With Kids 10th Birthday Conference on Children and Childhood

Many Play Therapists are now training in Story Massage as a fun and effective addition to their work. For the past three years we have run our training sessions at With Kids in Glasgow working closely with practitioners and students offering Play Therapy early interventions for children. We are delighted to share news of the With Kids 10th Birthday Conference. ‘A Wean’s World’: A Conference on Children and Childhood.

Date: Friday September 7th 2018
Time: 9.30am to 4pm (registration 9.00am to 9.30am)
Venue: The Old Sheriff Court (Scottish Youth Theatre), Brunswick Street, Glasgow, G1 1TF
Price: £95 per person (concessions available, please enquire) Lunch included

Tickets:  via Eventbrite here: With Kids 10th Birthday Conference

More information: please contact info@withkids.org.uk

To celebrate their 10th birthday With Kids are holding a conference on children and childhood exploring their work over the past 10 years. ‘A Wean’s World’ will include experiential workshops, talks and presentations giving an overview of their work. There will be discussions around the how and why of children’s behaviour, the benefits of early intervention through therapeutic approaches and why it is important as professionals to keep the child at the centre of our work.


Attendees will be able to participate in two workshops.

Workshop 1:  ‘Haud yer Wheest’: Keeping the child in mind and at the centre of complex multi-disciplinary cases
Workshop 2:  ‘Talk of the Steamie’: How to engage and support parents and carers.
Workshop 3:  ‘Ye comin’ or goin’: Recognising and preventing the repeating cycles of trauma in children
Workshop 4:  ‘Awa with the fairies’: Entering the child’s world through symbolic play
Workshop 5:  ‘Aw right pal’: The benefits of play therapy
Workshop 6:  ‘Ye dancin? – Ye askin?’: The use of non verbal communication in building relationships.
Workshop 7:  ‘I’ve got a heid full of mince’: Neurobiology and brain development in children

More about With Kids

With Kids, a Scottish based children’s mental health charity was set up in 2008 in response to what we now call ACE’s (adverse childhood experiences). Now entering their tenth year delivering Play Therapy early interventions, With Kids have worked with and supported thousands of children, parents and carers, liaised with hundreds of Head Teachers, teachers and support staff as well as statutory and voluntary agencies. Their work has given a unique insight and first hand experience of the difficulties that children in Scotland can face and enabled us to target a service in a way that is most meaningful to the children they support. In 2016 they started running the Msc in Play Therapy in collaboration with Queen Margaret University and next year will see the first trench of qualified Play Therapists graduate.

Training in Story Massage at With Kids

Our next dates for Story Massage training at With Kids are November 7th, 8th or 9th 2018. More information here: Story Massage at With Kids. 



Sign Up Today for Summer Holiday Fun!

Are you looking for new Summer Holiday FUN activities for all the family? Story Massage is the perfect activity to keep your children -or grandchildren, nephews and nieces – happy and engaged. And we now have a Story Massage Online Course to help you learn at a time and place to suit you. Sign up today and you could be sharing Story Massage with children at home or in your workplace within a few days.

How can I sign up for the online course?

You simply sign up using this link: Story Massage Online Course. You will have a choice of two options: Option 1 (£134) includes the book and some stickers; Option 2 (£115) is designed for people who already own the book or live overseas. So you could always start by buying the Story Massage Book (available from the resources page of this website) as an introduction to the benefits and fun of sharing massage stories.

A new skill for YOU…

The course is estimated to take 12-18 hours and can be taken anywhere – in the house, garden, away in a caravan, on a beach… the list goes on! We recommend that children help you as they have such amazing imaginations – so you can be studying a new skill while you spend quality time with them. It’s win, win, win for Summer Holiday fun!

And if you don’t get it finished, there is 6 months to complete the course so time when the children go back to school. And an extension is available if you still need more time.

If you are planning to use Story Massage in your work, then CPD points and a certificate are awarded at the end of the course. There is the added bonus of joining an online community to share stories and gain inspiration about ways to incorporate it into your work.

A Summer Holiday FUN activity for everyone …

Children love it! They can share it with their siblings, try it on their friends, their pets, even give you a massage at the end of a hot and perhaps stressful day? It’s FREE, fun and interactive – without the need for a screen! And once you have learnt the strokes, you can let your imagination go wild.

You will also be helping them develop a positive and respectful awareness of how touch can impact their lives, how they can talk about their feelings with confidence and feel listened to.

“The course was easy, informative and made me want to progress to finish. It has shown me the importance of giving children some attention time and to listen to their worries. I am using Story Massage with my granddaughter at present and she is sleeping so much better.” Jacqui Torah

“The online course is very supportive, practical and easy to use. All the important factors are repeated which helps learning. I loved using the stickers and creating my own stories. I was amazed at how the ten strokes can be used in so many different ways. The sky’s the limit!” Emma-Jayne Beattie

More about Story Massage

Story Massage combines the benefits of positive, respectful touch with the creativity and engagement of storytelling. Ten simple massage strokes form the basis of the Story Massage Book and training options. These strokes have a child friendly name, such as The Circle or The Sprinkle, and an easy to recognise symbol making it accessible for all. It is a fully inclusive activity, no clothing is removed and no oil is used so it is ideal for young people and children of all ages and abilities. The perfect activity for Summer Holiday fun. Sign up to the course here, today: Story Massage Online Course

Story Massage Book

Benefits of Story Massage for Babies

“Story Massage for babies is fun and interactive” says Sally Hudson, a Story Massage Instructor who has developed a five week block of ‘Story Massage, Movement and Song’ classes as a follow-on from her Baby Massage and Yoga classes. Sally, founder of Little Miracle Massage in Angus, was recently presented with our Best Practice Award for her enthusiasm and commitment to helping parents share the benefits of positive touch as their children grow from baby to child to teen. We asked Sally some questions about her work.

What happens in a ‘Story Massage, Movement and Song’ class?

Classes are held in the morning, from 10.00 to 11.15. The babies attending are over the age of 5-6 months as there is a lot of interaction, lap bouncing and movement in my classes. There is a different theme each week such as Animals, Seaside Fun, Weather, Traditional Nursery Rhymes and Tapping Sticks.

Each class has a set structure as babies respond so well to repetition. We always start with our Hello Song. We sing it to each baby while their Mums are massaging them, and they love this. The babies seem to get very excited because they know what is coming next…. we do some stretching and then we begin the themed Story Massage session. We finish each week with massage to our Goodbye Song.

What is Story Massage for Babies?

Story Massage for babies is done fully clothed and no oil is used. Parents learn ten simple massage strokes which are used to describe words. For example, parents might use a big circular massage movement to illustrate the sun is shining, or a walking massage movement to illustrate a bear. Once these basic strokes are learnt, they can be used to share positive touch through a whole variety of stories, rhymes and songs.

Each week, we sing songs on the theme and use the different massage strokes as we sing together. We repeat each song about 2-3 times as this give the Mums the opportunity to memorise the words and the strokes, and the repetition encourages relaxation and language development for the babies. We also includes a short story on the theme of the week. I read this aloud while the Mums massage their babies and it encourages everyone to listen and relax.

Do you use any props?

We use props relating to the class theme. And there are always sensory props available such as scarves, feathers, textured balls and soft brushes which give a variation to touch other than Mum’s hands. Babies enjoy the feathery sensation or the tickle of a scarf on their body.

What are the benefits of Story Massage for babies?

Story Massage can help with physical, emotional and social development.

  • Story Massage allows parents to continue to offer nurturing massage as the child grows. It is a life-long skill that they can use for many years.
  • Repetition of songs and stories encourages anticipation, development of language skills, focus and concentration, communication, turn taking and socialising skills.
  • Research (taken from The Touch Institute, Miami) has proven that children who learn healthy views of touch and are provided with tactile experience by a parent or carers are more likely to grow up with a healthy self image, a sense of appropriate boundaries and long lasting intimate relationships.
  • Babies and parents enjoy the fun, creativity and interaction of positive touch through Story Massage
  • Story Massage offers parents the opportunity to connect and relax with their baby through the medium of story telling, singing and loving touch. This helps build upon their existing parent/child bond.

How did you train in Story Massage?

I chose to take the Story Massage Online Course because attending a course can often be quite difficult when you have a lot of demands to juggle. I am already a practising Massage in School Programme (MISP) Instructor so it was easy for me to complete it quite quickly. I chose to do the training so that I could use Story Massage in a school setting within my regular groups, and also as a follow on from Baby Massage classes. I can see endless opportunities for Story Massage as a 1-2-1 activity and in classes and groups for children of all ages and abilities.

You can find all the details of our training options here: Story Massage Training. 

Benefits of Story Massage for Children with PMLD

“I am just so glad that I discovered the world of Story Massage,” says Sophie Munnery, whose daughter has Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, “Story Massage can bring so many benefits for children with PMLD and their families. It has opened up a whole new world to us, and to her.” Sophie attended a Story Massage training day and has recently been presented with our Best Practice Award for showing the versatility and fun of Story Massage in her family home. We asked her for some tips and advice to share with others caring for children with PMLD at home or in school.

When and where do you share Story Massage with Maisy?

The most enjoyable part of Story Massage is that it can be done anywhere and at any time. Maisy has Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, severe epilepsy and she is also registered blind and has scoliosis of the spine. It is wonderful to have an activity that she enjoys so much – and can fit in so well with daily life. She loves to have Story Massage at any time of day – from waking in the morning to going to bed at night. There is no set time!

I think it is important to experiment with different positions especially if working with children/adults with PMLD and those who have different sensory issues. Maisy’s preferred position is side- lying. This gives an opportunity to use the massage moves on all part of the body from head to toe. Here is a video of Maisy enjoying Cinderella as a massage story.

What have been the key benefits for Maisy?

There are so many benefits for young people and children with PMLD. For Maisy, it has been especially helpful for:

  • strengthening bonds and connection. Maisy has so many complex issues that we sometimes feel so helpless to support her through the good times and the bad times. Story Massage offers a positive way of explaining actions, thoughts and feelings in a way that I had never even considered doing.
  • helping her to feel calm and relaxed after stressful hospital appointments or physiotherapy.

  • providing a positive feeling of reassurance and comfort when she is feeling distressed or poorly especially after seizures.
  • reducing pain and discomfort. We have noticed a real difference in a few months and it so much nicer to give than yet another medication.
  • enhancing Maisy’s vocal sounds. She is non-verbal but she makes such happy sounds during Story Massage that we know she is enjoying herself!
  • explaining difficult life events such as the tragic loss of my mother. It was heartbreaking not being able to explain where her Granny had gone. She knew her from the sound of her voice and her gentle touch. We have adapted my mother’s poems as massage stories and this is the perfect way to give a bit of her back to Maisy.

Does her sister, Poppy, enjoy Story Massage too?

My youngest daughter, Poppy, also loves Story Massage. She has learnt the strokes from me and from the book/video Once upon a touch…story massage for children. The photo below is taken in Maisy’s sensory room with Poppy reading from the book.

The bond that has always been so special between her and Maisy has become a lot stronger now that she can interact with Story Massage.  They have such fun together. Poppy even uses Story Massage in her own play with her dolls and pets. It is such a magical thing to see when a child finds something that makes their imagination go wild! And we all love it when family and friends join in too, even in the rain – like this photo below.

What are Maisy’s favourite massage stories?

Maisy loves all the stories from the book. And I love to find stories or poems that are relevant to certain activities or situations and adapt them as massage stories. Poppy often gives impromptu Story Massage sessions where she makes up her own stories!

More about Story Massage for children with PMLD

Story Massage combines the benefits of positive, respectful touch with the creativity and engagement of storytelling. Ten simple massage strokes form the basis of the Story Massage programme. These strokes have a child friendly name, such as The Circle or The Sprinkle, and an easy to recognise symbol making it accessible for all. It is a fully inclusive activity, no clothing is removed and no oil is used so it is ideal for young people and children with PMLD in the home or school.

Would you like to train in Story Massage?

Are you inspired by the way that Sophie is using Story Massage in the family home?  Would you like to train to use Story Massage in your work or home? We run one day accredited training courses that is held around the country for individuals and groups. These days can also be organised as in-house training sessions. We teach you how to share the ten Story Massage strokes and work with you to adapt familiar stories and even create some sensory stories of your own. Ideal for parents, teachers, SEN staff, support staff, therapists, Early Years practitioners,  those working with people with additional needs, Baby Massage Instructors, Relax Kids Coaches… everyone with an interest in sharing positive touch activities with children. All the information is here: Story Massage


Sharing Story Massage Overseas

Story Massage is now global… Our Story Massage online course has opened up whole new opportunities for people living abroad to study and learn to use Story Massage.  We also get many requests from overseas for our book. In this blog, we will look at how our UK based Instructors are travelling overseas to share the benefits Story Massage with children, young people and their families in all corners of the world.

After the Tsunami in Japan

Our Story Massage project was launched following the success of a visit by Mary, co-founder, to work with the children who were so traumatised after the 2011 tsunami in Japan.  Sandra and Mary had worked together on the idea of combining story with positive touch and it was the feedback from teachers, parents, social workers and children in Japan that made them determined to share the many benefits with everyone, all over the world. You can find out more about Mary’s visit and how the work is continuing: Story Massage for Japanese Children and The Smiling Flowers Story Massage.

At a School in a Township in South Africa

Sarah Williams, a Story Massage Instructor, was so inspired by the benefits of Story Massage for children in Japan that she decided to include a session into her two week holiday in Cape Town. You can read how she approached The Earthchild Project and her experiences of sharing Story Massage: Story Massage and The Earthchild Project. 

With Vulnerable Families in Mexico

Sandra Fernandez Conde, a Best Practice Winner, is an international baby massage trainer who is on a mission to share the benefits of massage within families especially in Mexico, where she is originally from. “Story Massage is a new concept for parents,” says Sandra, who runs free workshops for vulnerable families, “and they love it!” Sandra has translated Story Massage resources into Spanish and she is happy to share them with anyone who has trained with us.

With Teenagers in Nepal

As Mary discovered in Nepal, Story Massage can be a powerful medium for enabling young people and adults to share and explore their own personal story in a safe environment. Mary worked alongside the Empowering Women of Nepal project to encourage young teenagers to share life experiences, feelings and memories that may otherwise remain unspoken and unresolved. You can read more about the session here: Exploring Life Stories with Story Massage

The reach of positive touch never ceases to amaze me. All it takes are some bold and visionary advocates, in this case from the folks at Story Massage UK working in Nepal. This totally innovative program uses structured touch for interpersonal skills development, confidence building and self-discovery. David Palmer, Founder and Executive Director of TouchPro International

With Children and Teenagers in Vietnam

Sophie McLeish, a Best Practice Winner, has worked with children and teenagers in a foster home in Vietnam. Sophie talks about how she approached the foster home and the challenges of working with non-English speakers of different ages in this blog: Story Massage in Vietnam

At Refugee Camps in Turkey and Dunkirk

Back in 2016, we had a message from Rachel, a British volunteer worker in a refugee camp in Eastern Turkey who was using Story Massage with young, pregnant rape victims in the camp. “For a few hours the girls were smiling and happy,” she says, “they were just young girls … not traumatised, living in tents and petrified of giving birth in such intolerable circumstances. For a few hours, we had fun!” You can read about Rachel’s harrowing but heartwarming experiences here: Nurturing Massage for Young Rape Victims

A year later, Mary spent a week sharing Story Massage with children and families at the Dunkirk Refugee Camp.  She recalls how one volunteer said: “Hearing those little voices sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star as they massaged each others’ backs felt quite magical in such a sad and desperate situation.” Mary has written about the challenges and rewards of working with refugees with poor concentration levels and varying levels of communicating in English: Story Massage in Dunkirk Refugee Camp. And also here: Old MacDonald Had a Farm

With Children from Chernobyl

Here are some simple ideas for running a session for children and families who are new to Story Massage and may not be able to communicate in English: Ideas for a Story Massage session and also: Having Fun with Story Massage. These are based on Mary’s sessions with the children who visit the UK every year from the Chernobyl disaster area with the charity Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline.

Have you Travelled Overseas to Share Story Massage?

We’d love to hear from you. Do contact us to share your experiences.

Emotions at the End of the School Year

The end of the school year can bring mixed emotions for many pupils. These feelings are expressed in a positive and affirming Story Massage written by pupils and staff at The Early Focus Project and St James Primary School, Dublin 8. We hope you find it helpful.  Continue reading

Story Massage Day Course – Hinckley, Leicester

We are so delighted to be running our Story Massage training day at The Therapy Station in Hinckley, Leicester on Tuesday 19th March 2019. The course is open to everyone with an interest in sharing positive touch activities and peer massage with children and adults. For all the course dates and venues please visit Training Dates and Venues.  Continue reading

Story Massage Best Practice Winners – June 2018

The amazing work of latest Story Massage Best Practice Winners shows the wonderful adaptability of this popular positive touch activity. It can be enjoyed by all ages – from babies to the elderly – and by all abilities. Many congratulations to our fantastic winners who have all worked with such passion and commitment to share the many benefits of Story Massage with others.

Here is a taster of some of the ways that our Best Practice Winners are using Story Massage in the home, school and community.

  • Aly Townley – with foster children, as part of mindfulness lessons in mainstream schools and with her own mother with dementia.

  • Angela Scott – as part of her work setting up Health and Well-Being Hubs across North East Hastings, as a Relax Kids Coach in mainstream schools (including working with children with Additional Support Needs such as ADHD and Autism), and with her own children at home.

  • Caroline Brown – within her work as Complementary Therapy Lead at a children’s hospice and at a school for children with physical, profound or complex learning difficulties and disabilities. Caroline also works with adults with PMLD in a care home.

  • Mandy Worsley –  as part of the Relax Kids Programme in mainstream schools, with groups of teenagers to help with anger issues and as part of weekly adult relaxation classes.

  • Jayne Burke – to bring fun and connection at networking meetings, conferences and team bonding sessions.

  • Sally Hudson –  within her work as a Massage in Schools Instructor in mainstream schools, as a follow-on to baby massage classes, and as a Young Person’s Support Worker for 3-18 year olds who have Additional Support Needs.

  • Simone Jackson – in her work as a massage therapist at a Special School, working with pupils (and staff) as group sessions and on a one-to-one basis.

  • Sophie Munnery – with her daughter, Maisie, who is severely disabled, and with her youngest daughter, Poppy, and members of the family. Sophie also runs Sensory Storytime Session at her local library.

  • Una Curran – within mindfulness and well-being lessons in mainstream schools, with children with autism and their parents in a regular Little Seeds group, and even with her daughter’s Irish dance group to prepare for competitions.

And here are just a few of the comments from our Best Practice Winners:

“I work with groups of teenagers who present as angry and uncooperative at the first session. As soon as we start doing massage to favourite pop songs, they begin to engage. After six weeks, the change can be amazing and they enjoy giving and receiving positive touch.” Mandy Worsley

“Many children find it hard to discuss angry emotions and Story Massage sessions on a theme offer a way of helping them to express their feelings without becoming anxious or hurting someone else.” Una Curran

“Story Massage can offer comfort and relaxation for my foster children. One lad had been through terrible, sustained trauma. I wrote a bedtime massage story with the theme of safety and security and it was beautiful to see how his whole body and mind relaxed during his stay.” Aly Townley

“My Story Massage, Movement and Song classes encourage parents to continue offering nurturing massage when the baby massage classes come to an end. Repetition of songs and stories combined with positive touch encourages anticipation, development of language skills and connection. ” Sally Hudson

“Many of the children at school have challenging and tactile defensive behaviour. Story Massage helps build trust and improves communication.  My advice is to be flexible. Keep it short and sweet. Even a five minute story or song will be beneficial.” Caroline Brown

” Story Massage is a wonderful way of helping to break down barriers at business events, workshops and team bonding days. I write simple massage stories relevant to the event and love hearing the laughter as everyone enjoys the sense of light relief and connection with each other.” Jayne Burke

“I recently worked with a group of year 6 boys who were preparing for SATS and transition to secondary school. At first they were reluctant to try peer massage so I started with self-massage. They were soon writing their own massage stories to share with the others.  The class teacher and SENCO were so impressed with the impact of the sessions that a 6 week block was extended to 5 months!” Angela Scott

“Story Massage with my profoundly disabled daughter has opened up a whole new world for us and her. Being able to find something that gives us the ability to reassure Maisy in such a positive way, in good times and bad, is such a wonderful thing.” Sophie Munnery

“I love the way that Story Massage offers a fun and gentle way of sharing positive touch to children with PMLD. So often touch is purely functional for these children and it is lovely to watch them having fun and really enjoying themselves.” Simone Jackson