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Did Your Master's Degree Prepare You to Work With Kids?


Play Therapy

So you have completed your master’s degree in your pursuit of a career in therapy—hooray!

You have decided that you really want to work with kids, but wonder if you are really prepared for this? Did your hard-earned degree really give you what you need to succeed in this area?

Here are three questions to ask yourself before you begin your work with kids:

1. Did you take a child development class?

Believe it or not, kids are not miniature adults. They are different in significant ways.

Up until 18 months of age, all memory is implicit—meaning it is held in our body but outside of conscious awareness. Explicit, or “mental” memory is not consistent and stable until 4 to 6 years of age (Gantt, 2012).

This means that learning and communication are quite different for a child than for an adult. Whereas an adult may be able to communicate his or her thoughts and feelings to another adult, kids engage others through non-verbal and playful communication.

Play, in fact, is how a child is regulated and learns to regulate.

Having gone through a child development class gives you a foundation for understanding the differences between children and adults and how to put those differences into practice.

2. Did you learn and practice how to engage implicit memories?

In order to gain new understanding, children need a new facilitated experience. This is because implicit memory and learning are generally not accessible through words or logic (Gantt, 2012; Kestly, 2014). There needs to be a way for the child to bodily live out new insights in order to create or rewire patterns of thought and behavior. Talk therapy for a child will completely miss the mark.