What to Know About Finding a Play Therapist

It is hard as a caregiver to observe your child struggling with challenging behaviors, overwhelming emotions, or respond to experiences that feel too big for them to handle. Maybe you feel so isolated, worried, or concerned about what others might think that you have sat in silence wondering what your child is experiencing is typical and something they will just outgrow. It takes tremendous courage to take the steps towards seeking professional help for challenges your child and family are experiencing. Here at Play Therapy i.n.c. we know this is a tough decision to make. Many families and caregivers debate it for months, if not years. Once you are ready to make the call to a professional what to look for, what to ask, and finding the right fit can be an added challenge. First, finding the right fit for you and your child is more important than the educational background, professional experience, or letters after a person’s name. Taking time to interview several therapists over the phone or in person so that you can get a felt sense of who the therapist is, what it is like to have a conversation with them, and maybe even what if feels like be in their office is instrumental in finding the therapist that will help guide you and your child towards meeting the goals you have for engaging in services. This can take an investment in time but is worth it in the long run. As you are looking at websites, professional profiles, and therapist directories here are a few things to consider:
  • Mental Health Credentials
  • Finding a Registered Play Therapist (RPT, RPT-S)
  • Looking at the different Play Therapy Modalities
We have also provided some questions at the end of this blog for you to ask a potential therapist once you’re ready to make that first call. Now, let’s break down the above considerations.

Mental Health Credentials:

Therapists have diverse educational backgrounds and professional experiences that ultimately inform the type of license that they obtain to practice as a mental health professional. There are Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW), Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT), Psychologists (PsyD) or (ABPP), and Psychiatrists (MD). It is important to look for a therapist that is licensed or working under the supervision of a licensed professional. You can look to see if they are licensed and in good standing with the Department of Regularity Agencies or DORA in your state. This helps protect you as the client and ensures that the therapist is following the standards of practice. For more information about the various mental health credentials or to verify a license of a provider in Colorado you can visit: https://apps.colorado.gov/dora/licensing/Default.aspx

Finding a Registered Play Therapist (RPT, RPT-S):

A professional who has their RPT is a licensed mental health professional. This provider has a master’s or higher mental health degree with demonstrated coursework in child development, theories of personality, principles of psychotherapy, child & adolescent psychopathology, and ethics. They must demonstrate that they have had an additional 150 hours of coursework or professional development specific to play therapy including: play therapy history, theories, techniques or methods, and applications. They have 500 hours of direct work with children and simultaneously 50 hours of supervision specifically around the utilization of play therapy as the primary modality of intervention to create change when working with children and families. There are many professionals who advertise that they use play therapy or work with children, but may not be a Registered Play Therapist-RPT. This doesn’t mean that they are not skilled at working with children, it often means they use play to help build rapport with children rather than using it as the intervention to create change. If you are looking into working with a therapist that does not yet have their RPT and states they use Play Therapy we encourage you to verify if they have some training and time working with children in their biography. To learn more about Play Therapy or search for a RPT, RPT-S in your area: www.a4pt.org http://www.a4pt.org/page/TherapistDirectory

Play Therapy modalities:

Here at Play Therapy i.n.c Integrate, Nurture, Connect, we are Certified in Synergetic Play Therapy. Synergetic Play TherapyTM utilizes solid foundations in play therapy theory and methodology, the latest information and research available focused on brain development, attachment theory, and interpersonal neurobiology to help children reach a state of regulation utilizing the natural language of children: Play. Other common play therapy modalities are Experiential Play Therapy, Filial Play Therapy, Theraplay, Sand Play, and Cognitive Behavioral Play Therapy. Each take a different approach to healing and resolving challenging behaviors. You can learn more about Synergetic Play by Therapy by visiting: http://synergeticplaytherapy.com/

Questions to ask:

When you are ready to make that first phone call to a potential therapist here are some questions to ask:
  • What type of Play Therapy do you use?
  • How does play therapy work?
  • Is this a child directed or therapist directed approach?
  • How will I as the parent/caregiver be involved?
  • What are your areas of specialization?
  • What is your experience working with (specific challenge for your child)?
Spend some time giving information about your unique challenges, desire for change, and ask if this is a good fit for their model. Follow your intuition in finding a fit that feels right for you and your family. At Play Therapy i.n.c. we specializes in helping children who are struggling with anxiety, trauma, neurodevelopmental challenges, and changes in their family system. If you are feeling lost and struggling with these worries, we’re confident that we have the experience to help you rediscover what brings balance to your life. Through therapy, there is always a way to address the issues you’re facing and learn strategies to help you and your child both right now and in the future. Read more about our services and therapists: www.playtherapyinc.com “Play is the highest form of research.” Albert Einstein