When Passion Shows Up

I’ll never forget the first time I saw play therapy. When my late supervisor allowed me to observe my first play therapy session I fell in love at first sight. It felt right. It felt natural to me and I loved how it worked with where the child was in their development.

 

That session was a pivotal moment for me. It started a passion that motivated me to pursue my career and specialty as a play therapist and play therapist supervisor. I had so much to learn, but it didn’t stop me from moving towards my goals.

 

I had no idea what kind of challenges lay ahead, including difficult work environments, heavy caseloads, and the level of trauma and complex issues that my young clients face with courage.

 

I have non-therapist friends ask me “how do you work with …(place favorite issues here). What I tell people (and myself when I’m faced with challenges of my job) is that yes, but I get to see a child heal from a trauma, connect with their parent, make new friends, learn how to stop being afraid and live a full life. I get to watch people heal and increase their faith in their God and themselves. I get to spend my day alongside young ones who deal with so much they should be too young for.

 

At the end of the day it’s encouraging work. It’s worth it. Some cases are sad. True. I have to constantly balance my work life, and personal life, true. I have to keep my emotions in check sometimes and my support systems close. But at the end of the day, it’s worth it.

 

What’s your passion? What fuels you? Leave a Comment Below about how you found your passion.

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5 Things Everyone Ought to Know about Surviving as a Play Therapist

The life of a play therapist can be pretty hectic sometimes, especially if you throw in a family, social life, and managing your own problems. These are 5 things that I do that help me to be a better play therapist.

Create a Set Work Schedule

 

I wake up and each day my schedule is different. I work many after school hours, mainly afternoons and evenings. I set regular hours that I schedule clients to help stay organized and balance between work and family life.

 

Have Go-to Creative Activities for My Clients

 

Before my clients arrive, I review notes, and plan the session. However, children can often be unpredictable. I remain flexible about what a child needs that day, so I have go-to activities always prepared to meet their changing needs. I use www.angriesout.com, www.creativecounseling101.com, www.lianalowenstein.com, www.pinterest.com for ideas.

 

Create a Trusting Relationship with Caregivers

 

If it’s my first session with a family, I meet with caregivers to identify the main reasons for seeking therapy. I involve parents weekly in sessions to discuss behavior issues, family stressors, child’s progress in therapy, and how to implement changes at home.

 

Consult with Other Counselors

 

Sometimes I have been working with a client for a long time, or a child has a particularly complex case. If I am stuck on a case, I seek out another therapist’s perspective to learn new ideas for a case. I have relationships with colleagues and mentors that I trust when I seek out another opinion.

 

Practice Self Care

 

I hear troubling stories, from sexual abuse, to neglect, to loss of a loved one. It can sometimes feel exhausting. In order to prevent burnout I participate in activities to relieve stress. I find journaling, being social, reading a novel, watching movies with my husband, going to church on a regular basis, and also writing to help.

 

I love that I witness children heal everyday, and families change. I use these techniques to remain balanced, focused, and keep the child’s needs first.

 

How do you survive as a play therapist or in your chosen career? Leave a comment below.

Ten Questions to Ask When Looking for a Therapist

question markSometimes when you are entering therapy for the first time at an agency or private practice it’s hard to know if you are making the right choice for your child. Think about it, when looking for a therapist, many people look up their insurance provider list, find a few names, ask a friend, pastor or teacher, and maybe look them up on the web. The following are ten things parents should ask when finding a therapist for their child.

1. What is your background in (_child’s problem__)

2. What are your fees, and do you take my insurance.

3. How long have you been practicing

4. How much will I as a caregiver be involved in my child’s therapy

5. What methods do you use (i.e. play therapy, theoretical background)

6. Can I get information about (play therapy, sandtray,) or Can you explain it to me?

7. How will I know if therapy is the right choice for my child?

8. How much will I as a parent be involve?

9. How long will therapy last?

10. What do you do if for some reason my child needs to see someone else?

Case Notes and Divorce: A Parent’s Rights

Case Notes and Divorce: A Parent’s Rights

I find that therapist who work with children often work with divorced or divorcing parents. I thought I would share this article from my liability insurance company that I think will be helpful.

Dolls help Women in Kenya Support their Families

I want to introduce you to Garry and Brenda Kean. Garry and Brenda Kean are missionaries in Nairobi, Kenya. You can see more of their story and ministry here. A part of there mission there is through their sewing ministry, Jacaranda Creations, helping women earn a living. Often these women would otherwise turn to prostitution or homemade beer making. Instead these women sew beautiful creations such as dolls, animal toys, bags, and purses.

They recently launched a children’s sponsorship program. For $35.00 per month a family or individual can sponsor a child from the slums to go to school. The sponsorship amount includes funds that will allow us to purchase a uniform and shoes for the child, school supplies, school fees and one meal per day. We follow up with the children in the program as well., Jacaranda Kids in this area as well.

I have posted several pictures where you can see the beautiful mother carrying her baby, and if you look closely you can see the baby peeking out from behind her mother. What a beautiful way to show the bond between a mother and child. I wanted to purchase these beautiful dolls they make which is a mother carrying a baby. I can feel confident that not only do I have a great, nurturing toy for my play room, I am also helping other women and children have better lives. Please take a look at their website and check out the Kean’s full ministry in Kenya. If you are interested in ordering their beautiful dolls please email me and I will send you Brenda Kean’s contact information. They do not have a website where you can order online. These dolls are handmade and are shipped from Kenya. To email me, you can find my address under the Referral Info tab of my blog, or if you click on my profile there is an “email me” button.

Favorite Therapeutic Activities for Children, Adolescents and Families: Practitioners Share their Most Effective Interventions

 

lowenstein_2006I am always looking for free or low cost resources, as I am a therapist on a budget (and I am sure there are many of you out there like me!). With so much info on the web it’s hard to narrow down what’s good, what’s not, and how I can find the resources I need for my clients without spending a fortune. That’s why I am soooo glad that I was sent this free copy of Favorite Therapeutic Activities for Children, Adolescents and Families: Practitioners Share their Most Effective Interventions, Edited By Liana Lowenstein, MSW, RSW, CPT-S.

This ebook is a compilation of over 100 pages of techniques submitted by multiple therapists. It is divided in to different sections: 1. Engagement and Assessment Interventions, 2. Treatment Interventions, and 3. Termination Interventions. Each intervention lists goals of the intervention, materials, advanced preparation, and detailed instructions. As I read through some of the descriptions, I found them easy to follow and detailed enough that I felt that I could easily follow the intervention. The list of contributors includes 35 different therapists, many of which are authors/presenters themselves. The best part is, that the interventions come from various treatment models, including family, sandtray, and more directive, and also integrative models. I love this, as I pull from various theories myself, and therapists from different backgrounds will all be able to glean from this book due to the wide range of ideas. I recommend this book to any child/adolescent/family therapist looking for creative ideas for their clients, as it is FREE!!! and FULL of creative interventions. What do you have to lose? I will be using this resource for a long time, and can’t wait to try some of the ideas with my clients.

 

Liana Lowenstein is a presenter and also author of multiple books including:

1. Paper Dolls & Paper Airplanes: Therapeutic Exercises for Sexually Traumatized Children (with Crisci & Lay)

2. Creative Interventions for Troubled Children & Youth

3. Creative Interventions for Children of Divorce.

4. Creative Interventions for Bereaved Children.

5. NEWEST PUBLICATION: Creative Family Therapy Techniques: Play, Art, and Expressive Activities to Engage Children in Family Sessions

 

She has edited: Volumes One and Two of Assessment and Treatment Activities for Children, Adolescents, and Families: Practitioners Share Their Most Effective Techniques, and will be launching Volume Three this year.

 

To sign up for the free ebook, visit Liana Lowenstein’s website and sign up for her free monthly newsletter. You can also view her upcoming workshops.

Play Therapy Works!

I stumbled across this video describing the value of play therapy for children who experience emotional and behavioral issues. Check it out, and also check out the Association for Play Therapy website for more info on play therapy and to find a play therapist

Financial Success in Mental Health Practice

 

Recently, I interviewed Dr. Steven Walfish, the co-author with Dr. Jeffrey E. Barnett of “Financial Success in Mental Health Practice: Essential Tools and Strategies for Practitioners” about his book and also surviving as a private mental health practitioner. I think that most mental health practitioners who are in private practice or are planning to be in the future will benefit from this book.

What inspired you and Dr. Barnett to write this book?

I was a frequent responder on list serves regarding the business of practice. An Acquisitions Editor at APA Books asked if I would be interested in writing a book about the financial aspects of running a practice, as there were no such reso

urces out there at the time.

 

What is your background in private practice?

I went into part-time practice in Tampa, Florida upon receiving my PhD in Clinical/Community Psychology in 1981. After I completed a Research Fellowship I then took the plunge into full-time practice. I remained in practice in Tampa until 1992 when we moved to Seattle. I was in full-time practice in Edmonds and Everett, Washington for ten years. We then moved to Atlanta. I was a visiting professor first at Kennesaw State University, full-time as I started my practice, and then two years later was a half-time Visiting professor at Georgia State University as my practice continued to grow. In 2006 I stopped teaching and concentrated solely on my practice.

Are you working on any other writing projects?

Jeff Barnett and I just completed another book for APA Books that will be published

this summer titled, Billing and Collecting for Your Mental Health Practice: Effective Strategies and Ethical Practice. It is a continuation of our emphasis on our first book in that mental health professionals receive little, if any, training/guidance on the business aspects of a private practice. The book focuses on how to bill and collect and to avoid ethical or illegal behaviors in the process. Lisa Grossman, a Psychologist in Chicago, have just signed a contract for Springer Books titled, “Translating Research into Practice: Researcher and Clinician Perspectives. Academics/researchers will present the evidence-based research on a large number of clinical problem areas and then clinicians will comment on what it is like to try and implement evidence-based practices within clinical practice.

When you’re not writing what else do you do?

My wife is an artist so we go to openings. We also enjoy dining out in the wide variety of restaurants that Atlanta has to offer. I also enjoy watching our local sports teams.

What are other books that you have written?

In 2001 Allen Hess and I co-edited, Succeeding in Graduate School: The Career Guide for Psychology Students. It looks at the application process to grad school, then how to make it through (both academically and politically) through the rigors of program, and then looks at career options. In May of 2010 APA Books published a book that I edited titled, Earning a Living Outside of Managed care: 50 Ways to Expand Your Practice Many people want a practice that falls outside the purview of managed care. Very few know how to accomplish this in their practice. The book presents vignettes of people who are doing this and they discuss their interest in the area and if the reader is interested how to learn more about incorporating the practice activity into their practice.

What are some of the top pitfalls that private practitioners find themselves in?

I think the main one is not viewing our practices as a ‘small business” and that we are ‘small business owners.”Another key one is ignoring our entire skill set (assessment, psychotherapy, consultation, writing, research) in helping us to make a living in independent practice. I believe too often people say, “I only do this or I only do that.’ It limits our options to deliver good services or to develop products.

What tips do you have on thriving in mental health private practice?

 

Jeff Barnett and I have 20 Principles of Private Practice Success that we present in our book.

Here are the top 5:

1. You Need To Resolve the Conflict Between Altruism and Being a Business Owner

 

2. It Is Essential That Mental Health Professionals Have Ready Access To Competent Professionals To Answer Questions Outside of Their Areas of Expertise. To Ignore This Places the Clinician at Ethical, Legal and Financial Risk

 

3. Private Practitioners Need To Become Comfortable With Negotiating From a Position Of Strength. If You Are Desperate For The Job or Income You Will Negotiate From a Position of Weakness. Strength is Found in the Ability to Say No Thank You and Walk Away.

 

4. Participation In A Managed Care Plan Is Not A Requirement For Being In Private Practice. If You Choose To Participate Clearly Understand, and Emotionally Accept, All Of The Financial and Clinical Ramifications and Limitations Beforehand. If You Do Not Do So You Will Be Setting Yourself Up For A Great Deal Of Frustration During Your Participation.

 

5. There Are Only So Many Hours In The Week That A Private Practitioner Can Earn Income. Therefore It Is Financially Advantageous To Develop Revenue Steams of Passive Income.

How should a therapist prepare themselves for opening a private practice?

First and foremost of course is to buy our book (tee hee!).Actually there are many good books out there on developing a private practice (Chris Stout, Lorina Kase, Holly Hunt, Lyn Grodzki). I would find appropriate mentors who can teach you about the ins and outs and pros and cons of private practice and perhaps they will take you under their wing.Also be prepared to pay for consultation and program development advice. Mental health professionals tend to “be cheap” and not want to pay for services that will bring them more money (or preserve the money they have) in the long run. There are also professional organizations one can join. For psychologists there is APA Division 42, Psychologists in Independent practice.

Who will benefit from your book?

Anyone considering going into practice. The review of the books have lauded how realistic and practical we try to be. In the Preface Jeff and I point out how many mistakes we have made in a combined 50 years of practice. We want others to avoid making these same mistakes.

Many of my readers work with children, what are some additional considerations when working with children in private practice?

Working with children requires flexibility in hours, especially if it is a long-term case. Parents do not like to take their kids out of school on a weekly basis. So hours may need to be offered after school, early evening, or on Saturdays to optimize filling psychotherapy slots. You also need a waiting room that is “kid-friendly” and office staff that can tolerate children with behavior problems. Working with children also requires working with the adults that control their lives (e.g., parents, teachers, school administrators). So skills in working with adults that can be difficult are an essential part of the job description.

What is one of the most rewarding things about working in private practice?

For me it is in having been able to create my own successful small business. I also get to choose my hours, client populations that I work with, and that I have no boss listening to one of my ideas and saying, “No!”

What is one of the most difficult things about private practice?

The uncertainty of the continued success of my practice. One fact about private practice is that it is always changing and evolving. Some of these changes are within my control and some are not. This is the reality of free enterprise in out culture.

How/when did you decide to start writing?

I have always written professionally, though most has been for formal journal articles. Moving into books was a natural progression for me.

Where can “Financial Success in Mental Health Practice” be purchased?

Through the American Psychological Association, Amazon.com and likely other book outlets.