For professionals looking for play therapy clinical supervision, it can be difficult to know who to choose or where to start.  Just like anything in therapy, the number 1 factor in choosing a clinical supervisor (to me) is goodness of fit.

What I mean by goodness of fit for play therapy supervision comes down to one basic question:

Do you like the person that you are getting supervision from?

While that is certainly not the ONLY criteria, it is a big one.  If you do not like the person that you are getting supervision from, either a) you may grow to like them over time or b) you may end the relationship because it is not a good fit.

Choosing a supervisor can be done in three phases

  1. Pre-Selection Research
  2. Interviews
  3. Decision Making

Play Therapy Supervision: Pre-Selection Research

My number one recommendation for choosing a clinician for play therapy supervision is do some research.

Here are a few guiding questions to answer for potential supervisors that you should be able to find out before you even call:

What are their credentials (psychologist, social worker, professional counselor, etc)?

For clinical supervision it is sometimes required that the supervisor be from your discipline, but for play therapy supervision, it is not required.  Sometimes it is helpful to have a supervisor that can do both your clinical supervision and your play therapy supervision at the same time.

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (originally licensed in Florida, but also licensed in Tennessee and Hawaii).  I am not currently providing licensure supervision to anyone outside of Hawaii. 

Do they have a specific niche or other certifications?

From the “About Me” page of their website, you should be able to see what additional training they have. Beginning in 2020, all play therapy supervision must be done under an RPT-S (Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor).  This should be clearly listed on their website.  However, they may also be trained in areas that interest you (TF-CBT, EMDR, Theraplay, Animal Assisted Therapy, etc).  If there is a specialization that you are interested in, it is helpful to have a supervisor that is knowledgeable in that area.

I am a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor, EMDR trained clinician and TF-CBT certified. 

Where are they located?

You may look for a supervisor that you can visit in person who is in your area.  The Association for Play Therapy allows for distance play therapy supervision, so you have the option of pursuing professionals outside your region.

I currently do distance supervision only through a free video conferencing system called Vsee. 

Play Therapy Supervision: Interview Phase

After you have done some initial research on potential supervisors, then my encouragement is to reach out to them by email or phone and do an “interview” or quick consultation.

Here’s some things to cover in your interview of potential supervisors:

What are the logistics?

Obviously, you need to talk right away about logistics.  When are they available? Do they offer group and individual? What is the schedule and availability? What is the cost? What platforms do they use for scheduling, sharing information, etc? What is their cancellation policy? How do they handle payments?

I currently do group supervision (Play Therapy Masterminds) and individual supervision.  You can schedule a free 15 minute consult here to discuss your needs. 

Describe your theoretical background.

Ask about their theoretical background because this is really going to influence everything that they tell you.  The myth is that there is only ONE type of play therapy.  However, your play therapy supervisor will be able to tell you immediately what their PRIMARY theoretical belief is.

Some choices would include child centered, attachment based, trauma informed, experiential, synergetic, Jungian, Gestalt, or Adlerian (among others).  You may not know at this stage what type of theoretical background you want, but you should at least know where your supervisor is coming from.   It will impact every single piece of information you get from them.

I am primarily child-centered in my approach.

What does a typical supervision session look like?

This includes what they expect you to do in preparation, how often they review your case notes, files, or play session videos and if they require any additional work outside of your meetings. For example, I had a supervisor once that required everyone to complete written assignments outside of our meetings.  Others want to review your case file every meeting.  Some don’t require either.  Just ask.

My group sessions have a “hot seat” format.  Everyone in the group participates.  We start with “What is going well?” then transition to “What problem/case do you want to discuss?” to “What are you planning to try/implement before our next session?”   The Association for Play Therapy requires that your supervisor review actual play sessions – we can do this through VSee in a HIPAA compliant format. 

Play Therapy Supervision: Selection Phase

After you have done initial research and completed interviews of a few different potential supervisors, then make a selection.  Go with your gut!  Again, it goes back to that idea of goodness of fit.

Do you like the person? Do you trust them?

I had a potential EMDR consultant that I really wanted to work with due to her reputation and expertise.  But, the office manager in charge was slow to respond and disorganized and her schedule was jammed pack and very  hard to find a time to meet. After two month of trying to make it work, I decided that it wasn’t a good fit for us at that time.

Remember, that you can always change supervisors.

Final Thoughts:

One of the most common pieces of advice from seasoned professionals is to get good quality supervision.  That doesn’t always mean the most expensive.  It also doesn’t mean that “the best” person for me is the best person for you.  There are so many good professionals out there with different experiences.  What is best for you at the beginning of your career is probably not the best fit when you are ten years in and learning a new specialization.  Just get started.


What do you look for in a supervisor?  Schedule a call to find out if we are a good fit.


Why a white daisy?

Apparently, when people  are asked to draw a flower, the first one that comes to mind for a majority of people is the daisy shape.   This single flower (just the flower part without the stem or any leaves and on a solid black background) was show to study participants after being shown a high-arousal negative image. Examples of high-arousal negative images include awful things like violence, injuries and car crashes.  Two trials were conducted:  in the first subjects were shown a high arousal image and then either a) the flower image b) a mosaic of fragments of the flower image or c) a visual fixation point.  In the second trial, the high arousal image was followed by either a) the flower image, b) a chair (deemed a neutral image) or c) a blue sky with clouds (deemed a positive non-floral image).   Systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings were taken throughout the experiments.  

As expected, mean blood pressure was lower when participants viewed the flower versus the fixation point or the mosaic flower,  but what was unexpected is that the flower image actually reduced mean blood pressure to a level lower than the baseline.  Both the flower image and the blue sky had a similar positive impact in changing mood from negative to positive (with the blue sky having the most overall impact).  However, only the flower (not the sky) caused a reduction in mean blood pressure.  It was determined that viewing a simple flower image could in fact change a negative mood into a more positive one and also decrease blood pressure. 

The power of the single flower image was then studied in regards to salivary cortisol levels.  During this study, the high-arousal images were once again paired with the flower image, the flower fragment mosaic or the fixation point.  Once again, only the flower image was shown to significantly decrease stress during the recovery phase. One final examination looked at fMRI images of the brain during these conditions.  Through this imagery it was discovered that the flower image was effective in decreasing the amygdala-hippocampus activation that occurred after viewing the high arousal images. Researchers speculated that the flower image was a distraction tool that was helped prevent the recall of the stressful images.  

The brief viewing of this single flower image was shown to be effective at reducing negative emotions and created better functioning of both the cardiovascular and endocrine systems! Having such a simple tool available to help reduce stress and regulate unpleasant emotions and is one possible tool for interrupting ruminating thoughts or unpleasant flashbacks.  

About the Author Jen Taylor

Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at

Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at

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