College adds rare play therapy certificate program

SUNY Oswego recently added a graduate certificate program in play therapy, one of only two on the East Coast—the other at Johns Hopkins University—and one of fewer than 10 in the nation, said Dr. Jodi Mullen of the counseling and psychological services department, who coordinates the program.

Play therapy, Mullen explained, is a method of communication where troubled children act out their problems, often because they cannot verbalize them.

“This certificate would allow graduates to meet educational requirements to become a credentialed play therapist,” Mullen said. She added that the certificate also represents that students have attained experience and background to work in an in-demand field.

The new program, part of Oswego’s counseling and psychological services department, was approved a few months ago and has already graduated one international student over the summer.

“About 30 percent of the inquiries we get for the program are from international students,” Mullen said, showing a global need for such certification.

“Many people coming into the program are part of one of the CPS degree programs,” she noted. “Some are people who already have their master’s, realizing this type of coursework is something they can’t find elsewhere.”

Others interested in the program are professionals already working in the field who may feel they need additional preparation in this area, she added.

“CPS typically offers a one-day seminar every summer in play therapy,” Mullen said. “That’s hooked some people in. They wanted more.”

The program emphasizes observing and understanding the actions of young children, people resistant to verbal communication or the developmentally delayed.

The curriculum consists of five CPS courses: “Introduction to Play Therapy,” “Advanced Play Therapy,” “Introduction to Expressive Arts Therapy,” “Clinical Consultation in Play Therapy” and “Contemporary Topics in Play Therapy.”

The introductory course has been around for almost 15 years, while the other classes have been added in more recent years while building toward the certificate track.

“As part of the program, we’re also having a sand play therapy and supervision room set up in Mahar Hall,” Mullen said.

Mullen said the department hopes to teach some of the courses in SUNY Oswego’s Syracuse Metro Center location once that is established.

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(Posted: Sep 05, 2007)