Catherine Tucker is an author, trainer, and therapist. She lives in Terre Haute, Indiana.


I came to Terre Haute in 2007 to teach at ISU. I was an associate professor in counseling at Indiana State University from 2007-2016. I directed the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program for four years, and taught students in that program, the School Counseling program, and created the new counseling minor. I love watching people discover the healing side of play, which is why I taught a play therapy course at ISU and have now started this business training professionals already in the therapy/helping fields.

I’m now the research director for The Theraplay Institute (www.theraplay.org). It’s located in Evanston, IL., but I’m still in Terre Haute. It’s a great job, working with warm, wonderful Theraplay people and learning about how people use Theraplay all over the world to help children and families.

Before I moved to Indiana, I earned my PhD in Counselor Education & Supervision at the University of Florida. I earned both my B.S. and M.Ed. at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. I was a school counselor for nine years at rural high poverty schools in North Carolina (most of those years were at a pk-3 school) before heading to UF for my PhD. I’m a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (Indiana), a licensed school counselor (Indiana), and a Registered Play Therapist Supervisor. I’m active in the American Counseling Association and the Association for Play Therapy, and am president-elect for the ACA division Association for Child & Adolescent Counseling.

My play therapy education began in North Carolina, with two courses taught by Elaine Wittman. Elaine is primarily Jungian in her approach to play therapy, and also does beautiful work with sand tray therapy. I have an ongoing interest in sand work, and have had the honor of learning from Gisela de Domenico and Eliana Gil. I’ve also trained at the NIRE institute, Jean Baker Miller Training Institute, Chesapeake Bay Seminars, and extensively with The Theraplay Institute in the Chicago area. My approach to therapy is heavily informed by attachment theory, neuroscience, and empathetic presence.

Work with clients

In my private practice, I use primarily the joyful, relationship-based play method known as Theraplay. It’s been around since the 1960’s and has a large community of practice in over 60 nations. I’ve been practicing Theraplay in various formats since about 1998. I sometimes also add in arts-based work or talk therapy, especially with adolescents and adults. Although I’ve worked with a wide range of clients, I primarily see families with young children (ages 0-8ish) who have experienced some sort of trauma, such as foster care, medical trauma, accidents, death of a parent or sibling, natural disasters, long separations from parents, and adoption from orphanages.

I’m currently seeing clients at The Maple Center in Terre Haute on Mondays. I specialize in working with young children who have a history of trauma. However, I also work with adolescents and adults. I do not bill insurance. Instead, I charge a lower fee than other PhD-level therapists in the area and expect cash or check payment at the time of the service. I’m happy to sign forms for your insurance company if you want to send in your receipts to them. The phone number for appointments is 812-230-5126.

I also write about children’s mental health. My book with Dr. Sondra Smith-Adcock, Counseling children & adolescents: Connecting theory, development, & diversity, is now out and available at amazon. My next book, on counseling young children and their families, is due from Routledge Publishing in the winter of 2016. Articles describing recent research I conducted in partnership with Kay Schieffer and The Theraplay Institute on the effectiveness of Sunshine Circles in Head Start classrooms are also forthcoming.

When I’m not working or traveling, I find joy in playing with my partner, three stepsons, two cats, and multiple friends in our old rambling farmhouse.