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Digital Seminar

Touch and Boundary Setting in Child Counseling & Classrooms: Interventions to Manage Challenging and Ethical Dilemmas

Janet Courtney, PhD, LCSW
5 Hours 57 Minutes
Dec 06, 2017
Product Code:
Media Type:
Digital Seminar
Never expires.


  • Skills for working with autism, attachment, aggression, ADHD, physical & sexual abuse
  • Play therapy techniques to help kids establish healthy boundaries
  • Professional and legal boundaries around safe physical contact in therapy
  • Touch best-practice guidelines

Touch in therapy with children has long been a taboo topic and a hotbed of controversy!

We, as practitioners and educators, are challenged daily with ethical and clinical/ educational dilemmas related to touch from a child’s request for a hug, to a child inappropriately touching, to physical acts of aggression.

Join Janet Courtney, PhD, LCSW, RPT and leading expert in the field of touch, in this ground-breaking workshop. You will learn the current research related to the neurobiology of touch and attachment, plus the varied mediating factors that impact child initiated verses practitioner/educator initiated touch.

Discover varied touch-informed play therapy approaches that ethically intervene with child problems and diagnoses related to trauma, sexual and physical abuse, domestic violence, ADHD, anxiety, and attachment.

You’ll walk away with new interventions to successfully manage in-the-moment challenging touch behaviors, as well as play therapy-based techniques to help kids and teens establish healthy touch boundaries. Increase your professional awareness and competency through lab activities, and clinical and ethical touch guidelines to immediately lower concerns of liability.



Janet Courtney, PhD, LCSW's Profile

Janet Courtney, PhD, LCSW Related seminars and products

Janet A. Courtney, PhD, LCSW, is Founder of FirstPlay Therapy®, an Infant Mental Health & Developmental Play Therapy model and Founder and Editor of FirstPlay® Café: An e-magazine for parents (womb to six Years). She is a Registered Play Therapy Supervisor, TEDx Speaker and presently Chair of the Association for Play Therapy Ethics and Practice Committee and past President of the Florida Association for Play Therapy and former Chair of the Viola Brody Award Committee. Awarded Third Place overall in the Best Practices Showcase for FirstPlay Therapy at the First 1000 Days Infant Mental Health Summit (Sept, 2018) along with the Children’s Healing Institute.

She is author and editor of Infant Play Therapy: Foundations, Programs, Models and Practice, and Healing Child and Family Trauma through Expressive and Play Therapies: Art, Nature, Storytelling, Body & Mindfulness, and Touch in Child Counseling and Play Therapy: An Ethical and Clinical Guide. New York, NY: Routledge, and her research into practitioner experiences of training in touch and Developmental Play Therapy is published in the American Journal of Art Therapy and the International Journal of Play Therapy. She is a contributing author for the chapter, “Touching Autism through Developmental Play Therapy” inthe book, Play-based Interventions for Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders; and has a chapter in the book, Environmental Expressive Therapies (2017), titled: “The Art of Utilizing the Metaphorical Elements of Nature as ‘Co Therapist’in Ecopsychology Play Therapy.” She is also published in the Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture. She offers a certification in FirstPlay Therapy® (including FirstPlay® Infant Massage Storytelling) and provides training to professionals in the Ethical and Clinical Competencies of Touch, FirstPlay® Therapy, Ericksonian-based StoryPlay®, Expressive Therapies, and Ecopsychology Play Therapy.

She has been invited to speak nationally and internationally including Bali, Indonesia, theCayman Islands, England, Ireland, Morocco, Russia and the Ukraine. She is a provider through the Florida state boards of Mental Health and Massage Therapy, and an approved provider through the Association for Play Therapy. She specializes in Infant Mental Healthand Infant Play Therapy, Attachment, and Trauma related issues. Dr. Courtney’s new form of Kinesthetic Storytelling® can be found in her children’s book, The Magic Rainbow. Website: and


Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Janet Courtney is founder of FirstPlay™ Therapy.  She is in private practice and an adjunct professor at Barry University. Dr. Courtney receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.

Non-financial: Janet Courtney is a member of the National Association of Social Workers.

Additional Info

Program Information

Access for Self-Study (Non-Interactive)

Access never expires for this product.


  1. Administer at least 10 “mediating factors” related to touch and how they interrelate to determine best practice interventions.
  2. Explore the varied play therapy models that use touch as an intervention.
  3. Characterize at least seven interventions to educate children regarding safe touch boundaries and body awareness.
  4. Determine 10 recommended clinical and ethical touch guidelines in child counseling and play therapy practice.
  5. Propose why increasing professional touch awareness is crucial to an individual’s professional development especially when working with abused children.
  6. Intervene to educate parents and caretakers about the neurobiology of touch and its relationship to attachment and self-regulation.
  7. Specify at least three play therapy touch educator interventions that assist children setting personal space boundaries.


Breaking down the Touch Controversy

  • Why the problem with touch & children?
  • Touch with children vs adults
  • “No touch” policies—More harm than good?
  • Touch and your code of ethics
  • Male vs female practitioner liability
  • Examining the “slippery slope” argument
  • Current research

Neurobiology of Touch

  • Oxytocin—the “calming & connectivity” hormone
  • Cortisol & hurtful or stressful touch
  • Parasympathetic nervous system (PNS)
  • C-tactile fibers—Emotional touch
  • Sensory mirror neurons – develop empathy and interconnectivity
  • Psychoeducation

Assessing Mediating Factors of Touch

  • Types of touch: child initiated, practitioner initiated, task-oriented, referential…
  • Child’s age, gender, diagnosis
  • Theoretical approach
  • Cultural, religion, and more…

Case Examples/Ethical Dilemmas - Respond, Intervene & Set Safe Boundaries in Clinics/Classrooms

  • Recommendations for working with physically & sexually abused children—attunement/ proximity/cues
  • Alternatives to physical restraint – interventions for physically aggressive kids/teens
  • Skills for working with children diagnosed with autism, reactive attachment disorder, ADHD (attunement/proximity/cues)
  • Child Restraint—informed consent sample
  • Managing inappropriate touching by the child
  • Developmental differences: infants, children, teens

Play Therapy & Assessments - Touch as an Intervention

  • Developmental play therapy—touch and attachment disorders
  • DIR/floortime and children with autism
  • FirstPlay®--facilitating corrective (and preventive) experiences of touch between infants and parents
  • Touch in animal assisted therapy
  • Peer-to-peer massage in schools
  • Touch in groups: dance & movement/bereavement/play therapy
  • Case Examples

Lab Experiential—Growing Professional Self-Awareness

  • Knowing your own proximity space boundaries & comfort
  • Side hugs & acceptable touch alternatives
  • Practice setting appropriate boundaries with children
  • Professional touch survey small group discussion
  • Practice boundary setting interventions—through mock demonstrations

Become a “Touch Educator” with Creative Play-Based Interventions

  • “Captain May I”
  • ‘Red Light, Green Light’
  • Hula hoop Personal Space
  • “My No Touch Square!” chant activity
  • Creating safe boundaries in the sandtray & clay
  • Case study examples to apply to practice

Growing Ethical Competency in Touch

  • Aristotle’s “Practical Wisdom”
  • 5 core competencies in touch
  • Clinical & ethical touch guidelines
  • Liability risk management— informed consent

Target Audience

Counselors, Teachers/Educators, Marriage & Family Therapists, Nurses, Occupational Therapists & Occupational Therapy Assistants, Play Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers, Speech-Language Pathologists, and other Mental Health Professionals

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