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Enriching thr Therapeutic Relationship with animals & Nature.png



In recent decades humans have increasingly become disconnected from animals, and nature due to life’s busyness, societal fears, urbanization, and technological advancements. In this 3-day comprehensive course, whether you are outdoors, mobile, in a school setting, or in a more traditional indoor counseling setting, you will fully understand how the “use-of-self” sets the stage to creatively and adaptively bring the healing power of animals and nature into therapeutic healing relationships.


$500 + HST (Early Bird Special $400 + HST if booked by April 10)


8:30 - 4:30

Dates: TBD



The therapeutic relationship will be explored as the primary therapy tool in preparation for both nature and animal-based therapies. Often times when children finally reach animal and nature-based therapies, they have struggled with the more traditional in-office approaches, for this reason, the power, and control with no-talk kids are examined, how it can present within the relationship, and how no-talk therapy approaches can be helpful for these hard-to-reach children. The role of the therapist as an external regulator will be outlined. The shared values between Indigenous helping relationships, nature-based therapies, and humanism are discussed along with cultural appropriation.


Learning Objectives

  • Recall the components of the Art of the Relationship

    • Eight Basic Principles

    • Trust in the Child

    • Being With

    • Therapist Personality Characteristics

    • Therapist Self-Understanding

    • Intangibles

    • Rule of Thumb

  • Explain why kids don’t talk

  • Explain the importance of someone to feel close to, something to feel proud of in No Talk Therapy.

  • Explain the themes of No-Talk Therapy 

    • Developing wonder

    • Encouraging contributions

    • Staying positive

    • Increasing compassion

    • Making mistakes

    • Authoring Lives

  • Explain the characteristics of a No Talk Therapist

  • Explain the role of the therapist as an external regulator 

  • Interpret No Talk Kids

    • Oppositional Engagement

    • Feeling Trapped

    • Shyness

    • Disengagement

  • Compare the similarities between the values of Indigenous Knowledge in the helping relationships, nature-based therapy, and humanism

    • Relationships 

    • Wholeness

    • Multiple Perspectives

    • I-Thou Relationship

  • Self-reflection on power, control, and a not-knowing stance



The health benefits received from nature will be discussed along with the health implication that arises when a disconnect from nature occurs. The current social conditions that contribute to the decline in nature exposure will be explored. The therapeutic elements of nature and risky play will be reviewed along with nature as a “co-therapist”. Nature-based play and regulation will be highlighted. Creative ways to bring natural elements into sessions will be shared throughout.


Learning Objectives

  • Define Nature Deficit Disorder and the health implications

  • Recognize the factors and conditions contributing to nature deficit disorder

  • Provide a summary of the health benefits that come from nature

  • Summarize the therapeutic elements of nature

  • Recognize the benefits of Affective Embodied Experiences

  • Define risky play, identify types of risky play and understand the inherent risk

  • Summarize the social, psychological, and physiological benefits of outdoor play

  • Explain the connection between nature-based play, regulation, and neurophysiology

  • Describe the clinical application of play in nature-based therapy as it relates to self-and co-regulation

  • Apply nature as a “co-therapist”

    • Awaken enthusiasm

    • Child-led inquisitive wandering

    • Metaphors in nature - mirrors and mentors

    • Rituals and Celebrations

    • Outdoor living skills (survival skills)

  • Examine the ethics in Nature-Based Therapy

  • Understand how to develop a nature-based therapy practice in the play therapy setting



An overview of the various types of animal-assisted interventions will be discussed along with proper terminology, ethics, and animal welfare. The health benefits of animals will be covered in addition to the screening process for determining the appropriateness for clients. Animal selection and adaptations for non-animal environments will be explored with the application of animal-assisted therapy techniques.


Learning Objectives

  • Recall the brief evolution of the human-animal bond

  • Recall  a brief history of animal-assisted interventions

  • Recall and define the broad range of animal-assisted interventions

  • Recall and define the various working animal terminology

  • Summarize animal-assisted rapport building

  • Summarize the triad relationship in the therapeutic process

  • Summarize the benefits of animals as surrogates for therapeutic touch

  • Adapt animal-assisted strategies to indoor non-animal centric environments

  • Screen clients for appropriateness and risks for animal-assisted interventions

  • Apply assessments through the use of Animal-Assisted Therapy (without live animals)

    • Assess perception of self through art and projective cards

    • Assess feelings with a therapy animal

    • Gather family history through the storytelling of animal families

    • Complete a sandtray animal genogram

  • Write an animal-based metaphor (therapeutic brief story)

  • Differentiate the many ways animals assist the therapeutic relationship and process

  • Critically examine the ethics in Animal-Assisted Interventions

  • Construct a goal-oriented animal-assisted intervention treatment plan in the play therapy setting

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