Why Credentialing is Essential to Your Career in Child Counseling
If you have been working with children for any length of time, you have probably realized the value of play therapy. Perhaps you have even taken a workshop or two on the subject.
As you witness the power of play in a child’s life, a question begins to loom over you, “should I become a Registered Play Therapist? Do I really need to pursue credentialing for me to continue in this line of work?”
Here are three reasons why credentialing is essential to your career in child counseling:
1) It Identifies you as someone with specific training on child counseling
The professional world as we know it is continually becoming more specialized—and counseling is no different. People want to see a specialist. Parents want the best for their child’s care. (And they are right to want it)!
Registered Play Therapist (RPT) credentialing identifies you as an expert.
Most of us, myself included, have trouble identifying our self as an expert. Largely, I believe, because we are comparing ourselves to the most accomplished people above us in knowledge and experience. But in truth, it is likely more accurate to consider comparing ourselves to the vast majority of people and their level of knowledge and experience. When comparing myself to the incredibly large majority of people who have no training in play therapy, I am an expert.
More specifically, being an RPT signifies that you are an expert in “kid language.”
Kids are not miniature adults (as I have outlined in [previous post]). As an RPT you know what it is to communicate with children. You understand that children play because it is their language and their method of engaging their world.
Becoming an RPT states that you know how to meet a child in their world and engage them in their language. That is something worth putting on a resume—“I speak English, AND gesture, symbolism, and metaphor!”
2) It affirms your commitment and passion for child counseling
An RPT credential communicates, “this isn’t just something I do, it is my passion.”
People are generally better at things they enjoy doing. I have interviewed over a hundred potential interns during the past several years, and I am frequently asked, “what makes a good intern?” My answer has always started with, “you are going to be working with kids, you gotta really like kids!” This is no small thing.
By becoming credentialed you are communicating to the world, “I am invested in this – I have sought out and committed to more training and education, because I believe in this”
Education of any kind takes time and money, it is a significant investment. A RPT designation helps to signal yourself as committed, because we are aware of the investment required.
3) It connects you to organizations (and people) which teach, advocate, regulate, govern, and advance the best counseling care for children.
Credibility is attained by allowing yourself to be regulated by a larger governing body. The RPT garners credibility, because he or she is regulated. “I am not just doing ‘play therapy’ willy nilly, or because I deem it so, I am adhering to my governing bodies requirements”
Finally, you may have come to realize that therapy is NOT a job to practice in isolation. It requires—no, demands—community, collaboration, and consultation.
A therapist is called upon to use their self as a tool for healing – this often requires sitting in and experiencing another’s pain in order to offer the empathy required to free the person into new understandings and behaviors. Sitting in pain can be exhausting and draining. Being connected to a community who understands your work offers great support.
Likewise, doing play therapy means learning to speak symbolism, gesture, and metaphor, but we all need some help with certain “dialects” or intricacies of communication &/or situation. Becoming an RPT connects you to a community of folks who are passionate and supportive about play therapy!
Both the national and MN association for play therapy are wonderful communities of support and resource – www.a4pt.org & www.playtherapymn.com