Fifth Annual Play Therapy Conference to Feature Keynote Speaker Bonnie Badenoch

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The fifth annual Play Therapy Conference, presented by the Office of Play Therapy Research & Training at the University of Arkansas, will host a national speaker at the event in Fayetteville on June 21-22.

The keynote speaker will be Bonnie Badenoch, Ph.D., LMFT, a marriage and family therapist, mentor and co-founder of Nurturing the Heart with the Brain in Mind, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering awareness of the brain, mind, and relationships.

She is the author of Being a Brain-Wise Therapist: A Practical Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology and The Heart of Trauma: Healing the Embodied Brain in the Context of Relationships. Badenoch is on the advisory board of the Global Association for Interpersonal Neurobiology Studies (GAINS).

Badenoch will speak to the group, which will be made up of mental health professionals and teachers about "The Heart of Trauma: How Relational Neuroscience, Presence, and Play Help Us Heal Trauma at Every Age." Participants can receive 12 continuing education units toward becoming a registered play therapist or certified child-parent relationship therapy trainer.

Kristi Perryman, an assistant professor of counselor education in the College of Education and Health Professions and the director of the Office of Play Therapy, said the conference offers training not only for students majoring in counseling and mental health professionals in the field, but would be appropriate for students studying psychology, social work, occupational therapy, and nursing,

This year's program will revolve around understanding how our nervous systems respond to traumatic circumstances, so teachers and parents can help create a rich play environments to help counter those effects. Play can support brain development to help create resilient lives and meaningful relationships for people of every age.

About 100 people are expected to attend the conference from various states. Space is still available.

A description of the conference notes that "interpersonal neurobiology tells us that within the foundation of a warm, sustaining relationship, all the ingredients for repairing upset nervous systems and finding the road toward secure attachment are present."

The two-day conference will allow participants to engage in whole-brained learning and expand their knowledge about how neurobiological processes unfold. They'll also do some hands-on learning, which will include working with sand and miniatures and drawing with their non-dominant hand.

The conference will start with a neurobiologically-based understanding of what trauma is, then focus on brain development in the first two years of life in traumatic and non-traumatic circumstances. The embodied brain, including belly and heart, the importance of implicit memory, the workings of the autonomic nervous system, mirror neurons, and resonance circuitry will be among the topics covered.

The U of A Office of Play Therapy received its designation as a nationally approved center by the Association for Play Therapy in 2015. The department offers the 150 CEU's needed to become a Registered Play Therapist each year at these events:

  • Annual Summer Conference: 12 hours (2-day workshop offered each summer)
  • Introduction to Play Therapy: 67.5 hours (5-week course offered each summer)
  • Counseling Children and Adolescents Through Play: 67.5 (16-week course offered each spring)
  • Additional workshops are offered throughout the year in which the additional 3 hours may be obtained.

This year's summer conference begins with check-in at 8 a.m. on June 21 and ends at 4 p.m. each day.

Register online here.


Kristi Leann Perryman, assistant professor
Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders

Shannon Magsam, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions


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