Career outlook for play therapist
UK Salary Ranges
Currently employed in Scotland
What's it like?
You would help children to make sense of difficult experiences and deal with psychological and emotional distress through play.
Play is a child's natural way of communicating. With a play therapist they can explore various issues they might find difficult to express in other ways.
You’d need to have the ability to gain children’s trust and empathise with them. You would need to be resilient; you could be working with children experiencing severe emotional pain and distress.
They may have depression, aggression or anxiety as a result of:
- Domestic violence
- Family breakdown
- Brain development problems
You would usually work with children aged between three and 11 years old. You’d see them on a one-to-one basis or in groups of up to six children.
You’d help children become better at coping with how they are feeling. They’d learn through play to understand their emotions, and gain emotional intelligence and confidence.
- Assess the child's needs
- Run therapy sessions at a regular time and place
- Use toys, like puppets, cars and dolls
- Use creative arts, including drawing, clay, sand, movement, music and therapeutic story telling
- Develop symbolic communication with children, making a connection between the signs, symbols and actions they create in play and how these reflect their experiences
- Nurture an in-depth therapeutic relationship, which promotes positive change in the child by helping them to help themselves
Throughout this process, you would work closely with the child's parents or carers and other professionals such as teachers, social workers and nurses.
Occasionally, you may need to attend court to give evidence, for example in a child protection or custody case.
You’d need a good understanding of child development and a respect for confidentiality.
UK employment status
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- Verbal communication
- Social conscience
- Developing a plan
- Taking initiative
- Taking responsibility
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