Have you ever wondered what a day at a play therapy conference might look like? I can assure you, it’s a lot of fun! I recently attended a fun Play Therapy Conference focused on Puppets in Play Therapy and Nature Play Therapy. Here are some highlights of the conference. After checking in I found my seat with some colleagues from Creative Family Counseling and some play therapists from Hazard, Ky. We chatted a bit and then our trainer, Jaime Lynn Langely, LCSW, RPT-S, started the class with a fun challenge. She had us list all the ways we might use a small brown paper bag in play therapy. I listed 11 which was the most of all the people in attendance. I won a prize for having the most responses! My clients will definitely use these prizes. This was a great way to start the conference!
We spent some time learning how to use puppets in the play therapy room, then we had the opportunity to create paper bag puppets using craft supplies found in most play therapy spaces. This was fun and easy. We even had the chance to try out being a client and therapist using these puppets. I’ll admit I was self-conscious at first, but really enjoyed this activity.
The second part of the conference was on Nature Play Therapy. We had a great discussion around the importance of spending time exploring all the wonders of nature from hiking, to bird watching, and even getting our feet in mountain streams as a means of grounding ourselves. Jaime asked us all to bring in items from nature; we could pick any items we wanted but she asked that everyone bring a stick. We participated in a fun group activity using the stick in as many ways as we could imagine. We used our sticks as a magic wand, unicorn horn, sword, oar, baseball bat, golf club, bow and arrow, cane, and so many other things I can’t even begin to remember.
I searched my front yard for items from nature. I chose some of the last summer blooms from my plants and trees, okra and pepper leaves from my garden, some ivy, and hosta leaves. The photo shows only a few of the items I gathered.
Our final experiential activity for the conference was to create a mandala using some of the items we chose. Mandalas are great for mediation or to improve focus, and creating one might be a great coping skill when feeling stress or anxiety. The therapists at my table all shared their items which resulted in an even richer experience for everyone. Did you notice that the rock in the center of my mandala is heart shaped? I found it during a walk during our lunch break and just had to use it in this mandala.
So, there you have it – a behind the scenes glimpse at a day in the life of a therapist at a play therapy conference. I learned so much to bring into my sessions and had a fantastic time doing so!