therapist spotlightThis week we are shining the therapist spotlight on Jamie Lynn Langley, LCSW, RPT, a seasoned play therapist with over 30 years working with child clients. She worked for an agency for 27 years where she became very well known in the area for her clinical services and her supervisory role for interns. In 2015 launched her own private practice in Smyrna, Tennessee outside of Nashville.  “I always knew I wanted to work with children, but began with a goal to be a pediatrician.  I changed while in college and began considering child psychology which led me to social work and being a child and family therapist.”  
 
 

Finding Your Calling

Jamie discovered Drs. Byron and Carol Norton traveling the country in 1990 and 1991 presenting Reaching Children Through Play Therapy and signed up for the 2 day training.  Jamie told me, “That two-day training changed everything for me and I knew play therapy was my calling,”.  She next traveled to the University of North Texas for their summer trainings and had the opportunity to train under Dr. Garry Landreth and Marie-Jose Dhaese as well as Linda Homeyer, Sue Bratton and Terry Kottman who were working on their respective doctorates at the time.  Jamie would eventually be the first therapist in Tennessee to earn the RPT-S credential with the Association for Play Therapy.

I asked Jamie what she loves most about using play therapy with children. She replied: “I love that I get to be on their level using play and toys to communicate, to explore issues, to build relationships and to heal hurts and traumas.  There is no other therapy that I can imagine doing with children as effectively as play therapy.  I love that play therapy can be adapted as needed, and that I can use all kinds of therapeutic play activities and games.  I can also incorporate my love and appreciation of nature both into our sessions and where we can go outside to experience as well.  There are so may healing aspects of play and nature individually and put them together. When I combine nature and play it’s a powerful connection,”.

What is Next For Jamie?

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jamie on a very special upcoming play therapy training project so I asked her to share about that and other exciting projects she has coming up. Jamie shared, “I  have been invited to be part of an international play therapy study group in England this summer, where I will be presenting a play therapy training presentation to some true legends in our field – which is very intimidating to even think about!  But it is truly like a dream come true!  And then in November I get to work with Drs. Janet Courtney and Roz Heiko as well as Rose LaPiere and Lynn Louise Wonders where we will together offer a play therapy and nature training in a retreat setting in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia!  I really have to pinch myself regarding all of these incredible opportunities!”

Jamie is an adjunct professor at two local universities and she has recently begun writing about play therapy. “I did my first article for the APT magazine Play Therapy last year and just completed a book chapter for Dr Schaefer’s third edition of Game Play.  I learned so much in that process!  I am currently working on another piece for the APT magazine and also an article for Playground, the play therapy magazine for the Canadian Association for Play Therapy.  I have been asked to write another chapter for a book, and also hope to soon begin writing my own book!”    

Challenges of a Private Practice

I asked Jamie what has been the greatest challenge in developing her private practice. She replied, “I was thankfully able to bring over all of my clients from the agency where I worked, so I have been blessed to have a full schedule from the beginning.  My time working in this area means I have lots of referral sources, so really my biggest challenge has been to learn how many clients is too many and too much.  I think this was especially true as I did not necessarily have a closing time in the sense that I did not work for an agency, and I found myself working too long and too late.  It has made me realize that I needed to be better at setting those limits and have been getting better at this as I now have so many additional opportunities within play therapy.” (If this sounds like you, have a look at my article with tips for time management)

When I asked Jamie what has been the greatest joy and benefit of having gone into private practice she told me, “I have to readily admit the greatest joy and benefit to having my own private practice has been freedom.  I have the freedom to decide when I work, and what I do with my time.  I was able to have the freedom to say yes to so many of the opportunities I described earlier- from teaching and presenting to writing and supervising.  I have essentially been free to blossom.”

Just A Little Advice

I couldn’t resist asking Jamie what advice she would give to someone just starting out in play therapy and wanting to build a private practice. After all, she has had a lot of experience to draw from! She shared the following:

 

“I feel everyone who goes into private practice should first work for an agency.  I know that not everyone does this, but there is truly no better way to become familiar with all types of populations, concerns and areas.  In the agency setting you can cultivate your specialty and learn what you are truly good at.  Even though I knew I wanted to work with children, it is by working with some adults in my agency that I really realized just how much I needed to work with children.  You can develop your play therapy skills as you work towards your credential and become more experienced and “known”.  While doing so you are building your referrals, so that when you do enter private practice, you have people who know your work and will refer to you.

My second piece of advice is to connect with other therapists.  I am a social person by nature, and an advantage of working with an agency is there was always colleagues close by.  In private practice, that is not always the case.  Even though I am part of a practice with several other therapists, we all stay so busy we rarely see each other.  So I am involved with four peer consult groups, each which meets monthly, and this has been so important!  The most recent being one with several others who are also RPT-S’s- and it has been wonderful to be with others who do such similar work.

My final recommendation would be to recommend to not wait 27 years to go into private practice!   While I was with an agency with many great years and worked with many great people, looking back I now know I stayed too long.  However, my private practice timing worked out well with my children being grown, so maybe that is what was supposed to happen.  My younger son gets married later this summer, so I definitely look forward to having continuing opportunities to help me as a transition to a completely empty nest.  Who knows what I will be up to next!”

You can get in touch or read more about Jamie Lynn Langley at www.JamieLynnLangley.com