about Christian

Hey There!

How it all started…

As I reflect on my career, the first experience that reinforced my belief in and commitment to supporting children who have experienced early adversity through play was September 11.

The area I live and work in New Jersey is a prominent New York City commuter area. Consequently, my community suffered a staggering number of losses. I remember feeling helpless as the smoldering remains of Ground Zero played on an endless loop on the news while vigils and memorial services were held almost daily. I wanted to do something.

At the time, I was a young and inexperienced play therapist in training when the director of a local art therapy program became aware I was working with children too young for their services. Subsequently, for the next two years, I provided play therapy to a number of children who lost parents and family members that day.

My September 11 work was the first time I witnessed children use the power of play to express their feelings about the sudden disappearance of the person who made them breakfast, dressed them, took them to preschool, played with them on the living room floor, bathed them, read them a story, and tucked them into bed at night.

Today, I’m grateful I’m able to do something. Every day. For a living.

More About Christian…

Christian is a graduate of Seton Hall University and Rutgers University, with degrees in Psychology and Clinical Social Work. He is a New Jersey Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Certified School Social Worker, and a Registered Play Therapist with the Association for Play Therapy.

In private practice since 2000, Christian worked with a number of children who lost parents and family members on September 11, 2001. His work is cited in the book: Middletown, America: One Town’s Passage from Trauma to Hope, by Gail Sheehy, 2002.

Between 2003 and 2010, Christian was also employed as a play therapist by 180, Turning Lives Around, an agency devoted to serving parents and children exposed to domestic violence.

As a contracted provider with New Jersey’s Division of Child Protection and Permanency, Christian treats the youngest survivors of physical and sexual abuse, emotional neglect, and trauma.

Christian also served as a Preschool Intervention Specialist for a school district in New Jersey for more than 19 years. His work with teachers and children in the preschool classroom influenced the development of Universal Play Therapy: A Guide for Supporting Children’s Development, published in 2016.

Currently, Christian maintains a full-time private practice and is committed to sharing what he has learned in his career with Early Childhood Educators and parents through Play to Grow and workshop presenting.

Christian Bellissimo: Play Therapist