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An Introduction to the Emerging Practice of Nature-Based Play and Expressive Therapies

Updated: Mar 7, 2022

The first chapter of Nature-based Play & Expressive Therapies entitled An Introduction to the Emerging Practice of Nature-Based Play and Expressive Therapies is authored by Editors Dr. Janet Courtney and Jamie Lynn Langley. In this first chapter, Dr. Janet Courtney and Jamie Lynn Langley work together to lay out a meaningful foundation for the rest of this powerfully healing and practical book for child and family therapists. They introduce the reader to what the latest research says about the power of play and the healing benefits of playing in nature. The authors examine the reasons for encompassing nature into therapy work with children and families and provide a review of recent research regarding nature as an emotional and psychological healing intervention is included. The authors identify “12 C’s” of nature-based play and expressive therapies that naturally dovetail with the therapeutic powers of play. Since the implementation of nature-based therapeutic activities can include sessions both indoors and outdoors, the chapter addresses ethical considerations for safety and liability, as well as including a nature-based informed consent template. The authors include a discussion on nature ethics and respect regarding responsible use and treatment of nature and her gifts.

Dr. Janet Courtney, our Chief Editor, shared “When I see a child joyfully

playing in nature—climbing a tree, swimming in a lake or the ocean, running with friends in a park, gazing at a leaf or pinecone, my heart melts with joy. I know in that moment their brains are being re-set for positive regulation. They feel a part of nature and I know that whatever may be hurting them in their own lives is getting transformed and healed. For these reasons and others, I am thrilled that this book can help to provide practitioners with a variety of interventions that can help to support children and families utilizing nature as co-therapist in the healing process. “

Dr. Janet Courtney is Founder of FirstPlay® Therapy, an Infant Play Therapy model. Dr. Courtney is author of “Healing Child Trauma Through Expressive & Play Therapies: Art, Nature, Storytelling Body & Mindfulness,” and Editor of, “Infant Play Therapy: Foundations, Models, Programs and Practice,” and “Touch in Child Counseling and Play Therapy: An Ethical and Clinical Guide.” She has been an Adjunct Professor at Barry University School of Social Work, Miami, FL since 1997. Learn more on her website RIGHT HERE.

Jamie Lynn Langley, also Editor for this book, has a keen and long-enduring passion for the powers of play in Nature! She is an esteemed expert on all things related to nature-based play therapy and she teaches on this topic throughout the United States. Jamie says, "Nature can be a healing balm for children, teens, and families. Combining playful activities in nature, as well as bringing nature into the playroom, enables us to offer a 'double dose' of healing."

Jamie Lynn Langley is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor. She has been in practice for over 30 years, first in community mental health and then private practice since late 2016. Jamie integrates nature-based interventions and creativity in play therapy, supervision, and training provided and has authored several articles and chapters on these considerations. She is co-founder and president of the Tennessee Association for Play Therapy and on faculty at Middle Tennessee State University. Learn more about her work RIGHT HERE.

You can order your own copy of Nature-based Play and Expressive Therapies RIGHT HERE and then be sure to download the accompanying downloadable handouts that go with the book HERE.

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