New Year….new credentialing application! The Association for Play Therapy has been preparing the play therapy community over the past year for new changes on the horizon for those pursuing their Registered Play Therapist (RPT) credential.
As I dove into the new RPT application I was pretty overwhelmed and frustrated with trying to take in all the changes from the previous application process. And as big as a reaction as I was having, my supervisees were doubly overwhelmed and definitely having difficulty making sense of what this meant for their credentials and what steps to take next. For those almost at the end there were worries that some of their hard work would have to be redone and for those at the beginning they were wondering if all the new hoops to jump through would be worth it.
Now that I’ve had the opportunity to take a breath, or a couple like really long breaths, and begin to unravel this new journey to RPT status, it is becoming clear.
Overall the major changes, going into place January of 2020, include the introduction of a three phase system. This is a departure from an application system where there were summation targets for supervision, education, and play therapy experience to earn your RPT. The phase system is meant to help play therapists earn education, session hours, and supervision at an even pace through scaffolding. For example, one could not complete all their client hours and supervision without any continuing education or vice versa. While this makes perfect sense, it has proven to be a bit challenging to put into practice.
Other major changes include all supervision needing to be provided by an RPT-S (Registered Play Therapist Supervisor), completion of all criteria between 2 and 7 years, live virtual continuing education (CE) no longer counting as “in person” CE, the designation of Seminal or Historically Significant Theories for CE, the break down of continuing education areas, and increased requirement for video taped or observed sessions. Whew... that's a lot.
So after taking another breath, I did what I do best when I am overwhelmed – I created a spreadsheet! You can find it HERE. I hope either you or your supervisees will find value in using it as a tracking tool to keep your supervision, play therapy experience, and continuing education all in one place with auto calculated totals to make tracking a breeze. You will also find other resources and links inside to help guide the way to becoming an RPT!
As a supervisor I found I was spending a lot of my time with my supervisees wading through this process and wanted a better way to help them make sense of all the changes, what they needed within each phase, and how to figure out the pacing to get them through to the next phase. It is our job as supervisors to hold space for our supervisees and create calm and structure in the chaos and create hope for attaining their goals. I found I wasn't able to do that well until I fully could understand and see how they would move through the system.
Additionally APT is the best place to go to for specific questions true to your application or your supervisees application. You can find the new application here, new standards here, and frequently asked questions here.
As we head into this new year I am hoping that the overwhelm doesn’t turn those away who are just starting out. There may be challenges to finding continuing education credit that checks all the boxes – but it is doable. The process may look different, and yes – it takes more math. BUT at the end of the process you will be an RPT, which is a designation that sets you apart as a child therapist who is able to serve the children you work with both well and ethically with the therapeutic powers of play.
And if I'm getting real for a moment what I know about Play Therapists is that we are creative, resilient, and flexible. I mean, haven't we all done amazing interventions with a balloon and some string in an in the moment activity OR created an elaborate game with construction paper? We also double down and significantly research how to carry out the BEST storage for our miniatures, what is the optimal sand for our play room, OR how to take a fully stocked play kit to three schools in one day. We are Play Therapists - let’s do this!
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I'm Ann Meehan, an LPCC, RPT-S, and EMDR Consultant. I help other therapists grow in their passions as play therapists, trauma therapists,and child and adolescent therapists.