Full Course Description

Step-by-Step Polyvagal & Play Therapy for Kids with Trauma

Join Jackie Flynn, EDS, LMHC-S, RPT, and Dora Henderson, LMHC, RPT-S, two passionate and expert therapists  Play Therapists and traumatologists in this immersive, interactive course where they’ll demystify the complexities of the Polyvagal Theory.

By integrating practical Play Therapy applications—nature-based play, animal imagery, movement, puppets and more into your practice—you’ll interact with kids – on their level – to help them become “detectives” of their own autonomic nervous system. Through an integrative framework, Jackie and Dora will teach you ways the autonomic nervous system impacts children's capacity to: 

  • Manage stress 
  • Express themselves 
  • Regulate emotional states 
  • Navigate relationships 

A Bottom-Up Polyvagal Play Therapy approach for working with complex trauma through: 

  • Nature-based play 
  • Animal metaphors and imagery 
  • Movement
  • Puppets and more!

You’ll witness healing in even the most painful of realities through the transformative effects of playfully applying Polyvagal Theory, all while creating a culturally considerate practice for every child.

Walk away from this training with a therapeutic toolbox filled with practical, ready-to-apply Polyvagal-inspired Play Therapy techniques that you can immediately implement in your practice supporting regulation of the autonomic nervous system! 

This training will transform your clinical practice with children and adolescents. 

Program Information


  1. Describe the definition of play therapy as defined by Dr. Stephen Porges according to the Polyvagal Theory.
  2. Identify the functions of 3 states of the Autonomic Nervous System: Ventral Vagal, Sympathetic, and Dorsal Vagal, with the hybrid states.
  3. Discuss how play therapy supports regulation of the Autonomic Nervous System.
  4. Demonstrate ways to support clients with state change through Autonomic Nervous System mapping and shifting states in play therapy.
  5. Compare and contrast a bottom-up and top-down approaches to play therapy.
  6. Describe how to engage in nature-based Play Therapy with mindfulness and movement to support regulation of the Autonomic Nervous System.
  7. Explain stress responses of the nervous system through the concept of “behaviors” as “adaptations” in play therapy.
  8. Describe the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the play therapy process as it applies to play therapy and complex trauma.
  9. Identify key aspects of the neuroception of safety and their importance in play therapy applications when working with children who have experienced trauma.
  10. Apply 10 or more play therapy techniques to assist children in regulation, stress reduction, and social interactions.
  11. Identify 3 key aspects of the neuroception of safety and their importance in play therapy applications when working with children who have experienced trauma. 
  12. Demonstrate ways to utilize movement in Play Therapy releasing trapped activation energy in support of regulation of the autonomic nervous system.
  13. Utilize animal themed imagery to support understanding of neuroception and co-regulation through the lens of the polyvagal theory and play therapy.



Deeply Attune with Your Young Clients  

  • Heal from even the most painful trauma histories
  • Safely increase awareness and tolerance emotions and bodily sensations
  • Enhance kid’s recognition of emotions, in self and others
  • Expand self-awareness, nurture empathy, and enhance autonomic flexibility
  • Tips to build diversity, equity and inclusion into play therapy practice
  • Co-regulation strategies you can use with any child

The Best Tools to Soothe Kids’ Autonomic Nervous Systems 

  • Tools to reboot the brain and body from big meltdown moments
  • Explore Porges’ Polyvagal Theory as it relates to Play Therapy
  • Key differences between top down and bottom up approaches
  • Identify arousal states and increase mind-body awareness
  • Help kids express themselves in healthy ways
  • Create a judgement-free zone for kids
  • Target the vagal brake to shift nervous system states 

Create Safety in Kids’ Bodies, Relationships and Environments

  • How survival states impact relationships & inhibit social connections 
  • Reconceptualize behaviors as survival adaptations
  • Strengthen capacity to move in and out of defensive states
  • Adapt responses to social and environmental cues
  • Create puppets as self-expression tools
  • Role play with animal metaphors for coregulation and safety

Creatively Explore the Neuroception of Safety   

  • “Pollyscan” body tracker for cues of safety & danger
  • How the body takes action for the sake of survival through neuroception
  • A somatic journey through the neuron friends in your body
  • Strengthen resilience against future challenges
  • Release trapped energy through movement
  • Customizable techniques for chronic stress and trauma 

Help Kids Become “Super Body Detectives!”

  • Introduce The ‘Ception Force Friends™ to get kids on board
  • Create a multi-cultural friendly practice with appropriate fabrics, materials, and metaphors that represent ALL children 
  • Support co-regulation and neuroception with animal-themed imagery 
  • Incorporate nature-based play for accessing deeper somatic levels
  • Discover “Miss Polly Vagal” and your vagus nerve inside of you!
  • Fun ways to map kids’ nervous systems

Target Audience

  • Counselors
  • Social Workers
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Case Managers
  • Addiction Counselors
  • Therapists
  • Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Psych Nurses
  • Other Mental Health Professionals

Copyright : 07/31/2023