Southeast Ed. Leadership and Counseling Dept. Becomes Approved Center of Play Therapy Education


The Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling at Southeast Missouri State University recently was recognized as an Approved Center of Play Therapy Education, making it one of just 32 nationally and only three in Missouri to hold this designation.

The certification was awarded, following a process that began last year, by the Association for Play Therapy, a national organization that credentials Registered Play Therapists (RPT).

During Play Therapy, trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties so they can achieve optimal growth and development.

The RPT credential allows mental health professionals to enhance their marketability in the community or within school-based settings and specialize in an evidence-based, trauma-informed modality.

“Many practitioners and students are becoming informed and interested in pursuing this credential,” said Dr. Holly Wagner, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling. “The Approved Center designation that we have just received will set Southeast apart not only at the state level, but also at the national level.

“The fact that we are now an Approved Center will allow Southeast Missouri State University to draw not only local interest, but market to a broader range of students from surrounding states and areas, as well,” she continued. “Our new play therapy center will put Southeast Missouri State University on the map for Play Therapy! Students who may not have previously known that they could receive this kind of education here can now pursue their graduate education with us.”

Dr. Janice Ward is the director of Southeast’s new Play Therapy Center and serves as a professor of counseling. In August, she received her Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor (RPTS) credential, making her one of only three with this credential in the Southeast Region. The credential allowed the department to apply for the Approved Center designation.

Southeast’s new Play Therapy Center is housed in the Counselor Education Training Clinic in Scully Room 318. The center provides counseling and supervision opportunities for graduate students taking the Play Therapy Sequence. Wagner is the play therapy education coordinator and will be responsible for the play therapy sequence at Southeast.

Southeast’s Counseling Program’s Play Therapy Sequence consists of two courses which meet the University level educational requirements to become an RPT. The sequence also meets 135 of the 150 hours of Play Therapy instruction required for RPTs and will become part of the curriculum requirements for the school counseling program at Southeast.

“I am so excited for the collaboration between the Counselor Education Training Clinic and the Southeast Missouri State Play Therapy Center,” said Dr. Kirsten LaMantia, assistant professor and counselor education training clinic coordinator. “This innovative partnership will allow Training Clinic interns the opportunity to work with children from the Southeast Missouri area while fine tuning their play therapy and counseling skills. We are looking forward to this opportunity to better serve area youth.”

Ward added, “Dr. Wagner, Dr. LaMantia, and I are a strong collaborative team who are very excited about this new initiative which will provide our counseling students and counselors in this region and beyond with training and supervision to obtain the RPT credential. The Approved Center for Play Therapy Education would not have been possible without the support of Dr. Rogers-Adkinson, dean of the College of Education, and our department chair Dr. C.P. Gause.”