Shadowing a DoctorJune 24, 2014
Explore A Career As A Play Therapist – Part One
If you can communicate well with children and are committed to helping them during times of extreme emotional distress, this could be an ideal specialty for you. The most important attribute you need in this job is the ability to gain the trust of children. You would also need knowledge of child development.
For better job prospects, it is always advisable to obtain an approved postgraduate qualification and register with Play Therapy UK or the British Association of Play Therapists. Before you can practice as an Play Therapist, you are also required to pass stringent checks carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service.
Play therapists help children make sense of difficult life experiences or complex psychological issues through the activity of play.
As a play therapist, you would typically work with children aged between 3 and 11 on a one-to-one basis or in some settings such as a classroom setting you would work in groups of up to about six children. Most of your clients would be children who are going through severe distress and emotional pain and experiencing negative emotions such as anger, depression, anxiety or aggression that may be caused by several different factors. Factors that cause these reactions in children could range from trauma, abuse, neglect and bereavement to domestic violence, family breakdown and brain development problems.
Your primary aim as a play therapist is to help children develop confidence, emotional intelligence and insight and become more capable of coping with how they are feeling. Throughout this process, you would work closely with the child’s parents or carers as well as with other professionals such as teachers, nurses and social workers.
Your key duties as a Play Therapist would include:
– Evaluating the child’s needs
– Holding therapy sessions at a regular time and place
– Making use of creative arts such as drawing, music, clay and sand, toys such as dolls, puppets or cars and therapeutic story telling
– Creating an in-depth therapeutic relationship, which promotes positive change in the child by helping them to help themselves
– Developing symbolic communication with children, which involves making a connection between the signs, symbols and actions the child creates through play and how these reflect their experiences
– Attending court to give evidence, for example in a child protection or custody case is also part of your responsibilities
Job Opportunities For Play Therapists
Play Therapists are in huge demand these days across a wide range of settings. As a play therapist you could work within family centres, education, social services departments, child mental health services and independent and voluntary services.
Many jobs within play therapy are offered on a part-time basis, and you may need to work with more than one organisation or work within another profession in order to achieve full-time hours.
Experience and further training will give you the additional qualifications that will allow you to provide consultation services to professionals in the community and to supervise less experienced therapists. You could also move into lecturing, training or providing clinical supervision.