April 30, 2017

Confessions are good for the soul.  They help unburden you from guilt and help you think about solutions.  Well, today I will let you in on a few confessions about play therapy from my own perspective.

But first…Professional Best Practice:

Many play therapists use a model of play therapy called child centered play therapy. What that means is that the child leads and the therapist follows.  It is a non-directive style of play that helps children express feelings in a way that helps them gain insight into their behavior.

And we take it really seriously! It’s really a privilege and a pleasure to have this as a real job!

The “Be With” Attitude:

So, one of the tenets of child centered play therapy is to have a “be with attitude.”  That means that during play sessions, your presence conveys the concepts:

I am here, I hear you.  I understand.  I care.

-Garry Landreth

That is the goal for every child in every session.  Essentially, it’s being fully present and fully engaged with the child during the session.  But let me tell you.  It is HARD.

It’s not hard to do all the time. But it is hard to do all day every day for years upon years. Which leads me to-


1. Sometimes I’m happy when you cancel at the last minute.

And it’s not because I don’t like you or don’t want to help you.  It’s usually because I have administrative stuff to do or because I am just tired from my own family and want to go home early. (But seriously, please show up!)

2. Sometimes I get distracted

And it’s not because I don’t care about your child.  When things get repetitive, people can daydream for a second.  Usually, I just admit it to your child and get back in it. Luckily, kids are pretty forgiving.

3. Play Therapy Is Sometimes Boring

No offense to anyone’s kids!  But, you know as well as I do that listening to a 15 minute story about Minecraft or Pokemon Go or Nerf guns or some YouTube sensation that I have never heard of can be challenging. The upside is that I often learn about some cool newthings from your children!

4. I secretly want to take credit for your successes!

Really, your child is doing the work! And so are you! But, when things are going well, I really want to celebrate and take credit for being a rock star therapist.

5. I get depressed when I can’t help you

I want to see everyone succeed and anything less than that really leaves me burnt out and sad.

6.  When your child says “I have nothing to talk about”

It usually means that they are suicidal or about to runaway or in big trouble with their grades.  It rarely means that they have nothing to talk about.

7. There are days when every child does the same thing

Believe it or not, some days every child that comes in wants to have a sword fight. And sometimes, I get tired of sword fighting.  I think kids feel the same way when they are asked to come straight home from school and do more homework.

The beauty of play therapy is that kids use play to show you how they are feeling.  Some kids are just exhausted.  I feel ya!

8.  I can’t stop buying toys and sand tray miniatures

Everywhere I go I am on the look out for new toys, sand tray figures, games, or books.  Vacations, gift shops, garage sales-I am there and I am buying!

I buy way more stuff than I really need because it a “business expense.”

9. Taking insurance can be a pain

Usually, it’s not a problem. But every once and a while, I have those problem claims that are so frustrating!

10.  I really, really love my job! A LOT

Truly, I love my clients and my colleagues and play therapy.   Having a private practice and helping kids and families really makes me happy.

And I hope you love your job as much as I love mine.  And, I also hope that you can laugh at some of the parts that are sometimes a tiny bit annoying.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Registered Play Therapist, subscribe to the blog for tips and tools related to helping children through play.

If you can relate or know someone who can, be sure to share with a friend! Finding humor in the everyday is the key to self-care!

About the Author

Jen Taylor, LCSW-C, RPT-S is an EMDR Approved Consultant and Certified Journal to the Self Instructor.  She is a therapist specializing in complex trauma, an international play therapy teacher and a published writer of multiple play therapy chapters.  Jen is the creator of the original 2017 Play Therapy Summit and many other innovative programs for mental health professionals.  Jen uses writing therapy, play therapy and expressive arts for her clients and for other mental health professionals so they can lead more joyful and meaningful lives.  Jen encourages people to try new things and create daily habits that allow for incremental progress towards previously unimaginable results.   Jen is a travel enthusiast, an avid reader, and a girl who lifts weights and runs for fun.  

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