If you are a licensed mental health professional who wants to open a private practice specializing in providing play therapy services, the process of launching and building your business I want to point out some special considerations. Your process is going to have more or at least some different things to think about than that of a therapist opening a general private practice focused only on serving adult clients. Growing a play therapy private practice requires a more specialized process.
There are many aspects of business development that have unique nuances and call for special attention given that the the services you provide are going to be very different than if you were offering talk-therapy services only for adults.
A Play Therapy Private Practice has Unique Needs!
You will primarily be working with child clients.
Though your legal clients will be the parents or guardians of the children you work with, you are working with children and when we provide services for minor children there are a host of things to consider that therapists who only see adults never have to worry with.
- Attention to the ethics can be more complex. As I address in my two hour training called Ethics in Play Therapy: It’s a 3 Ring Circus addresses the fact that there are so many ethical considerations and so much room for ethical dilemma when providing play therapy services, you gotta stay on top of it!
- Play therapy requires equipment and supplies. Unlike talk therapy with adults where all you really need is two chairs and a room, with play therapy you must have toys and supplies ample for children to explore, express and experience through their play. This means room in the budget for your initial furnishing and set up process; but, it also means room in the budget for replenishing art supplies and replacing worn out toys, dried out play dough or broken crayons. In my one hour training called What’s in a Play Room I go over everything you need for a traditional play room but i also cover how you might utilize an office as a play space and a place to see adult clients as well as how to create a mobile play room to take into the community or home visits.
- You need to know how to work with parents. In my years providing play therapy supervision the number one complaint I have heard is the about the challenges in working with parents of child clients who may not be so easy to work with. In play therapy private practice, it’s essential that you have skills for working with parents effectively, Here are some trainings you might be interested in having a look at that all address vital info you may need about all the intricacies of those sometimes dicey dynamics.
- Marketing your play therapy private practice requires a certain pizazz. As you market your practice, you have to keep in mind to whom are you are marketing and what is your audience. With play therapy, we are educating the public about the beauty and benefits of play therapy itself while also engaging with parents, teachers, school counselors, and other potential referral sources in a way that communicates we are good with children and families and good at what we do. Here are some specific tips:
- Be sure your website communicates that you are a warm and capable therapist who has a speciality in working with children and families. Hire a professional web designer such as my own web design guru Michelle Coe.
- Can’t afford to go pro right now? If you DIY your website be sure you have a color scheme and fonts that work to communicate who you are and what you do so your audience will want to sign on for your services and if you need a quick go-to logo I’ve got a growing collection here that i created just because I mentor a lot of therapists on tight budgets.
- Set up some free mini-talks in front of groups of parents or other professionals who might be frequent referral sources and be prepared to give a warm, playful, lively presentation to show case your child and family friendly presence. Be ready to explain with passion the benefits of play therapy and how it works. Hand out cards and invite people to call your office to set up a time to speak about how you can be of service.
Don’t limit yourself to working with child clients in your office!
As you are growing your new play therapy private practice, keep in mind play therapy can be used for ALL ages. In my course called Play Therapy Across the Lifespan I go through Erikson’s stages of human development and present ways you can use play therapy with infants to the elderly.
- Infant mental health and attachment based play therapy is a rapidly growing area of interest and Dr. Janet Courtney, the founder of First Play® Therapy has trainings and reading available on her site about that topic that can help you develop skills you need to work with this special population. Theraplay is an additional source for training to work within an attachment based approach.
- Play therapy in preschools is another way you can work with child clients in creative ways without having to see them after school or evening hours at your office. If you want some training to learn the practical and business side of developing this services along with the play therapy training needed check out this 2 hour workshop that includes sample forms and handouts.
- You can do play therapy specifically with couples, families and teens. While you’ll be using more directive and facilitative techniques, as the great philosophy Plato said, “You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than a year of conversation.” To learn about how to apply play therapy with these particular age groups this training will help get you started.
Growing your play therapy private practice is an exciting and busy process. After helping hundreds of therapists grow their ideal private practices in MasterMind programs, Jen Taylor, LCSW, RPT-S and II came together to create The Play Therapy Practice Building Academy which is an online, self paced training program with tons of videos and learning exercises that teaches you all about the BUSINESS side of developing your ideal practice. Check it out HERE!