Healing Trauma Using Sand & Play: An Interpersonal Neurobiology Perspective

Event Date: September 11, 2019
Time: 9:00am-4:30pm
Cost: $45 - Registration Only; $75 - Registration with CEUs
CEU's Available: This workshop is approved for 6 continuing education units for LPC, LMFT, Social Workers, Educators, Clergy

The Ecumenical Center for Religion and Health is an approved provider of continuing education by the State of Texas for the following: LPC, LMFT, LSW, LCSW, LMSW, and LCDC. The Center is also an approved provider of CPE by the Texas Education Agency, TEA CPE Number 902304.


Play as a source of joy, is a natural tool for healing trauma. Although Western cultures often view play as an amusement or even a waste of time, relational play is actually an important avenue for building resilient and flexible nervous systems.
Play therapy activities serve as neural exercises helping a person to develop skills of transitioning quickly from states of over arousal or under arousal back to the calm of safe connection after environmental challenges are met. Traumatic experiences often diminish this flexibility.
Join Theresa Kestly, PhD for a day of hands on activity using case materials to experience and articulate the resilience building and healing benefits of play.

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will be able to describe how sand tray and play therapy activities serve as neural exercises to create flexible nervous systems that help to heal trauma in play therapy context.
  • Participants will identify the three branches of the polyvagal nervous system that are visible during sand tray and other play therapy activities.
  • Participants will learn to explain to another person how the nervous system works during play therapy using the traffic light analogy of Stephen Porges.
  • Participants will identify at least three of seven motivational-emotional systems in the brain.
  • Participants will be able to describe one way that sand tray play therapy provides the safety that is required to heal trauma from an interpersonal neurobiology perspective.
  • Participants will discuss a researcher who has provided scientific evidence for the role of play in healing trauma and building resilience.

About the Speaker:

Theresa Kestly, PhD is a clinical psychologist, educator, consultant and a registered play therapist/supervisor. She is author of The Interpersonal Neurobiology of Play: Brain-Building Interventions for Well-Being, part of the Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology. In her private practice in Corrales, New Mexico, she specializes in play therapy and sand tray therapy with children, adults, families and couples. Theresa has worked with Native Americans over a number of years as a teacher and consultant. She is past president of the New Mexico Association for Play Therapy, and she is the founder and director of the Sand Tay Training Institute of New Mexico in Corrales, New Mexico.

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