Are you considering becoming a play therapist? Are you exploring career choices and wondering if play therapy is for you? Do you want a job that helps children and offers a lot of variety on a day-to-day basis? Do you want a career that serves others?
A play therapist interacts with children who have been abused or have special needs. They use and implement a variety of techniques and activities, such as coloring pictures, playing with dolls, riding horses and more.
If you think you’d like to pursue a career as a play therapist, one of the best things to help you decide, is to consult with a play therapist. You can ask him/her questions about the job, find out some of their challenges and much more. Most play therapists will probably not allow you to observe or job shadow, however they might be willing to meet with you in person, or talk with you over the phone. To find one in your area visit the Association for Play Therapy website here.
Another great idea is to read books about play therapy. Some to consider are The Healing Power of Play: Working With Abused Children by Eliana Gil and Foundations of Play Therapy by Charles E. Scheafer. There are many other helpful books about play therapy available Check your college or local library and search online.
After you’ve officially decided you would like to become a play therapist, consult with your college academic adviser. You will need to earn at least a master’s degree. Most play therapists have bachelor’s degree in psychology or social work. However, you could also earn a bachelor’s degree in child development, sociology, education, biology or other areas. You will need to complete a master’s degree in counseling.
It is imperative that you volunteer while in college. This will help you gain experience and prepare you for your career. One fantastic agency to volunteer with is the Big Brothers / Big Sisters program. Read “Why You Should Volunteer as a Big Brother or Big Sister” for more advice. Some other places to consider are children’s homes and shelters, CASA, and children’s programs in hospitals. You might also be able to find a paid position at places such as Residential Treatment Centers and children’s homes.
Be sure to join the Association for Play Therapists here and plan to attend their annual conference. This can help you with job leads and networking.
A career as a play therapist can be very rewarding yet challenging. It is not a job for everyone and you must enjoy working with children, have a friendly personality, and empathize well with others. Play therapists play important roles in helping abused children through their healing process.
Still trying to decide on a career for you? Take a look at “Job Ideas for People Who Like to Help Others” and “High Demand Jobs that Pay Over $50,000 a Year.” Another article to read is “How to Decide on a College Major.”
Best wishes as you make decisions for your future!