Course Description

Learn what to expect from this course by watching this welcome video:

Course description:

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 numerous benefits. Despite these research findings, paradoxically, children and families are more out-of-touch with nature than ever before. Grounded in the therapeutic powers of play, this Nature Play Therapy Training Program provides 22 hours of training consisting of 11 modules led by 5 Registered Play Therapist-Supervisors and Trainers (Dr. Janet Courtney, Dr. Roz Heiko, Jamie Lynn Langley, LCSW, Rose LaPiere, LPC and Lynn Louise Wonders, LPC). This training program 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.

Learning objectives:

1. Identify 3 reasons nature combining nature and play can be beneficial for children and families according to the research as considerations for play therapists.

2. 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.

3. Name 3 reasons based on research for incorporating mindfulness skills into the play therapy process for children and families.

4. Name 5 Nature Play Therapy interventions that helps children and families cultivate a mindfulness practice.

5. State one way that each of the following elements of nature (gemstones, feathers, shells, clay, sand) can be therapeutically integrated into play therapy sessions.

6. Identify two different therapeutic powers of play that the intervention of “I KNOW MY YES’s and NO’s” meets.

7. State 2 ways that each of these elements of nature (air, earth, water and fire) can be utilized therapeutically within sand therapy sessions.

8. List at least 2 theoretical approaches to the utilization of sand in play therapy.

9. List 5 nature based sounds and create a nature sound map that that outlines nervous system states of arousal.

10. Identify 3 therapeutic powers of play when incorporating nature sounds in play therapy.

11. Cite at least two considerations for play therapists regarding the responsible use of nature items for expressive art activities in Nature Play Therapy.

12. Identify at least three therapeutic powers of play that are experienced utilizing nature-based expressive art activities.

13. Explain how and why incorporating objects and substances found in Nature in the play room can benefit both child and adults clients.

14. List 10 play therapy interventions that include the use of objects and substances found in Nature.

15. Name the 4 gateway quadrants of the Sandplay Journey Map for use in sandwork in play therapy interventions.

16. Define 3 Jungian terms related to the journey motif (archetype, symbol and shadow) when working with clients in sand and play therapy.

17. 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.

18. 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.

19. Demonstrate 5 ways to cultivate somatic awareness in play therapy

20. Demonstrate 5 ways to cultivate sensory awareness in play therapy

21. Explain the clinical significance of the termination process specific to play therapy

22. List 5 Nature Play Therapy closure intervention activities.

5 Nature Instructors

Janet Courtney, PhD, RPT-S: Founder of FirstPlay® Therapy, TEDx Speaker, Adjunct Professor at Barry University, Miami overseeing the Play Therapy course curriculum. Immediate past Chair of the “Association for Play Therapy Ethics and Practice committee” and former President of the Florida APT. Author of 3 books and numerous journal articles. Dr. Courtney emphasizes the power of nature, therapeutic storytelling, and nurturing touch interactions to support healthy growth and development. Internationally recognized as a play therapist, trainer and speaker throughout the world.Rosalind Heiko, Ph.D. (aka “Dr. Roz”) is a psychologist, certified school psychologist and a Sandplay teacher with the International Society of Sandplay Therapists and the Sandplay Therapists of America. She trains therapists nationally and internationally. Dr. Roz is an Executive Board Member of the World Association of Sand Therapy Professionals, and has been an Executive Board member of STA. She has worked clinically with children and families for over 35 years. She is a published author of her own book and chapters in books edited by Eliana Gil and Eric Green, as well as being an author of several articles in the Journal of Sandplay Therapy. Jamie Lynn Langley, LCSW, RPT-S is in private practice in Smyrna, TN seeing children, adolescents and their families after 27 years in community mental health. She provides supervision and also teaches adjunct for Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) and Lipscomb University. As president of the Tennessee APT she has worked to make play therapy training more available and affordable since 1992. She trains locally, nationally and internationally. Becoming increasingly concerned over the growing lack of nature experiences for children, she has been incorporating nature play in her play therapy more over the past several years.  She has several published articles on the topic of NaturePlay Therapy. Rose LaPiere, LPC, RPT-S, ACS is in private practice in Sea Girt, NJ and has been working with children, adolescents and families for 20 years.  She is a certified School Psychologist and a foundational Theraplay practitioner.  She is extensively trained in SandTray and SandPlay therapies and certified in EMDR and a Synergetic Play Therapist Supervisor. Her work with families and children is grounded in Therapeutic Powers of Play, Neuroscience, Attachment Theory, Mindfulness, Contextual Family Therapy. She is passionate about helping families integrate nature in their daily lives. She provides supervision, consultation and training for therapists, parents, teachers, and school counselors.  She is the president for the NJ Association of Creative Counselors, a branch of the NJ Counseling Association. Lynn Louise Wonders, LPC, RPT-S, CPCS is in private practice in northwest Georgia where she has worked with children and families since 2007 and has provided supervision, training and consultation services for therapists throughout the United States and internationally since 2010. She is the developer of a program for preschools implemented since 2003 to facilitate mindfulness and emotional intelligence, now offering certification training for licensed mental health professionals. She is a published author of a book, chapters and articles to support the work of child therapists and parents. She has served as an Early Childhood Specialist for preschools since 2009.  A regular guest instructor for preschools, community organizations, universities, hospitals, mental health agencies, corporations, law and accounting firms since 1995 she has provided opportunity to bring forward mindfulness practices of yoga, Tai Chi and meditation. 

Course curriculum

  • 1

    START HERE: Helpful Tips for This Course

  • 2

    Required Supplemental Reading and Viewing

    • Article: Indoor Nature-Based Play Therapy: Taking the Natural World Inside the Playroom

    • Video: Forest Kindergarten in Denmark

    • Video: Nature Deficit Disorder

  • 3

    Module 1: Nature Play Therapy: The Dynamic Duo of Nature and Play Therapy Taught by Jamie Lynn Langley, LCSW, RPT-S

    • About Jamie Lynn Langley

    • Module 1: PowerPoint

    • Module 1 Video: The Dynamic Duo of Nature and Play Therapy

    • Module 1: Handout - Sample Nature Consent Form For Therapy Outside

    • Module 1: References

  • 4

    Module 2: Cultivating Mindfulness through Nature Play Therapy Taught By Lynn Louise Wonders, LPC, RPT-S

    • About Lynn Louise Wonders

    • Module 2: PowerPoint

    • Module 2 Handout: Mindfulness

    • Module 2 Video: Mindfulness

    • Module 2: References

  • 5

    Module 3: Utilizing the Metaphorical Healing Elements of Mother Earth in Nature Play Therapy Taught by Janet Courtney, PhD, LCSW, RPT-S

    • About Dr. Janet Courtney

    • Module 3 PowerPoint: Metaphorical Healing

    • Module 3 Video: Metaphorical Healing

    • Module 3 References: Metaphorical Healing

  • 6

    Module 4: Gathering Earth, Air, Fire and Water: Accessing the Elements for Sand Trays in Nature Play Therapy Taught by Rosalind Heiko, PhD, RPT-S, ISST/CST-T

    • About Dr. Roz Heiko

    • Module 4 PowerPoint: Accessing Elements

    • Module 4 Video: Accessing the Elements

    • Module 4 References: Accessing Elements

  • 7

    Module 5: The Art of Listening to Nature Sounds in Play Therapy Taught by Rose LaPierre, LPC, RPT-S, ACS

    • About Rose LaPierre

    • Module 5 PowerPoint: Art of Listening

    • Module 5 Video: Art of Listening

    • Module 5 References: Art of Listening

  • 8

    Module 6: Utilizing Nature’s Gifts for Expressive Arts in Nature Play Therapy Taught by Jamie Lynn Langley, LCSW, RPT-S

    • About Jamie Lynn Langley

    • Module 6 PowerPoint: Nature's Gifts

    • Module 6 Video: Nature's Gifts

    • Module 6 References: Nature's Gifts

  • 9

    Module 7: Bringing Nature into the Playroom Taught by Lynn Louise Wonders, LPC, RPT-S

    • About Lynn Louise Wonders

    • Module 7 PowerPoint: Bringing Nature

    • Module 7 Video: Bringing Nature

    • Module 7 References: Bringing Nature

  • 10

    Module 8: Inviting the Wild: A Girl’s Sand Journey in Jungian Nature Play Therapy Taught by Rosalind Heiko, PdD, RPT-S, ISST/CST-T

    • About Dr. Roz Heiko

    • Module 8 PowerPoint: Inviting the Wild

    • Module 8 Video: Inviting the Wild

    • Module 8 References: Inviting the Wild

  • 11

    Module 9: Touching Clay to Address Trauma in a Gestalt Play Therapy Encounter Taught By Janet Courtney, PhD, LCSW, RPT-S

    • About Dr. Janet Courtney

    • Module 9 PowerPoint: Touching Clay

    • Module 9 Video: Touching Clay

    • Module 9 References: Touching Clay

  • 12

    Module 10: Somatic & Grounding Techniques In Nature Play Therapy Taught by Rose LaPierre, LPC, RPT-S, ACS

    • About Rose LaPierre

    • Module 10 PowerPoint: Somatic

    • Module 10 Video: Grounding Techniques

    • Module 10 Video #2: Somatic

    • Module 10 Article: Sensory Processing Issues Explained

    • Module 10 Article: Interoception Printable Resources

    • Module 10 References: Somatic

  • 13

    Module 11: Closure & Termination Techniques in Nature Play Therapy Taught Collaboratively With All 5 Instructors (Jamie Lynn Langley, Lynn Louise Wonders, Janet Courtney, Rosalind Heiko and Rose LaPierre)

    • Module 11 PowerPoint: Closure & Termination

    • Module 11 Video: Closure & Termination

    • Module 11 References: Closure & Termination

  • 14

    Evaluation & Quiz

    • Course Evaluation (Required)

    • Quiz (Required)

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