What should we look for in a Play Therapist Supervisor? Where does one find a Play Therapy Supervisor? Welcome back Kamini Verma, LCSW, as she takes you on her journey in choosing a Play Therapy Supervisor in this 2 part blog series!
Once I made the decision to become a registered play therapist (RPT), I needed to find a supervisor. Reviewing the requirements on the Association for Play Therapy (APT) website was the first step. I felt I knew the basics of how to identify a good match for myself, until I started looking. I had been through picking a supervisor before, as many of you probably have, when I worked on my clinical license. Until 2020, I could use any LCSW supervisor (or LPC, if that is your license) to obtain my RPT license. Yet, I knew I wanted to utilize a registered play therapist-supervisor (RPT-S.) If I was going to hone in on this skill I wanted to be guided by someone else that had done this work as well!
I Must Do Supervision Again?!?
At first, I had to get over some personal resistance. I enjoy going to trainings and learning new techniques, modalities, and interventions as much as the next person, but having specific requirements and extra time commitments seemed daunting… and a little annoying. I had to think long and hard about how I wanted to develop my skills and myself to make this commitment. The more I thought about it the more I recognized the joy I had when implementing play therapy techniques in my practice. This was what was calling me. Once that lightbulb went off the time and financial commitment did not seem as daunting!
What is Required?
The supervision for my LSCW clinical license had to take place in person, either in a group or individual sessions. I assumed this would be the case for my RPT. I was wrong! With the technology of today I was excited to see that “distance supervision” was an option. Distance supervision meant that I could use secure video chat or phone consultation to count towards my supervision hours.
The time commitment was also an issue. You may have more than one supervisor, according to the rules at the time of this blog, but you must track carefully how many hours you get from each one. (Again, I recommend checking the Association for Play Therapy (APT) website to ensure you are up to date on the requirements.)
What Do I Even Want in A Supervisor?
As I began my search, I looked locally and for those who shared my clinical interests. Initially, I thought the path of least resistance was the best option for me. I was looking for someone close by and with the exact same interests as me. The first person I reached out to was clearly not interested in me as a person who wanted to learn, focusing more on how I could accommodate their needs, modality of supervision and pricing. I wanted to be mentored by someone who saw the value I already had and wanted to join me in expanding my skills with the certification. Secondly, I had to consider my work schedule and budget. Understandably, not many supervisors want to work evenings and weekends, unless that is already their practice schedule! I also realized I was in a bit of a unique situation given the set-up of my workplace; so, I sought someone who had knowledge of initiating play therapy practice where it did not exist, as well as someone who had experience being creative in how they built their playroom. Thirdly, I personally wanted to connect with someone in person as it felt more familiar.
Now that I had my checklist, it was time to start the search!
Find a registry of play therapy supervisors. Per usual, the APT website is the first stop. You could also look at your local university to connect with professors or find a professional organization. Likely, your area has a local chapter of play therapists who have the certification and those who use play in their practices. Go to their website and peruse their directory. This is what I did.
Unfortunately, you may run into a few issues. There may not be a website or it is not up to date. If you run into this problem, stop and take a breath! The site is likely run by a local practitioner, like you, who is trying to balance their professional and personal life. Just start calling who you can find. If they cannot help you, they will likely know who can!
Implementing the Findings
Okay, I admit it. I did not call the supervisors I found listed. I am an introvert. Cold calling scares me. Networking is not my forte. Well, I am lucky! My state’s play therapy chapter conference is held in my town. What better place to connect with other play therapists and play therapy supervisors? While at the conference I visited each chapter’s recruitment table, chatted with my table mates at lunch (while sweating bullets from pushing out of my comfort zone), and looked at the conference registry log to find supervisors. This allowed me to feel out the “vibe” of each supervisor, learn about their practice technique, and explore how they hold supervision.
Developing the Relationship
Joining with another person to mentor you is a special relationship. You should be trusted by your supervisor to move forward on your path of learning. You must trust your supervisor to know what they are talking about as you will be using it as a cornerstone of your practice! Accepting and giving feedback to each other is essential, and often hard to take in. If you do not feel connected to each other neither of you will be open to learning from each other and being challenged. Many supervisors I encountered asked for a phone or in person consultation to explore if the two of us would be a fit. I found this to invaluable to forming the connection and ensuring we could meet each other’s needs.
I had gathered the data, made the connections, and identified my needs. Now, it was time to decide and connect with the supervisor I felt was the best fit for me. Stay tuned for how it all played out in Part Two!
Kamini Verma, LCSW
Ms. Verma is a therapist in Texas that is passionate about assisting children and their families through periods of healing, development and growth. She has 10+ years of experience working with children, adolescents and their families on topics related to healing from trauma and abuse, crisis intervention, creating home stability, adoption, attachment, grief and loss, mindfulness and questions of sexuality. Kamini is a Trust Based Relational Intervention ® Certified Educator. She enjoys crafting, cookie decorating and spending time with loved ones in between pursuing her Registered Play Therapist certification.