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Becoming a play therapist
September 30, 2013
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Dr. Jodi Mullen, coordinator of the Mental Health Counseling Graduate Program and  the Graduate Certificate in Play Therapy at SUNY Oswego, recently published a book with her family about communicating with children.

Mullen, who is also the director of Integrative Counseling with offices in Oswego, Cicero and Auburn, specializes in play therapy for children.

“In college, you typically learn counseling skills to work with other adults, but not with children and really you need a different set of skills to work with children.”

Mullen attended SUNY Oswego for her graduate work where she took her first child therapy class. She began using the skills she learned immediately and saw results among her younger clientele.

After entering into the private practice field, Mullen opened her own practice, Integrative Counseling, where she currently specializes in working with children and adolescents.

Mullen teaches many courses at SUNY Oswego including the areas of play therapy, counseling theory, psychology and also holds clinical training courses through her practice.

Mullen's book is filled with kid-friendly activities to help children learn how to make thoughtful choices even when they have mixed emotions.

In spring 2013, Mullen, with the help of her family, published a book called “Naughty No More: A workbook for children who want to make good decisions.”

The book is filled with kid-friendly activities to help children learn how to make thoughtful choices even when they have mixed emotions. Mullen’s expertise comes from her credentials, years of experience in her own practice and from being a mother.

Graduate Certificate in Play Therapy

SUNY Oswego’s play therapy program was the first graduate certificate offered and one of only a handful of play therapy certificate programs in the country.

“If you’re applying even as an elementary school counselor and you have play therapy also, or in a residential care facility that works with children, it enhances your degree,” Mullen said. “Every single person who works at Integrated and sees children, also is a certified play therapist”

Bailey Smith, a graduate student in mental health counseling and the play therapy certificate program, first discovered her passion of working with children her senior year of her undergrad.

“Senior year, I did a program called the Oswego Children’s Project where you learn about play therapy and get a chance to use some of the skills and act like a mentor to children.” I really liked working with kids.”

“If you’re applying even as an elementary school counselor and you have play therapy also, or in a residential care facility that works with children, it enhances your degree,” Mullen said. “Every single person who works at Integrated and sees children, also is a certified play therapist”
Jodi Mullen
coordinator of the Mental Health Counseling Program and graduate certificate program in play therapy

Smith’s undergraduate work was in communications, but after her experience with the Oswego’s Children’s Project, she decided to return to SUNY Oswego for Mental Health Counseling, focusing on play therapy.

“The play therapy certificate sets you up with the skills you need to work as a child’s play therapist,” Smith said. “I’ve learned so much and I’ve learned so much about myself. It hasn’t just been about how to do things, it’s about growing as a person.”

Smith will be finishing up in May 2014 and has already begun working on her National Institute of Relationship Enhancement (NIRE) certification.

“You must submit 26 tapes of you working with clients to a supervisor and go over it with that supervisor to become a child center play therapist.” Smith said. “You need the play therapy background.”

Through the internship, students can fulfill the NIRE requirements and gain their certification.

To find out more about the Play Therapy Graduate Certificate, contact the graduate office at (315) 312-3152.

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