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Attachment Begins in Utero: There’s No Such Thing as a Blank Slate

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Janet Courtney, PhD, LCSW, RPT-S™ |  Clair Mellenthin, LCSW, RPT-S™
1 Hour 31 Minutes
Audio and Video
May 06, 2021
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Digital Recording
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New discoveries in neuroscience have shown us just how impactful in utero experiences and the first few years of life are to one’s emotional and social developmental trajectory.

The role of early life attachment relationships for optimal brain development, self-regulation, and addressing developmental trauma, impresses why infant mental health is so crucial for a lifetime of healthy interpersonal relationships.

Join Janet A. Courtney, PhD, LCSW, Founder of FirstPlay Therapy®, an Infant Mental Health & Developmental Play Therapy model to discover new innovations in the infant-parent attachment relationship. New breakthroughs in the neurobiology of touch, will show you how crucial touch is to the attachment relationship. Touch and attachment literally go “hand-in-hand”!

You’ll be introduced to an embodied infant play therapy model of FirstPlay Therapy® to promote nurturing touch to enhance and repair the attachment relationship, increase neuroception of safety, decrease anxious states, and foster co-regulation, and promote attunement to infant cues and body language.



This online program is worth 1.75 hours CPD.



Janet Courtney, PhD, LCSW, RPT-S™'s Profile

Janet Courtney, PhD, LCSW, RPT-S™ Related seminars and products

Janet A Courtney, PhD, LCSW, RPT-S™, is founder of FirstPlay Therapy®. She is a Registered Play Therapy-Supervisor, TEDx Speaker and past Chair of the Association for Play Therapy Ethics and Practice Committee and past President of the Florida Association for Play Therapy, FirstPlay Therapy was awarded third place overall in the Best Practices Showcase for FirstPlay Therapy at the First 1000 Days Infant Mental Health Summit (2018) along with the Children’s Healing Institute. She is author and editor of the following books: Infant Play Therapy: Foundations, Programs, Models and Practice, and Healing Child and Family Trauma through Expressive and Play Therapies: Art, Nature, Storytelling, Body & Mindfulness and Nature-based Play & Expressive Therapies: Interventions for Children, Teens and Families, and Touch in Child Counseling and Play Therapy: An Ethical and Clinical Guide. Her research in practitioner experiences of training in touch and Developmental Play Therapy is published in the American Journal of Art Therapy and the International Journal of Play Therapy. She is a contributing author in several books including Play-based Interventions for Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders and the book Environmental Expressive Therapies (2017), and Play Therapy Supervision (2023). She is also published in the Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture. She offers a certification in FirstPlay Therapy® and provides training to professionals in the Ethical and Clinical Competencies of Touch, FirstPlay® Therapy, Ericksonian-based StoryPlay®, Expressive Therapies, and Nature-based Play Therapy. She has been invited to speak nationally and internationally including Bali, Indonesia, the Cayman Islands, England, Ireland, Morocco, Russia and the Ukraine. She is a provider through the Florida state boards of Mental Health and Massage Therapy, and an approved provider through the Association for Play Therapy. She specializes in infant mental health and infant play therapy, attachment, and Trauma related issues. Dr. Courtney’s new form of Kinesthetic Storytelling® can be found in her children’s book, The Magic Rainbow. Website:


Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Janet Courtney is founder of FirstPlay™ Therapy. She is in private practice and has employment relationships with Barry University and Ellen Whiteside McDonnell School of Social Work. Dr. Courtney receives royalties as a published author and receives a speaking honorarium and recording royalties from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Janet Courtney is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, World Association for Infant Mental Health, and the International Association for the Study of Affective Touch.

Clair Mellenthin, LCSW, RPT-S™'s Profile

Clair Mellenthin, LCSW, RPT-S™ Related seminars and products

Clair Mellenthin, LLC

Clair Mellenthin, LCSW, RPT-S™, is an international speaker, author, psychologist, and Registered Play Therapist Supervisor. Throughout her career, she has specialized in providing play therapy to children, teens, and their families. She is currently the Director of Child & Adolescents at Wasatch Family Therapy. Ms. Mellenthin frequently presents professional play therapy and family therapy trainings on Attachment-Centered Play Therapy, Family, and Trauma issues both nationally and internationally.

Ms. Mellenthin is a sought-after supervisor, training graduate students and interns in play therapy, and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Southern California MSW program. She is the past-president of the Utah Association for Play Therapy and remains an active member on the Board of Directors. She is the author of the books Attachment Centered Play Therapy; Play Therapy: Engaging & Powerful Techniques for the Treatment of Childhood Disorders; My Many Colors of Me Workbook and has authored several chapters and articles. In addition to being an experienced play therapist and professor, Ms. Mellenthin also appears on local and national TV and radio as an expert on children and family issues. She holds a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California.


Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Clair Mellenthin has an employment relationship with Wasatch Family Therapy. She is a published author and receives royalties. Clair Mellenthin receives a speaking honorarium, recording royalties, and book royalties from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Clair Mellenthin is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, the Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the American Psychological Association, and the Association for Play Therapy.


  1. Determine two (2) ways that the neurobiology of touch supports a secure parent-infant attachment relationship.
  2. Demonstrate 3 ways to enhance secure attachments in parent-infant relationships for (or to) - outcome.
  3. Evaluate two ways that FirstPlay Therapy Infant Play Therapy promotes the infant-parent attachment relationship.
  4. Distinguish two differences between pre-symbolic play and symbolic play.


Infant Mental Health and Infant Play Therapy

  • Demystifying infant mental health
  • Busting the misconception that infants don’t experience trauma
  • Culturally sensitive - the Therapeutic Powers of Play

Increase a Neuroception of Safety

  • The parent/infant relationship is everything
  • Understanding an infant’s window of tolerance
  • Supporting co-regulation
  • Attunement to infant cues and body language

FirstPlay Infant Play Therapy

  • Ages birth to 36 months
  • Developmental Play Therapy for nurturing gentle touch
  • Therapeutic storytelling to facilitate a cue-based attuned reciprocal relationship

Target Audience

  • Infant mental health specialists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Play therapists
  • Family therapists
  • Psychologists
  • Social workers
  • School counselors
  • Other mental health and professionals that work with the infants, young children and families


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