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Play Therapy Center offers specialization track in the field

April 30, 2010

The Loyola University New Orleans Play Therapy Center, housed in the department of counseling, announced this week that it now offers a play therapy specialization, through its Master of Science in Counseling program for students who want to become registered play therapists, in addition to becoming licensed professional counselors.

Play therapy is a form of mental health counseling or psychotherapy by which licensed mental health professionals incorporate the use of play to better communicate with and help clients achieve optimal mental health. Loyola’s Play Therapy Center was designated as an Approved Center of Play Therapy Education and Research by the Association for Play Therapy in July 2009, after generating substantial play therapy research, publications, graduate instruction, supervised clinical experiences and other programs.

The department recently increased its master’s degree program from 54 to 60 hours to comply with new standards set by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. Because of the change, students are able to meet all of the academic requirements needed to become registered play therapists. Students can take courses such as play therapy theories, introduction to play therapy, parent/child relationship therapy and activity group therapy.

Loyola’s center features a play therapy lab with toys, expressive arts supplies, a sand tray and other items. Students use volunteer children in the lab to facilitate therapeutic skill development, and their work is videotaped for use in classes. The center’s library also has a large collection of play therapy videos, books and research journals.

Loyola was one of the first five universities in the United States to receive this certification and has offered courses since 2005 for graduate students in the College of Social Sciences.

Loyola’s Department of Counseling Chair LeAnne Steen, Ph.D., LPC, RPT-S, said interest in the play therapy center has been profound, and she expects the interest to follow into the certification program.

“I look forward to helping these students use their graduate time at Loyola to conduct research in play therapy and help increase the level of awareness in the mental health field and among teachers, parents, pediatricians and others regarding the importance and significance of play therapy as the best possible intervention when working with children,” Steen said.

For more information on the play therapy certification program, contact Steen at 504-864-7855 or LSteen@loyno.edu.

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