Sara Bagramian Thatcher is the owner and founder of Oak City Counseling. Sara is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Trauma Specialist, Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor and Registered Yoga Teacher, with over 17 years of experience in the mental health field, specializing in Play Therapy for children aged birth-12, talk therapy/creative expression with tweens/teens and parent support/coaching.
Sara is one of 14 therapists in Raleigh who have obtained the Registered Play Therapist (RPT) credential, which requires 150 hours of play therapy training and 50 hours of play therapy supervision.
Ms. Thatcher is one of 6 therapists in Raleigh who have obtained the Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor (RPT-S) credential. This credential is the highest level of certification offered by the Association for Play Therapy and consists of an additional 3000 hours of clinical experience, an additional 500 hours of direct play therapy experience and 30 hours of supervisor training. This credential allows Sara to supervise other practicing play therapists to achieve their RPT credential.
Sara is one of three therapists in Wake County (and the only therapist in Raleigh) who have received the Certified Trauma Practitioner certification from the National Institute of Trauma and Loss in Children.
Sara has completed Level 1 and Level 2 advanced training in Theraplay®, an Evidence Based intervention which is an attachment based therapy. Theraplay is a fun and engaging technique which involves both parent and child and helps to improve the parent/child bond while also restructuring the parent/child relationship. Theraplay is utilized for behavior issues in children including aggression and defiance and is also effective for children who have experienced trauma or who have been adopted.
Sara regularly incorporates the Adult Attachment Inventory (AAI) into treatment with children/parents as a more in depth method of evaluating and understanding how parenting styles and early experiences from a parent’s own childhood can affect their current relationship with their child. This method often allows for parents to heal from their own early childhood wounds and is extremely effective. Ms. Thatcher believes that relational work between parent/child is more comprehensive, healing and transformative than traditional behavioral interventions such as charts, time-outs, counting, etc. as healing and uncovering underlying relational issues can repair the relationship permanently and are unique to each parent and child.
Ms. Thatcher also consults with community agencies, physicians and schools in regards to play therapy and trauma interventions for children.
Sara has testified as an expert witness in court over 10 times in Wake, Durham and Lee Counties to provide testimony in regards to abuse/neglect, play therapy and child mental health. Ms. Thatcher has completed training to provide forensic evaluations through the Child Medical Evaluation Program at UNC-Chapel Hill which evaluates abuse and neglect in North Carolina.
Ms. Thatcher was interviewed twice as a child/parenting specialist for Carolina Parent Magazine. The first article ‘Raising Respectful Kids’ was featured in the March, 2015 edition and an article about separation anxiety in children and adolescents was featured in the April 2017 edition.
Sara Thatcher was honored to be a featured guest blogger for the SAS Institute Relationship Series, please click here to read the blog.
Additionally, Sara has contributed as a featured expert for a TWC News Series about raising children with digital media use.
Ms. Thatcher is regularly asked to present for conferences and graduate classes on play therapy, Theraplay techniques, child trauma and parenting.
Sara completed 220 hours of Yoga Teacher Training and became a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) in 2017. She then went on to complete a specialized Children’s Yoga Teacher Training and Teaching Mindfulness to Tweens and Teens course. Sara teaches children’s yoga and provides training in child development at Little Guru Kids Yoga in Raleigh.
Licenses, Certifications & Awards
Licensed Clinical Social Worker, State of North Carolina, 2005
Certified Child Family Evaluation Forensic Evaluator, 2009
Theraplay® Level 1 and Marschak Interaction Method (MIM), 2010
Association for Play Therapy Leadership Academy Graduate, 2011
Registered Play Therapist, 2013
Certified Trauma Specialist, 2013
Theraplay® Level 2 and Marschak Interaction Method (MIM), 2016
Registered Yoga Teacher-200 hr, 2017
Children’s Yoga Teacher Training-2017
Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor-2018
Professional Activities and Memberships
Association For Play Therapy Member 2008-present
Consultant and contributor in article ‘Attitude Adjustment, Raising Respectful Kids’, Carolina Parent Magazine, March 2015
Haven House Services, Board Member – 2011-2013
National Association for Play Therapy, Leadership Academy Graduate, 2013
Author of Article ‘How Can Play Therapy Help?’ in On The Record Magazine, 2011
Author of Article ‘Helping Children Cope with Divorce’ in On The Record Magazine, 2012
Member of Wake County School Based Mental Health team: 2004-2007
Member of Yoga Alliance: 2017-present
Member of National Association of Social Workers (NASW): 2014-present
Lectures and Presentations
- General Overview of Play Therapy Methods with Children: Arapgir Center for Children and Families, 10/2009, Yerevan, Armenia.
- Child Centered Play Therapy Theories and Methods: University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, School of Social Work guest lecture 11/2009, Chapel Hill, NC.
- Play Therapy Methods with Children including Directive and Non-Directive Techniques: EasterSeals UCP Mental Health Division, 12/2009, Raleigh, NC.
- Play Therapy Basics and Working with Traumatized Children: Carolina Mental Health Center, 03/2011, Raleigh, NC.
- Theraplay® Techniques: UNC-Charlotte, Contemporary Theories of Play Therapy Graduate Course, College of Education Multicultural Play Therapy Center Counseling Department, 09/2011, Charlotte, NC.
- Theraplay® Techniques and Legal/Ethical Issues in Play Therapy: UNC-Charlotte, Contemporary Theories of Play Therapy Graduate Course, College of Education Multicultural Play Therapy Center Counseling Department, 09/2012, Charlotte, NC.
- Theraplay® Techniques and Legal/Ethical Issues in Play Therapy: UNC-Charlotte, Contemporary Theories of Play Therapy Graduate Course, College of Education Multicultural Play Therapy Center Counseling Department, 09/2013, Charlotte, NC.
- Helping Traumatized Children: EasterSeals UCP, Foster Care Division, 04/2014, Raleigh, NC.
- Theraplay® Techniques: UNC-Charlotte, Contemporary Theories of Play Therapy Graduate Course, College of Education Multicultural Play Therapy Center Counseling Department, 11/2015, Charlotte, NC
- Theraplay® Techniques: UNC-Charlotte, Contemporary Theories of Play Therapy Graduate Course, College of Education Multicultural Play Therapy Center Counseling Department, 11/2017, Charlotte, NC
Sara is not currently taking new clients and will be on maternity leave from November-January, 2019