Nature-Based Play and Expressive Therapies : Interventions for Working with Children, Teens, and Families book cover
1st Edition

Nature-Based Play and Expressive Therapies
Interventions for Working with Children, Teens, and Families

ISBN 9780367712679
Published March 21, 2022 by Routledge
284 Pages 98 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Nature-Based Play and Expressive Therapies addresses a wide range of healing modalities and case studies that can be used in both indoor and outdoor environments.

Each chapter includes vignettes to support the interventions and approaches presented. Readers will find a diverse array of helpful handouts and topics explored, including tips for creating outdoor healing gardens and labyrinths, guidelines for using nature to address trauma, working with sandplay and storytelling in nature, adapting nature-based interventions via telehealth, and much more.

Chapters focus on work with young children and teens in individual settings as well as work with families and groups, making this book an important read for a wide range of mental health professionals.

Table of Contents

Part I: Essential Nature Foundations

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

Janet A. Courtney and Jamie Lynn Langley

2. "Not Just A Walk in the Park: Complex Layers of Integrating Nature into Play Therapy Practice"

Judi A. Parson and Megan Ellard

3. Creation of Safe Space for Transformation and Healing: The Chrysalis Model of Intentional Design for Healing Gardens

Angela M. Cavett


Part II: Cultural Considerations

4. Let's Go Outside: Nature-Based Play Therapy through the Lens of Cultural Humility

Meyleen Velasquez

5. Sacred Ground: The Cultural Implication of Nature-Based Therapy with Young Children and the Intersection of Culture

Harleen Hutchinson


Part III: Healing Nature-based Trauma Therapies

6. The Nature of TraumaPlay®: Incorporating Nature into the Seven Key Components

Paris Goodyear-Brown

7. Using Nature to Create Safety for Medical Trauma Integration

Rose Lapiere and Lisa Dion

8. The Integration of Nature-Based Play and EMDR Therapies in the Aftermath of Trauma

Jackie Flynn


Part IV: Nature Play Therapy Models and Other Individual Therapeutic Applications

9. Cultivating Mindfulness Through Use of Nature in Play Therapy

Lynn Louise Wonders

10. Nature-Based Child-Centered Play Therapy: Taking the Playroom Outside

Jacqueline M. Swank and Sang Min Shin

11. Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy and Learning for Children: Why Horses?

Susan Jung


Part V: Nature-Based Family Interventions

12. Tiny Hearts and Hands: Nature Sensory Play Promotes Infant Mental Health

Janet A. Courtney and Ashley S. Lingerfelt

13. Nature Play Therapy as a Healing Way for Children, Teens, and Families: Incorporating Nature with Play and Expressive Therapies

Jamie Lynn Langley

14. Using Nature-based Interventions in Family Play Therapy 

Jennifer Taylor and Bree Conklin


Part VI: Nature-based Storytelling Interventions

15. Into the Great Forest: Fairy-Tale Themes of the Wild Take Shape in Sandplay

Rosalind Heiko

16. The Wisdom of Nature: StoryPlay®, Connecting Nature’s Gifts of Thriving and Resiliency to Play

Danielle Woods and Joyce C. Mills

17. Story Stone Play: Embodied Imagination in Virtual Therapy and Beyond

Cyndera Quackenbush and Janet Courtney


Part VII: Closing Activities

Closing Considerations: Nature Appreciation and Gratitude

Jamie Lynn Langley and Janet A. Courtney




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Janet A. Courtney, PhD, RPT-S is founder of FirstPlay® Therapy and author of Healing Child and Family Trauma Through Expressive and Play Therapies, Infant Play Therapy, and Touch in Child Counseling and Play Therapy.

Jamie Lynn Langley, LCSW, RPT-S maintains a private practice and is teaching faculty at Middle Tennessee State University. She is president of the Tennessee Association for Play Therapy and provides play therapy training and supervision.

Lynn Louise Wonders, LPC, RPT-S is a child and family counselor, professional trainer, consultant, and author of When Parents Are at War: A Child Therapist's Guide to Navigating High Conflict Divorce and the Miss Piper's Playroom series of therapeutic children’s books.

Rosalind Heiko, PhD, ISST, RPT-S is a sandplay therapist, founding board member of the World Association of Sand Therapy Professionals and author of A Therapist’s Guide to Mapping the Girl Heroine’s Journey in Sandplay.

Rose LaPiere, LPC, RPT-S, ACS is a trauma therapist and is past president of NJCA-Creativity Division and currently serving on the board for the World Association of Sand Therapy Professionals.


"This book is a nourishing banquet of play and healing. It offers great resources for those who connect children, families, and communities to the natural world." — Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, Vitamin N, and Our Wild Calling

"Brilliant! Blending the powers of play and expressive therapies with the robust healing of the natural world is a groundbreaking contribution! Highly recommended!" — David A. Crenshaw, PhD, ABPP, RPT-S, author and board-certified clinical psychologist 

"Ready for an adventure? Nature-Based Play and Expressive Therapies guides you through the rationale, explores the research base for nature play, and reveals vital cultural considerations to meaningfully integrate the wisdom of the natural world into your practice. Offering abundant and detailed case studies and compelling interventions, the authors walk readers through a verdant landscape of techniques and models of using nature to nurture healing and growth. In addition, authors describe both individual and family interventions, address nature-based play therapy in urban environments and discuss how to bring nature into the therapy room. Readers of this inspiring anthology are invited into the woods to explore relationships, process trauma, and promote emotional well-being with nature as their co-therapist!" — Anne Stewart, PhD, professor of graduate psychology at James Madison University and registered play therapist supervisor