Course Description

In this course, you will gain an overview of the topic of touch in child psychotherapy sessions. The current research and neurobiology of touch related to oxytocin and cortisol, affective touch and mirror neurons is reviewed. The mediating factors related to child initiated and therapist-initiated touch are covered as well as several recommended ethical guidelines.


 At the end of this course practitioners will be able to:

  • Describe what happens to cortisol in the body when caring touch is provided. 

  • Name 8+ Touch Mediating Factors that can happen in play therapy. 

  • List 10+ recommended touch ethical guidelines in play therapy. 

  • State three research studies that supports the importance of touch to healthy development.

  • Identify the practitioner’s own self-awareness of touch, attachment, and potential countertransferences.

This course is led by Janet Courtney, PhD., RPT-S. APT credits available as listed in the course description are sponsored by Developmental Play & Attachment Therapies (APT Approved Provider 10-287) Play therapy credit available to mental health professionals only as listed in each course description.  Courses that do no qualify for play therapy credit are clearly listed.

Technical support for this course is provided by Jennifer Taylor of Jennifer Taylor Play Therapy Services, LLC.

No NBCC Credit available.

Interested in Somatic Storytelling Certification? 

This course is also Module 3 of the FirstPlay Somatic Storytelling Level 1 course. 

If you are interested in becoming certified in First Play Somatic Storytelling (formerly known as First Play Kinesthetic Storytelling), you can start with this FREE course, Intro to FirstPlay Therapy. 

If this material resonates with you, you can go directly to this course, Somatic Storytelling Level 1 to complete the remaining of Level 1.

If you are not sure (yet) about certification or just need to spread your resources out over time,  Dr. Courtney has offered the next three modules of Somatic Storytelling Level 1 as stand-alone courses.  

After the FREE Into to First Play Therapy course,  you would purchase this course, Attachment Theory in FirstPlay Therapy

Next, you would purchase this course (the one you are currently viewing) The Ethics of Touch in Play Therapy

and then you would purchase: 

4). Parent and Child Attachment and Assessment 

Once you complete all 4 of the courses listed above, please email Jen Taylor at [email protected] to purchase Module 5, which will be the final course needed for you to complete Level 1 of the Somatic Storytelling Series.  Once you have completed that course, you can move directly to Level 2 of the Somatic Storytelling series.  

The three-part Somatic Storytelling series is 37.5 hours of training in all three Levels of the Somatic Storytelling series.  After completing the training, contact Dr. Courtney to schedule individual or group consultation sessions to review the material and demonstrate competency in the techniques.

Instructor Janet Courtney, PhD, LCSW, RPT-S

Janet Courtney, PhD, LCSW, RPT-S is the Founder of FirstPlay® Therapy and offers a Certification to Practitioners in FirstPlay® Infant Massage & Kinesthetic Storytelling®. Since 1997, she has been an Adjunct Professor at Barry University, Miami, FL where she also obtained her Doctoral degree in Social Work completing a dissertation in Developmental Play Therapy, touch and attachment. She is a Registered Play Therapy Supervisor and past President of the Florida Association for Play Therapy. Dr. Courtney is author/editor of the books Infant Play Therapy: Foundations, Models, Programs and Practice and Healing Child and Family Trauma through Expressive and Play Therapies: Art, Nature, Storytelling, Body, Mindfulness” book. She is co-author 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 (2017) and in Play-based Interventions for Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders (2012). Janet’s career has focused on attachment and bonding, and the importance of nurturing touch between parents and their young children. As a wholistic oriented practitioner, she believes in the power of infant massage and joyful “first-play” activities (for example, patty cake and peek-a-boo) as the best start for infant mental health.Dr. Courtney is an internationally recognized play therapist and has been invited to speak on topics of infant and childhood play therapy in England, Ireland, Morocco, Russia, Ukraine, and the Cayman Islands. She has acted as a consultant to several Florida based children’s agencies, and supervises clinicians seeking Florida board licensure, as well as, those seeking Certification as a Registered Play Therapist. Dr. Courtney has developed a new process of storytelling called FirstPlay® Kinesthetic Storytelling® which merges imagery relaxation skills with joyful first-play interactive parent-child activities. Her children’s book, The Magic Rainbow Hug©, makes this technique directly accessible to professionals, parents, and the children who can most benefit from its use.

Course curriculum

    1. Welcome to the course!

    2. Interested in Certification in Somatic Storytelling?

    1. Course Powerpoint

    2. Course Video #1

    3. Course Video #2

    4. Course Video #3

    1. APT Paper on Touch - Revised 2022

    2. Read the Book: Touch in Child Counseling and Play Therapy: An Ethical and Clinical Guide

    1. Evaluation (Required)

    2. Quiz (Required)

About this course

  • $95.00
  • 10 lessons
  • 3.5 hours of video content