Growing as a Play Therapist
by Lisa Dion, LPC, RPT-S
Whether you’re a play therapist or a teacher, an architect designing multi-million-dollar buildings or a veterinarian working with sea turtles, it’s easy to grow complacent in your career over time.
But, while this comfort can feel like a good thing, complacency comes with a hidden danger: when we think we’ve reached the apex, we stop the climb. In other words, once you think you’ve figured it out, it is easy to stop asking new questions. And this is precisely the moment that danger sets in.
Why? Because play therapy is always evolving with new ideas, novel ways of thinking, and progressive means of practice. Maybe you got comfortable, but the field didn’t. It’s still moving forward. The more we learn, the more questions we have. The quest to put together the puzzle of human behavior continues.
It’s not surprising – therapy involves understanding the mind and the brain. Sure, we know some things about these topics, but we have so much more to learn. Every year we gain further insight into why we do what we do and what happens between two people during an interaction. What we understood ten years ago about human psychology seems so limited compared to what we now understand. The world of brain science and interpersonal neurobiology has opened new and exciting doors for clinicians and play therapists. And even with new information regularly discovered, for everyone – from world renown neurologists and scientists to psychophysicists – things about the brain are still considered elusive in so many ways – it’s just that complicated. To quote the scientist Emerson Pugh, “If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn’t.”
That’s why continuing the climb is a vital part of your practice.
So, how do you do this? How do you lace up your proverbial hiking boots and keep moving forward? It’s simpler than you might think……….
Never stop learning: One of the best ways to grow as a therapist is to learn…forever. Listen to podcasts, read articles, devour books, participate in webinars, watch presentations – do whatever possible to keep your studying sturdy.
Ask questions: Of course, an instrumental part of learning is asking questions. Never second guess yourself when you don’t know something. If something doesn’t make sense, seek the answer. Don’t ever believe that you have fully figured something out or that you have discovered “the answer”- stay perpetually curious.
Embrace new ideas: From the Earth as the center of the universe to the atom being indivisible, history is filled with “set in stone” ideas that needed plenty of altering. Exposing yourself to new ideas not only helps you discover erroneous ones, but it moves you closer to your authentic self. And that’s someone you definitely want to meet!
In the end, growing as a therapist is no different than growing as a person. It simply involves a desire to move forward instead of standing still.
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