiety, and preparing for higher symbolic levels. Participants will be asked to show examples of symbolic function within their disciplines.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify sensory and motor challenges that create hurdles climbing the symbolic ladder
  • Identify the hierarchy of emotional symbolic development
  • Define  the development of reality testing
  • Describe how symbolic function supports regulation and reflection


[UserProfile user=”serenawieder”]

Who should attend?

Graduates and participants of all DIR courses
Crossover candidates and other advanced Certificate holders
Professionals working actively with DIR interventions


Online – Zoom


Time: 4:30-6:00 pm pacific time  /  7:30-9:00 pm eastern time
Length: 1.5 hours each session
4 Sessions

Start Date: Thursday, April 26, 2018
Session 1: Thursday, 4/26/18
Session 2: Thursday, 5/10/18
Session 3: Thursday, 5/31/18
Session 4: Thursday,  6/14/18


Seats Limited

This class is now full

For more information contact