So you want to train to be a play therapist?
There are a few things you should know, that none of the play therapy training materials will tell you.
Firstly, you will likely develop a life-long penchant for ‘collecting’ miniature items from shops, car boots, friends children’s toy collections, holiday destinations, and anywhere else.
Secondly, you will develop a ninja-level ability to get the phrase “I wonder” into any conversations
Thirdly, you will never be the same again.
The first 2 we can smile about. They will impact your bank balance, your storage space and your conversation skills, but apart from that they are relatively insignificant (actually #2 is very significant, but that’s for another day…)
Therapists are nice people on the whole. They want to help others. They want to make the world a better place. They want to see growth and healing and nice things… Yes?
So training to be a therapist – even a playing one, has got to make you a nicer person…yes?
So how is it that so many people who go through the training to become play therapists end up (albeit often a few years later) splitting up with their partners? Yes this is true. I don’t have official research statistics to prove this to you – just anecdotal numbers from the many courses I have been on or facilitated, and corroborated findings with others.
Real-talk time coming up.
6 observations why play therapy training could be dangerous if you like things just the way they are.
1. One of the key elements about a good training to become a play therapist is being able to maintain boundaries for your client.
You cannot maintain good, strong and healthy boundaries for a child if you cannot do it for yourself first.
Establishing and maintaining boundaries is something to be learnt, and often needs careful consideration and intention. Many people never consider this aspect of their lives.
Many of the excellent play therapy training courses available, help students discover the dysfunctional patterns in their lives, they become aware of their own pain, and how they have developed ‘dances’ with others to get their child-hood, inner pain-based needs met. They learn about the importance of establishing healthy boundaries for protecting the precious.
2. Students discover whether they are still controlling situations, people or whole families to keep the boat from being rocked.
They discover if they are still hiding who they really are from people around them to keep the boat from being rocked.
They discover why they really fear the boat actually being rocked and realise they are now big enough to handle the waves.
3. Trainees discover if their relationships are health-giving or health-sucking.
They discover they have a voice now as a grown-up, which may not have been used as a child.
They discover that being a great therapist for a child means at times advocating for them. You cannot advocate for a child without using your voice, being seen and heard.
4. Journeying students discover how their subconscious speaks to them.
They realize things can change and the lies of being tiny, vulnerable, stuck and powerless they may have believed since childhood, can loose their power and truth can be established in their place.
They discover healing and growth are possible – who they are – their very bodies – become messages of hope to the children they work with.
5. They discover if there is an appropriate level of self care in their lives or not.
They discover that who they are is the most important thing to a child.
They discover that They. Are. Important.
They understand that they can and should be doing more to nurture themselves in every way.
6. They discover that they have power and they learn to use it.
The one who will bring change and growth; enable them to live the truth of who they are, respectfully and with appropriate boundaries; in the lifestyle they need to nurture themselves, is themselves. For this they are responsible.
The relationships they have will grow with them, become consciously changed or need to be released. [See above comments about relationships for evidence of how many relationships don’t seem to want to grow with them].
To be a therapist you have to grow.
Therapists have to be able to be honest about who they are, why they are and what they want to do about that.
To be a therapist you have to grow.
To care for children in ways that keep you and them emotionally safe, means growing, learning, understanding yourself, your stuff, your pain-points, your healing, your boundaries and ability to defend and protect.
To work respectfully at these levels of responsibility, privilege and influence in a hurting child’s life, calls for health and growth and good condition.
Hurting children in adult bodies are not safe practitioners in the therapy room, classroom or anywhere.
To have a job working with children in any role DOES NOT require growth.
To become an excellent, effective, influential and inspirational practitioner with children in any role and any setting requires growth ABSOLUTELY.
To be a healthy, safe, vibrant ambassador and advocate for children does NOT mean you have to be a therapist.
But then you don’t have to train as a play therapist to grow 😉