Nature Play Therapy Training Series
Presented by Janet Courtney, PhD, RPT-S, Rosalind Heiko, PhD, RPT-S, Jamie Lynn Langley, LCSW, RPT-S,
Rose LaPiere, LPC, RPT-S, ACS, and Lynn Louise Wonders, LPC, RPT-S, CPCS
Previously Live Online Webinars NOW RECORDED
for Learning Enrichment Purposes ONLY. Not for CE Hours
If you need a certificate of completion (not for CE hours – just for other reasons you may have) please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Join us to learn how to integrate and implement Nature Play Therapy interventions rooted in a variety of theoretical orientations supporting the use of play as an effective agent of change, growth and healing.
The interventions introduced will provide methods to bring nature into play therapy practice with children, adolescents and families both in the playroom as well as bridging prescriptive healing interventions outside of sessions to promote family bonding.
Mental health professionals are increasingly becoming aware of the
therapeutic healing and restorative power of nature.
There is an established and growing body of research evidence showing support for the theory that children who have opportunities to connect with nature gain the following benefits:
- reduction of stress
- increased focus and mental clarity
- enhanced creativity and problem-solving
- improved self-discipline
- exhibit more cooperativeness
- decreased depression and behavior problems.
Despite these research findings, paradoxically, children and families are more out-of-touch with nature than ever before. Land restrictions, fear of litigation, and safety concerns have all made their contribution to this ever increasing disconnect between the children, families and the natural world. Researchers are finding evidence that some of the behavioral disorders today are, in part, a consequence of this disconnect.
According to author and researcher Richard Louv, children are suffering something he refers to as Nature Deficit Disorder which speaks to the detrimental effects that can occur when children have decreased access to the world of nature.
Grounded in the therapeutic powers of play, this Nature Play Therapy training series consists of 11 recordings of previously live webinars. This training series will introduce practitioners to the utilization of nature’s multi-sensory items to intervene in varied childhood diagnoses and problem areas. Participants will learn how known play therapy interventions such as therapeutic storytelling, sand tray play therapy, Gestalt play therapy and many others can utilize sand, natural clay, gems and minerals, stones, feathers, shells, mandalas, nature sounds and other earth-based components within play therapy sessions. We will address ways to bring elements of nature into the totality of the play therapy process with review of theory and practical interventions for all stages of therapy from initial rapport building through connecting and joining interventions to the termination and closing process.
"Nature is a tool . . .
to help children experience not only the wider world, but themselves.” – Stephen Moss
Nature Play Therapy: The Dynamic Duo of Nature and Play Therapy
Presented by Jamie Langley, LCSW, RPT-S
Duration: 2 Hours
Description: Play therapists have the ability to incorporate nature-based creative and expressive arts and play therapy activities to combine the therapeutic healing benefits of nature and play for both children and families. This session will examine the research literature regarding the mental health benefits of nature as a foundation for this retreat experience. Participants will be introduced to interventions that involve elements of nature that can be incorporated by the play therapist for both inside the playroom as well as outside in nature. We will also explore ways to translate interventions for tele-health sessions. Participants are asked to collect some nature items to have with them during the presentation to be able to participate in a Nature Play Therapy activity. (Suggestions include stones, seashells, feathers, acorns, pinecones, leaves, small sticks, etc.)
- Identify 3 reasons nature combining nature and play can be beneficial for children and families according to the research as considerations for play therapists.
- Participate in a Nature Play Therapy activity and articulate how this can be included as part of play therapy sessions (including over tele-health) with children and/or families.
- Explore at least two additional play-based expressive arts or play therapy activities that include and involve elements of nature that can be conducted either inside or outside as part of the play therapy process.
- Identify at least two ways play-based activities involving nature can improve self-regulation and creative problem-solving as part of increasing personal strengths in play therapy.
Cultivating Mindfulness through Nature Play Therapy
Presented by Lynn Louise Wonders, LPC, RPT-S, CPCS
Duration: 2 hours: .5 hours seminal theory; .5 skills & methods; 1 hour interventions
Description: Examining the most recent research on the effects of mindfulness practice and neuroscience this training will weave together the therapeutic powers of play with elements of nature to help clinicians learn how to support children and families cultivate mindfulness practices in the context of play therapy sessions.
- Name 3 reasons based on research for incorporating mindfulness skills into the play therapy process for children and families.
- Describe 3 benefits of connecting children and families with nature within the context of play therapy.
- List 2 core agents of change through the therapeutic powers of play achieved through the playful introduction of mindfulness skills using nature..
- Name 5 Nature Play Therapy interventions that helps children and families cultivate a mindfulness practice.
Utilizing the Metaphorical Healing Elements of Mother Earth in Nature Play Therapy
Presented by with Janet Courtney, PhD., RPT-S
Duration: 2 hours; .5 hour seminal theories; 1.5 hours interventions
Description: In this engaging and experiential workshop participants will learn multiple play-based methods to utilize the metaphorical elements of natural objects—shells, feathers, sand, clay, gemstones and stones (think metamorphic, sedimentary, and igneous)—that can be therapeutically utilized within play therapy sessions in the play room and outdoors with children and families. With attention to multi-cultural sensitivity, we will discuss how nature crosses cultural barriers, enhancing social connections. Several nature-based interventions will be presented that you can immediately put into practice including a powerful storytelling healing intervention called: “I KNOW MY YES’s and NO’s!” that helps to empower children to better clarify their decision making, boundary setting, and choices in life and can be applicable to children experiencing a wide range of diagnoses or problem areas. The activity is completed by expanding the metaphor to wrap a protective “blanket” to contain the stones.
- Identify three ways in which nature-based interventions can be therapeutically utilized within play therapy sessions with children, adolescents and families.
- State one way that each of the following elements of nature (gemstones, feathers, shells, clay, sand) can be therapeutically integrated into play therapy sessions.
- Identify two different therapeutic powers of play that the intervention of “I KNOW MY YES’s and NO’s” meets.
Gathering Earth, Air, Fire and Water: Accessing the Elements for Sand Trays in Nature Play Therapy
Presented by Rosalind Heiko, PhD, RPT-S
Duration: 2 Hours: .5 hours of training in seminal theory, .5 hours on the special topic of sand therapy and one hour of play therapy interventions.
Description: This introductory training will begin to explore the symbolism of the elements of earth, air, fire and water in relation to Jungian theories of the archetypes, their expression in the psyche, and sandplay process in particular in clinical practice. Each of us has an intimate relationship with these elements. The elements belong, of course, both to the external world (referred to as “nature” or being “outside in the world”) as well as to our inner world (i.e., the rich archetypal symbolism of our inner “nature” or Self). We can gain a mindful perspective on how the elements are employed in images and through interaction with the elemental symbols of sand and water in our playrooms. This training will invite us as individuals – not just as therapists – to relate to the essence of water, air, fire and earth. In our playrooms, we find that our clients are nourished and enriched when they engage with elemental forces. The representation of elements aids in finding pathways rich with meaning in client journeys; and serve to underscore the unconscious processes found in sandwork. We will explore possible meanings of the elements when used in play therapy and sandplay through clinical case tray vignettes, and didactic and experiential learning. Learning about and experiencing the four elements together, we can become more aware of the forces that are awakened within our clients when they engage with these forces in sandwork.
- Identify 3 different therapeutic powers of play that are present when clinical interventions in sand therapy are employed.
- State 2 ways that each of these elements of nature (air, earth, water and fire) can be utilized therapeutically within sand therapy sessions.
- List at least 2 theoretical approaches to the utilization of sand in play therapy.
The Art of Listening to Nature Sounds in Play Therapy
Presented by Rose LaPiere, LPC, ACS, RPT-S
Duration: 2 hours: .5 hour seminal theory, 1.5 hour interventions
Description: Children need to have a variety of experiences that they can see, feel, taste, touch, smell and hear. As we take information in through our senses we are connecting with the world around us. Exploring nature sounds will evoke a variety of feelings thereby expanding the child’s mind and body connection. Learning how to pay attention to sounds on purpose or in other words “focusing” helps to strengthen neural networks and allows the client to become aware of what is happening in their mind and body. In addition, bringing in cues of safety through nature sounds can help regulate the client and widen their window of tolerance. When we help children tune in and focus they become more aware of themselves and learn to communicate what they need. According to Violet Oaklander (2001) “Providing varied experiences for children is an essential component of the therapeutic process… All of these experiences serve to strengthen children’s self, promote good contact functioning, culminating in healing emotional expression, and, in general, facilitate new, more satisfying ways of being in the world. Often, after such therapeutic experiences, the unacceptable, worrisome behaviors drop away.” This course has a foundation of child centered play therapy as well as incorporating gestalt play therapy in working with children and families. Methods will be discussed illustrating how to incorporate nature sounds in play therapy. Therapist will be able to utilize these interventions either in person or via telehealth in their practice. Lecture, discussion, situational cases and experiential exercises will be utilized.
- Describe how using nature sounds in play therapy will benefit a child.
- List 5 nature based sounds and create a nature sound map that that outlines nervous system states of arousal.
- Describe and execute at least five nature sound based play therapy techniques.
- Identify 3 therapeutic powers of play when incorporating nature sounds in play therapy.
Utilizing Nature's Gifts for Expressive Arts in Nature Play Therapy
Presented by Jamie Lynn Langley, LCSW, RPT-S
Duration: 2 hours – .5 seminal theory .5 skills and methods 1.0 interventions
Description: Exploring opportunities for increasing client creativity is one of the benefits of Nature Play Therapy. We also want to use the gifts of nature responsibly in the work we do. The children’s book “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein will be explored as a metaphorical example. Participants will then be introduced to ways to utilize nature’s gifts in expressive art activities to enhance client creativity that can be done outside, indoors and/or over tele-health. Such activities can also be done by play therapists as a form of self-care. Participants are encouraged to have some nature items to utilize during this session, such as listed for session one.
Cite at least two considerations for play therapists regarding the responsible use of nature items for expressive art activities in Nature Play Therapy.
Explore two or more nature-based expressive art activities that can be conducted inside, outdoors, and/or in telehealth.
Identify at least three therapeutic powers of play that are experienced utilizing nature-based expressive art activities.
Summarize at least two ways such nature-based expressive art activities can assist with therapist self-care.
Bringing Nature into the Playroom
Presented by Lynn Louise Wonders, LPC, RPT-S, CPCS
Duration: 2 hours; .5 hour seminal theories; 1.5 hours interventions
Description: There are myriad ways to bring elements of nature into the play therapy room and there are many benefits. This webinar will explore numerous creative play therapy interventions borrowing from items we can find out in nature to help children and families grow, heal and change.
- Explain how and why incorporating objects and substances found in Nature in the play room can benefit both child and adults clients.
- List 10 play therapy interventions that include the use of objects and substances found in Nature.
- Name 3 core agents of change from the therapeutic powers of play achieved through Nature Play Therapy.
Inviting the Wild In: A Girl’s Sand Journey in Jungian Nature Play Therapy
Presented by Rosalind Heiko, PhD, RPT-S
Duration: 2 hours; .5 hours of training on the special topic of sand therapy; .5 hours of seminal theory training and one hour of play therapy interventions.
Description: Every successful journey story incorporates travel into the heart of the Great Forest – the archetypal source of both the challenges and resources in our psyche. Becoming attuned to the outer world in nature, as well as the inner perception of the Self, allows us to mindfully bring our inner and outer experience into a sense of experienced harmony. This is the second part of an introductory training that began with Session 4 on June 26. This training will highlight the themes inherent to understanding the process of a sandplay journey from the client’s perspective to deepen our appreciation of this therapeutic approach and its healing potential. We will explore the girl heroine’s journey through the lens of the Sandplay Journey Map; and gain perspective on how one client engaged in a sandplay process to investigate her wild nature. This workshop will provide an opportunities for in-depth case presentation; and an exploration of the gateways of the Journey Map and how the mapping process can enhance clinician understanding of sand therapy.
- Identify 3 different therapeutic powers of play that are present when a clinical intervention in sand therapy casework is employed.
- Name the 4 gateway quadrants of the Sandplay Journey Map for use in sandwork in play therapy interventions.
- Define 3 Jungian terms related to the journey motif (archetype, symbol and shadow) when working with clients in sand and play therapy.
- Name and explain 2 specific goals in therapy with children that are consistent in play therapy and sand therapy.
Touching Clay to Address Trauma in a Gestalt Play Therapy Encounter
Presented by Janet Courtney, PhD, RPT-S
Duration: 2 hours: .5 seminal theory, .5 skills & methods; 1 hour interventions
Description: Children who have been traumatized often do not have the skills to put words to their thoughts and feelings. Trauma lives deep within their bodies, unable to be processed, leaving them anxious, depressed, withdrawn or even aggressive. Working with clay is a powerful medium to intervene with trauma experiences. In this workshop, participants will learn how to utilize the healing power of clay to create a Gestalt Play Therapy encounter to help process trauma within a play therapy session. Several other clay-based directives will be presented. A brief case study, “Penguin Man Speaks” will be presented to ground theory into practice.
- Demonstrate two ways how to implement clay in play therapy practice through hands-on interactive experiences to promote sense of identity and self-worth in clients.
- Characterize two ways how nature play therapy can reframe trauma experiences, increase self-regulation and connect to a mind-body awareness through both a Gestalt Play Therapy encounter.
- Articulate a minimum of three ways to assist clients in developing inner resilience, courage, creativity and tenacity to reduce trauma symptoms within play therapy sessions.
Somatic & Grounding Techniques In Nature Play Therapy
Presented by Rose LaPiere, LPC, RPT-S, ACS
Duration: 2 hour: .5 Seminal Theory, .5 Skills & Methods, 1 hour Interventions
Description: Come have some fun and learn creative ways to integrate somatic and sensory based play therapy interventions. We can teach children in play therapy to become aware of and connect to the sensations in their body so they can understand themselves in the moment. Interventions will include body based, mindfulness and sensory techniques and include nature items. Creative interventions that can be used in session to help regulate states of the nervous system (i.e., hypoarousal and hyperarousal states will be discussed). Cultivating sensory and somatic awareness are important tools to help regulate the body and emotions and build resiliency. Teaching regulation to children and caregivers with simple creative interventions that can be utilized in and out of the session either in person or via telehealth. Participants will learn somatic and sensory strategies through the lens of play therapy, neuroscience, mindfulness and attachment theories. Participants will be asked to bring in nature items so as to have a hands on experience in the live training session. The foundation of this course is in child centered play therapy.
Describe the importance of cultivating interoception in play therapy
Demonstrate 5 ways to cultivate somatic awareness in play therapy
Demonstrate 5 ways to cultivate sensory awareness in play therapy
Identify 3 therapeutic powers of play in somatic and grounding play therapy techniques.
Closure & Termination Techniques in Nature Play Therapy
Presented by Janet Courtney, PhD, RPT-S, Rosalind Heiko, PhD, RPT-S, Jamie Lynn Langley, LCSW, RPT-S, Rose LaPiere, LPC, RPT-S, ACS, and Lynn Louise Wonders, LPC, RPT-S, CPCS
Duration: 2 hours interventions
Description: The process of closure and completion in play therapy services is a fundamental and essential part of the therapeutic experience. This training session will review the termination process with introduction to 5 Nature Play Therapy closure activities.
- Explain the clinical significance of the termination process specific to play therapy
- Name 3 elements of appropriate closure in play therapy.
- List 5 Nature Play Therapy closure intervention activities.
- Develop 3 ways to use play as an agent of change to facilitate communication and enhance social relationships
Janet Courtney, PhD, RPT-S
Dr. Janet Courtney, PhD, RPT-S is Founder of FirstPlay® Therapy and a TEDx Speaker. Since 1997, she has been an Adjunct Professor at Barry University, Miami, Florida where she currently oversees the Play Therapy course curriculum. She is immediate past Chair of the “Association for Play Therapy Ethics and Practice committee” and former President of the Florida Association for Play Therapy.
Dr. Courtney is excited to announce her new 2020 books, “Healing Child and Family Trauma through Expressive and Play Therapies: Art, Nature, Storytelling, Body, and Mindfulness,” AND “Infant Play Therapy: Foundations, Models, Programs, and Practice,” She is also author and co-editor of the groundbreaking book, “Touch in Child Counseling and Play Therapy: An Ethical and Clinical Guide, ” and is published in the International Journal of Play Therapy, the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, and the Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture. Other publications include chapters in the books, “Environmental Expressive Therapies: Nature-Assisted Theory and Practice,” and in “Play-based Interventions for Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders.”
Dr. Courtney believes in the power of nature, therapeutic storytelling, and nurturing touch interactions to support healthy growth and development. She offers two separate FirstPlay® Certification courses including “FirstPlay Developmental Infant Play Therapy” where parents are facilitated to provide attuned and respectful touch to their infants through facilitated storytelling. The other is for, “FirstPlay Kinesthetic Storytelling®” which is an attachment-based storytelling model that merges skills of mindfulness with joyful first-play interactive parent-child interventions. Her children’s book, “The Magic Rainbow Hug©,” makes this model directly accessible to professionals, parents, and the children who can most benefit from its use.
She is an internationally recognized play therapist and has been invited to speak on the topics of infant and childhood play therapy across the U.S. and in Bali, Indonesian, England, Ireland, Morocco, Russia, Ukraine, the Cayman Islands, and most recently to China.
Rosalind Heiko, PhD, RPT-S, ISST
Jamie Lynn Langley, LCSW, RPT-S
Ms. Jamie Lynn Langley, LCSW, RPT-S is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor. She has a private practice in Smyrna, TN, outside of Nashville, where she sees children and adolescents from the ages of 3 – 19 and their families. Ms. Langley enjoys supervising play therapists towards earning the RPT credential and also teaches adjunct for Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) and Lipscomb University. Prior to private practice Ms. Langley worked with a community mental health center for over 27 years, primarily providing child, family and play therapy. As the president and one of the original co-founders of the Tennessee Association for Play Therapy, she has been dedicated to making play therapy training more available and affordable at the regional and state level since 1992.
Drawing upon her more than thirty years of clinical and supervisory experience, Ms.Langley often presents regionally, nationally and internationally (both in-person and over on-line forums) on play therapy. These presentations include expressive arts, sand and nature as integral parts of play therapy. Becoming increasingly concerned over the growing lack of nature experiences for children, Ms. Langley has been incorporating nature play in her play therapy more over the past several years. She is also pursuing more writing opportunities to share these experiences. Her article “Nature Play Therapy: When Nature Comes Into Play” for the Canadian Association for Play Therapy Playground Magazine (Spring/Summer 2019) edition can be found at https://cacpt.com/wp-content/
A strong believer of the emotional difficulties caused to children by “Nature Deficit Disorder” (a term coined by nature advocate Richard Louv), Ms. Langley has also been an advocate for combining childhood and nature experiences for children and their families outside of therapy. She is involved as a charter member with the Children and Nature Network which was started by Louv in 2006. In addition she serves on the Advisory Board representing children and mental health for the Healthy Parks Healthy Person program through the Tennessee State Parks and is also part of the Park Rx program. As a former Cub Scout leader for 15 years along with her husband, and raising both sons to become Eagle Scouts; they have together found that some of their most cherished family time were those spent in the outdoors with camping, hiking and canoeing experiences. They increasingly refer to times needed for their “Nature Fix” to both lower stress and improve connections, which has continued with their sons who are now young adults. When not working, Ms. Langley can often best be found at her favorite nature places including the beaches along the Florida Emerald Coast, the lovely Smoky Mountains of her homestate of Tennessee, or a local state park or nature trail enjoying the many healing benefits of nature. Learn more at www.JamieLynnLangley.com
Rose LaPiere, LPC, RPT-S, ACS
Lynn Louise Wonders, LPC, RPT-S, CPCS
“I am not sure I have ever been to training retreat that has stayed with me as this one has. Such a deep experiential time; it reached me professionally, emotionally and spiritually. I feel blessed to have been there and to have met and spent time with the masterful training therapists and the other attending therapists; my life is richer and better for seeing nature from a fuller deeper perspective. AND it was absolutely beautiful, the scenery and the facilities; we were well cared for.” –Lilianne Davidson Smith, M.A., LPC, RPT
“To anyone considering attending: you will not be sorry. It is truly an amazing and educational experience” Teresa Powers, MS, LPCC, NIC
“This unique training incorporated experiential learning and emphasized self-care for clinicians. The supportive trainers as well as the beautiful mountain setting created an environment that facilitated a sense of connection and “going deeper” personally and professionally. The instruction was high quality and provided many practical tools and ideas for incorporating nature items and themes into my practice.” Alicia Renee, MS, LPC
“This was more than a training! This was a deep learning experience that also created a deep personal experience. We were immersed in nature-based play underscored and supported by theory. We learned practical and hands on interventions taught by loving and caring master play therapists. I came home refreshed, relaxed, and joyful. A training experience I can’t wait to have again” Deb Berman Wolff, LCSW
“I have been to several trainings in the 20+yrs of being an RPT-S and bar none this is one of my favs!!! Everything was top notch, but the biggest for me was how knowledgeable, humble, and real the presenters were. Loved the level of engagement that they had with each one of us! Would gladly go to another.” Kim Hildebrandt Mcfarland, LCSW, RPT-S, CAS, CCTP,