There are many creative ways to earn income in play therapy beyond seeing child clients in the after-school hours. I know you are passionate about play therapy with children. Me too! I also know you cherish your time in the play room helping children and families heal and grow through the power of play as much as I do
But there are only so many hours after school you can provide these services
and still be home in time to see your own family before bedtime.
This can put a cap on how much income you can earn in your play therapy career if you limit yourself only to providing play therapy for school-aged child clients. If you are in a financial situation that affords you to be content with that cap and you feel well satisfied seeing only child clients after-school, then that is a wonderful thing for you to know!
If you are like many of the therapists I have heard from, however, you will be happy to know there are more ways to leverage your passion for play therapy in a way that will serve your community and earn you more income.
Before I get into all the extra creative ways to earn income in play therapy I want to give a respectful nod to the fact that we need to always be professional in the way we get the word out about our play therapy services, products and programs and not commercial. While it is perfectly fine and healthy to be strategic with your business planning action steps, we first and foremost come from the place of wanting to uphold and support the field of play therapy which we so dearly love in a way that reflects our graduate level training and professionalism.
I also want to address the concept of money mindset specifically for therapists before we get into the creative ways for earning money in play therapy.
Many therapists struggle with money and it is typically within the thoughts and beliefs around money.
It’s a good idea to improve your financial literacy and do some personal growth work around your relationship with money. This workshop called Money Matters for Helping Professionals will help you do that. Otherwise start with the classic money mindset text called Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill. You can download it for free at the end of this article by Jaime Masters.
I hear from play therapists whom I mentor every week that they want to find more creative ways to earn income in play therapy and today on the blog I’m going to provide you a host of ideas for ways you can utilize your knowledge and experience in play therapy to make a difference in the world AND generate more income.
Some of these ideas are for those who are further along the play therapy career path. And some of these ideas are for those just starting out. See which of these ideas below are a fit for where you are in your play therapy career.
I started this list as 10 ways but then it grew! So here are 10+ ideas for you!
10+ Creative Ways to Earn Income in Play Therapy
- Bring your play therapy expertise into preschool settings. The morning hours are ideal for working in preschool settings and child development centers after parents have dropped off their children and gone to work. Preschool directors are often grateful to have a play therapist on site to assist with behavioral challenges in the classroom and to provide contracted support services for children who are going through transitional times and difficulties. Sometimes the parents will pay your fee and sometimes the school has funds to pay you. You also can present morning coffee talks with parents for networking purposes and you might provide training for preschool teachers as well. I have a 2 hour training for APT & NBCC approved hours called Play Therapy in Preschools based on my own experience developing very popular and successful services for preschools. This training will provide detailed instruction on how you can utilize your expertise in preschool settings in numerous ways and bolster your income.
- Run groups for home-schooled children. If you can authentically connect and network with the home-schooling community you just might be able to create a way to provide services that will fit into what those families need in a way that allows you to be paid well during hours traditionally schooled children are in school. You might run a social skills group or a group that focuses on anxiety management.
- Conduct parent-child sessions with very young children. If you have training in Theraplay® or other parent-child, attachment based models, you might consider scheduling these sessions during the mornings when your school aged child clients are in school.
- Provide play therapy continuing education. If this appeals to you, keep in mind you can only teach what you already know very well and you need to be sure what you teach is substantive and validated by the research. You will need to be an APT approved provider or presenting in conjunction with someone who is willing to sponsor you. You might consider organizing live, in-person play therapy training workshops in your community. You might start off by teaching a foundational course to attract therapists who are interested in beginning to offer play therapy services. If you have received specialized training and have had extensive experience with a particular play therapy modality on specific topics, you could offer workshops that teach other therapists how to do what you do and learn what you know about specialized play therapy services. Personally, I have found this aspect of my own career to be incredibly rewarding after presenting workshops in person since 2010 as well as my online training format and it’s been a reliable source of income as well.
- Build parenting support groups. When you are knowledgeable and passionate about particular parenting techniques, not only is this an incredibly valuable resource to parents in your community but it’s a way to have another revenue stream. Offer groups for 5-8 parents one or two mornings a week or at lunch time. Set a curriculum or center the group around a book the whole group reads and discusses. You can sometimes make double to three times your individual session rate by running a group. In my career I have run support groups for divorced moms of young children, groups for step mothers, groups on positive parenting and on other topics and it’s been a great way to earn income while providing a valuable service.
- Offer your expertise as a paid writer for a newsletter or blog. Since 2009 I have been paid to write professionally as an early childhood expert for a well known national childcare and preschool company. You might approach pediatrician offices, family chiropractors, pediatric dentists or your local schools and independent child care centers and offer to be a regular columnist or blogger for a fee. Be prepared to show them samples of your work and provide a list of hot topics you can write about that their readers will clamor to see.
- Provide professional consultation or supervision. Clearly you will need to have years of experience and knowledge under your belt as well as appropriate training in supervision to offer this service but when and if you do have that level of experience this can be a wonderful way to increase your income. Therapists needing these services are typically available in the mornings and mid-day so you can set up meetings in person, via phone or video conference. When therapists have a tough case on a topic with which you have a lot experience and knowledge, they will be willing to pay for your guidance and support. After many years of my own experience with challenging cases and extensive training, I now thoroughly enjoy consulting with therapists, helping them get the guidance they need on tough cases every week throughout the USA and I even provide consultation and supervision for therapists in Ireland, UK, Australia, Singapore and Israel. It’s also a very satisfying and reliable source of solid income.
- Offer paid speaking gigs. Many community service organizations hire speakers to speak at their monthly, quarterly or annual meetings. Develop some topics you can speak to that may be of interest to these organizations that relate to your expertise on parenting, family dynamics, childhood development, attachment or the power of play at all ages and charge a fee to go and speak.
- Use play therapy with adult clients of all ages. Play therapy can be used from infancy to the elderly. I created a training with 3 APT & NBCC approved hours of training called Play Therapy Across the Lifespan.which spells out the developmental stages, how play therapy can help people in each stage and what interventions can be appropriate. This will allow you to fill your days with more clients during hours child clients are in school. You also can work with couples using play therapy if you are trained in couples therapy and you want to bring in elements of play based interventions. My training with Drs. John and Julie Gottman and and my training in Adlerian couples counseling has blended beautifully with play therapy in helping couples to reengage and understand one another through expressive and play based activities.
- Teach parenting classes. Many family court systems require divorcing parents to complete parenting classes and who better to teach those classes than you? You also can strike out on your own and offer parenting workshops for fee at churches, synagogues, community centers or out of your own office. I had good fortune earlier in my play therapy career developing a workshop called Parenting with Purpose and Vision that utilized components of several parenting philosophies and provided parents with instruction and practice for purposeful parenting. No reason you couldn’t develop your own workshop! Just be sure it is based solidly on a model that is congruent with your theoretical orientation.
- Create your own play therapy related products. While this is not something I have done myself, I know a few play therapists who have come out with some creative interventions they now sell to other therapists and this can be a great way to get innovative play therapy techniques out into the world while you are able to earn income. Liz Gray, LCSW, RPT created her own therapeutic interventions to go along with the Jenga game and she sells them on a website called Teachers Pay Teachers. Check out Liz’s product here. Carmen Jimenez-Pride, LCSW, RPT-S created a collection of play therapy-enthusiastic t-shirts and other items here. Stacy Jagger created a play-based intervention to help families better communicate using special mats and she sells them on Etsy here.
- Publish a book. Once you have established your expertise on a topic in the field of play therapy you might consider writing a book and getting it published. I’m planning on having my first book for child and family therapists who work with divorced and divorcing families published next year. This can not only be a way to leave a legacy your work in the world of play therapy but it also can be a great source of residual income. You might publish therapeutic stories for children or a handbook of interventions with a particular population. There are so many well known play therapists who have published incredible books! Consider the big names in play therapy. They almost all have published books that undoubtedly generate a wonderful stream of extra income.
As much as we treasure the play therapy sessions we provide for our school-aged child clients, there are only so many afternoon and evening hours and many play therapists have families of their own to which they want to get home before late evening. The good news, as you can see, there many ways to earn income in play therapy so that you can create a career that is fulfilling, is making a difference and the world AND allows for a balanced lifestyle.