Should clinicians identify themselves professionally as “Play Therapists?” I would say “no” unless it is the clinician’s intention to limit their practice to that single intervention and the clinician is prepared to refer clients not appropriate for play therapy to someone else. Of course, I’m making an assumption that other forms of intervention may be more appropriate for addressing and treating some issues and diagnoses. Unfortunately, our profession still has clinicians trying to fit a “square peg in a round hole.”
There are three reasons why I think we should not identify ourselves professionally as play therapists:
1) When we seek licensure it is not as a “Play Therapist.” Rather, we are licensed as Psychologists, Social Workers, or Licensed Professional Counselors. Our licensure has status and meaning to fellow clinicians and referral sources that the title “Play Therapist” will never convey. When we identify ourselves as Play Therapists we suggest that is all we do. Hopefully, that s not true for most clinicians!
2) From a pragmatic point of view, I believe we obtain more and better quality referrals, by being identified by our licensure title. It allows us to become known as clinicians who have a variety of intervention strategies to treat our clients. Play therapy should be one technique or intervention that we can intelligently apply to the treatment of an individual.
3) Effective treatment planning and communication of an appropriate treatment plan is not facilitated by an identifying ourselves as Play Therapists. Play therapy is a generic term and there are many ways of doing play therapy. Back in the stone age of managed care therapists in our town were routinely dismayed when a case manager denied more sessions for play therapy. “Play therapy” was a red flag for case managers. Along the same lines, clinicians who tried to sign up on panels as “Play Therapists” were frequently denied membership on panels or didn’t receive referrals from insurance company case managers. Unfortunately, writing treatment plans that are accepted by case managers continues to be an underappreciated talent in graduate school and training programs. The Practice Planners series has rescued us from one of the most tedious and painful aspects of practice.
I’d be curious to know how others identify themselves professionally if they have found any benefit in identifying themselves as Play Therapists.