Case study

Play therapist — Tiwone

Although being a play therapist can be emotionally draining, Tiwone loves making a difference to children's lives. Discover more about her work in schools

What led you to train as a play therapist?

Before training to become a play therapist, I had worked with children in a number of settings. I started working in children's nurseries and this led to managing after-school clubs and children's centres where, working alongside a child psychologist, I was introduced to play therapy and its benefits.

Before applying to the MA Play Therapy at the University of Roehampton I decided to diversify my experience in childcare up to age 18. I also did an undergraduate psychology degree to underpin the knowledge I would need to undertake the Masters degree in play therapy.

How did you get your first job?

Before graduating from my Masters degree, I began networking with other professionals in my field, and my course supervisor let me know of a job possibility she'd heard about.

I inquired about the job, finding out what they were looking for, applied and was successful.

What's a typical day like?

I work across several schools during the week. I typically start work at 9am and catch up with teachers to discuss the progress of various children or I can have parent meetings during this time.

School starts at 9.30am, so I set up my room for sessions. Between sessions, I make notes and tidy and prepare the room for the next child. I generally see four children a day, ending at about 3pm. I then have meetings with teachers, the head, deputy head or parents.

What do you enjoy about being a play therapist?

There is so much to enjoy about my job. I love the fact that no two days or sessions are ever the same, that I get to work with children and that I get to be creative and play every day.

However, the best part of the job is seeing the positive therapeutic change that you can help bring about in a child when they start to see and value their own worth, smiling and taking pride in things.

I also enjoy working with the variety of staff and other professionals I liaise with.

What are the challenges?

The emotional drain that you can get at the end of the week, or even at the end of the day, is definitely the most challenging.

Self-care is very important in my role as you give so much of yourself day in, day out.

How relevant is your Masters to your job?

Without my MA in play therapy I wouldn't be able to do this role. I needed the therapeutic training and understanding that I received in order to effectively do my job.

How has your role developed?

I've been able to develop the system to let children self-refer themselves, as well as adults to make referrals. My career ambitions include doing more specialised work, such as working in trauma centres.

What advice can you give to others?

Doing a Masters degree has put me in the best possible position to find work after graduating. It's a real commitment but it's worth it.

Also, make sure to keep in touch with others from your course. Develop those connections and support each other as you go forward.

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