I put together some figures for my play therapy room at the huge Lego store at Mall of America. I was attending the 2017 APT conference in Minneapolis, making time to play during my off time... and sporting my Mister Rogers shirt while doing so.
I've been asked a few times both how and why I became a play therapist. My final intership during graduate school was at Vanderbilt Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Hospital and Out-Patient Clinic in Nashville. It cemented my desire to work with children and families, primarily using family therapy as that was the "social worker" role.
I began working with The Guidance Center, a community mental health center, right after graduation. A large part of my position when I first started was to provide counseling to physically and sexually abused children. Right away I began working with very young children (one of my first clients was four years old) and I realised I would need additional training to do so, not just to learn more about treatment for trauma and abuse issues; but also how to work with children so young. Thankfully, Drs. Byron and Carol Norton of Greeley, Colorado presented in Nashville in 1990 on "Reaching Children through Play Therapy". It was a life-changing moment in my professional life that I will never forget. I had found what I needed to do my therapeutic work with children: Play Therapy.
They also introduced me to the Association for Play Therapy (APT), an association I have now been part of for over 27 years. I sought additional training in the field and studied for two summers at one of the premiere play therapy training centers in the world: The Center for Play Therapy at the University of North Texas under the direction of Dr. Garry Landreth- I refer to him as the play therapy version of Mister Rogers! As a result of my intense training I became the first Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor in Tennessee in 1994. Along the way I also helped co-found the Tennessee Association for Play Therapy (TNAPT) in 1993, and have been its president ever since. Our mission has been to network and bring quality play therapy training to Tennessee, understanding that many clinicians cannot travel to distant locations for play therapy training.