By Emily Keller, PhD, LPC, RPT

Southeast Institute for Group and Family Therapy now offers play therapy training. As more of our trainees become interested in integrating transactional analysis and redecision therapy with play therapy, they are wondering, “How do I get started?” Becoming a Registered Play Therapist requires investment in continuing education and often supervision. A play therapy budget needs to cover training expenses, which often include travel itself and time away from a regular practice. After education and training, people seeking to become a play therapist often have a small play therapy budget with which to stock and design a play room. And play rooms require a variety of toys. You can stock your play room or sand tray area on a small play therapy budget. Here are some pointers from my dear friend and colleague Dr. Renee Turner, LPC-S, RPT-S.

Here are some more tips:

  1. Let your friends know! Parents of young children are often wanting to get rid of outgrown and excess toys. Let your friends know you what you are looking for and they just might have it sitting unused in a donation pile.
  2. Shop second-hand stores. My grandmother used to say children’s toys seem to multiply themselves. Families often have so many toys for children that get played with very little before being consigned in second-hand stores. You can find play therapy toys in pristine condition for a fraction of the price.
  3. Think creatively. You might want a full kitchen set, but with a shelf or wooden box can be repurposed into appliances. You may want a full sand tray and shelves of miniatures, but all you really need to get started is a rectangular plastic bin, some sand, and a few diverse figurines.
  4. Think about the basic categories. When you are starting out, make sure you have a few toys from each of the basic play therapy toy categories. Landreth (2013) recommends (a) real-life toys, such as a doll family, cash register, band-aids, toy cars, etc.; (b) toys for acting out and release of aggression, such as a Bobo, rubber knife, and toy soldiers; (c) toys for creative expression and release of emotions, such as water, sand, paints, and blocks.
  5. Search online. Play therapists are, perhaps by nature, very creative people! You can find a lot of ideas for stocking your play room or mobile play therapy kit by searching Pinterest and Google.

When working with children, I ntegrate play therapy with transactional analysis and redecision therapy. I watch in wonder as children use toys to demonstrate script messages and decisions in the play room. For workshops on integrating play therapy with transactional analysis and redecision therapy, visit our continuing education page. I hope you will join me for a fun and rewarding play therapy training event!

Landreth, G. (2013). Play therapy: The art of the relationship (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Good luck getting started on your play therapy journey!


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