5 Day Course – Level One StoryPlay® Foundations – Description, Objective and Agenda



A New Ericksonian Indirective Model of Play Therapy

Presented by Joyce C. Mills, Ph.D.

Award-winning Co-Author of Therapeutic Metaphors for Children and the Child Within

Recipient of the 1997 Annual Play Therapy International Award for an

“Outstanding career contribution to the field of child psychology & play therapy.”


  • Multisensory and Multi-cultural Metaphors for positive change
  • Approaches that go beyond diagnosis in play therapy
  • Nature as play therapy tools and co-therapist
  • Building resilience
  • Inner resources for healing trauma through StoryPlay® Therapy
  • COURSE DESCRIPTION: This five-day play therapy course teaches participants the origins, key elements, and essentials of StoryPlay® Therapy, including therapeutic metaphors, storytelling, story-crafts, sensory synchronicity, artistic, living metaphors, and therapeutic rituals and ceremonies.  A trauma and program development specialist, Dr. Mills shows how the Play Therapy model of StoryPlay®  can be effectively utilized with specialized populations or situations, such as natural and man-made disasters, PTSD, abuse, ADHD, attachment, grief and loss; and various treatment modalities; i.e., play, family, individual, group therapy, sand tray, expressive art, and movement.
  • StoryPlay® is a multi-cultural, resiliency-based, indirective Play Therapy model that draws upon the natural inner resources, skills, and strengths of each child, adolescent, adult or family member to generate healing, growth, and change. StoryPlay® Therapy is founded upon the principles of Milton H. Erickson, Indigenous teachings, and the innovative approaches of healer and therapist Dr.Joyce Mills.  With the power and spirit of therapeutic storytelling and play at its center, each element of the StoryPlay® approach provides participants with play therapy, hands-on, creative tools for working with difficult or traumatized clients using their favored treatment modality or philosophy; to include sand tray, music, expressive arts, etc.  Additionally, the approaches encompassed within the StoryPlay® model can be applied in a variety of settings; i.e., individual, family, group, classroom, and hospital.


  • COURSE OBJECTIVES: The participant will be able to:
  1. Define three essential elements of the StoryPlay® play therapy model.
  2. Utilize two core principles of Ericksonian psychotherapy to facilitate positive change.
  3. List the four stages of the Therapeutic Metamorphosis process of healing, empowerment, and transformational change used in the StoryPlay play therapy model.
  4. Apply the StoryPlay® steps for creating and utilizing therapeutic Storytelling, Artistic, and Living/Ritual Metaphors in a play therapy setting.
  5. Identify and utilize a child’s blocked sensory system in a multi-sensory play therapy setting.
  6. Recognize how to utilize the elements of our natural ecology as co-play therapists in the quest for positive change and healing.
  7. Learn multiple StoryCrafts – play therapy activities that facilitate natural healing.




Day One – Part I – The Spirit of Healing:  Moving Beyond Diagnosis in Play Therapy

9:00am – 10:15am

  • Play, imagination, and story: The multicultural language of children
  • Roots and Origins of StoryPlay® Therapy:
  •  Philosophy & Nine Essential elements of the StoryPlay® model.
  • The neuro-importance of play and storytelling.
  • Differentiating Directive, Non-directive, and Indirective Play Therapy models.

10:15-10:30 Break

10:30 – 12pm

  • Therapeutic Metamorphosis: a four-stage process for healing and change
  • Three Multicultural paradigms for restoring balance and well-being
  • The Braiding Process: three elements for creating transformational play therapy solutions
  • Breathing-relaxation exercises  – “MAGIC HAPPY BREATH”

Heartsong Meditation

12pm – 1:30 Lunch

1:30 – 3:15

Part II:  Storytelling Metaphors for children and adolescents – The doorway for effective communication and resiliency.

Resilience and protective factors

Multi-cultural aspects of storytelling

Nature as co-storyteller: You can’t yell at seeds to grow

Building Bridges: How do I begin to introduce a story/narrative?

Storytelling exercise: utilizing real life experience as therapeutic narrative

3:15-3:30 Break


Imaginative narratives

Made-up/myth therapeutic stories in play therapy

Theory and exercise

Applications in practice


  4:30-5pm  Feedback, review , closure


   Day Two:  Part I – Sensory synchronicity –


  • Recognizing sensory preferences during play therapy sessions
  • Conscious and unconscious communication patterns
  •                 Exercise
  • The Out-of-Conscious System – Retrieving and using blocked sensory systems


10:15-10:30am Break


        Part II – Artistic Metaphors – Strategies for Awakening the Inner Resources Within

  • Definition & Philosophy
  • Case presentations and slides to include:
  •  children’s art in play therapy for healing and change
  • Artistic Metaphor in healing trauma

12-1:30pm – Lunch


  • Exercises include:

Resource drawing exercise: Three steps transforming problems to solutions

Resource Board Game –  children

Pathway to Success Map – adolescents

3:15-3:30 – Break


  • Exercise – Integration from Day One and Day Two
  • Review – applications
  • Closure


Day Three:  StoryCrafts – Activities for individual, family and community healing


  • Definition and application
  • Slides and case presentations showing how StoryPlay® Therapy is used in individual, classroom, and community applications after man-made and natural disasters to heal trauma and develop resilience.

10:15-10:30 Break


  • Each StoryCraft exercise includes cultural story related to exercise:

Bowl of Light

Identity Shield

Dreaming Pot

Note: Group process to follow each StoryCraft.

12-1:30pm Lunch

1:30-3:15 StoryCraft Exercises continued:

Storyteller Puppet

Garden of Happiness

Life-Story Puzzle

3:15-3:30 – Break


  • Completion of StoryCrafts
  • Group process


 Feedback and review



Day Four: Part I – Living Metaphors and Therapeutic Ritual Metaphors


Living Metaphors:

  • Purpose, framework and use in play therapy.


10:15-10:30 Break


  • Purpose and framework for Creating a Therapeutic Ritual or Ceremony
  • How to create a peace garden: a healing ritual for children, families and communities.
  • Case examples demonstrating application to include: abuse, rites of passage, reunification, celebrations, death and dying.


12-1:30 – Lunch


  • Group presentation of Living Metaphors and Rituals created from exercises

Feedback and review

3:15-3:30 Break



Part II – Therapeutic Metamorphosis – Braiding it all Together


Participants will be asked to braid together the elements of all four days:

                Storytelling Metaphors

                Sensory Synchronicity

                Artistic Metaphors


                Living Metaphors

                Therapeutic Rituals


Closure – Feedback – review


Day Five: Putting StoryPlay® into Play

*Through review, exercises, group participation, and coaching, participants will be given an opportunity to integrate each element they have learned during the previous four days into their particular practice or program.

Schedule will be same as previous four days:

9-10:15am * Storytelling/narrative

10:15-10:30 Break

10:30-12 * Sensory synchronicity and Artistic Metaphors

12-1:30 – Lunch

1:30-3:15 *StoryCrafts

3:15-3:30 – Break

3:30-5pm * Living Metaphors and Therapeutic Rituals and Ceremonies


Closure – Participants will receive a Certificate of Completion of this Level I – Foundations Training.