Getting started in play therapy? Learn how to set up a budget-friendly playroom.

Becoming a Registered Play Therapist through the Association for Play Therapy requires a financial investment in education. It also requires an investment in supervision through three phases of development (outlined here on page four). A play therapy training budget needs to consider training expenses, which may include travel and the costs of time away from a regular practice. After education and training, people seeking to become play therapists may have a small play therapy budget. They may not know where to start in stocking and designing a playroom. You can stock your playroom or sand tray area to represent a variety of toy categories on a small play therapy budget.

Here are some tips:A picture of a toy cash register in a play therapy playroom.

  1. Let your friends know! Parents of young children are often wanting to get rid of outgrown. Let your friends know what you are looking for and they just might have it sitting unused in a donation pile.
  2. Shop second-hand stores/Yard sales Growing up, I used to browse yard sales with my grandmothers. It was a weekly tradition accompanied by a marked-up newspaper and a thermos of coffee. They used to say children’s toys seem to multiply themselves and couldn’t believe how many toys we’d see. Also, families sometimes have so many toys for children that they get played with very little before being consigned in second-hand stores. You can find budget-friendly play therapy toys in pristine condition for a fraction of the price if you are willing to search.
  3. Think creatively. You might want a full kitchen set, but a shelf or wooden box can be repurposed into appliances. You may want a full sand tray and shelves of miniatures, but all you really need to get started is a rectangular plastic bin, some sand, and a few figurines from the basic play categories.
  4. Think about the basic categories. When you are starting out, make sure you have a few toys from each of the basic play therapy toy categories. Landreth (2013) recommends:
    • real-life toys, such as a doll family, cash register, band-aids, toy cars, etc.
    • toys for acting out and releasing aggression, such as a Bobo, rubber knife, and toy soldiers
    • toys for creative expression and the release of emotions, such as water, sand, paints, and blocks.
  5. Search online. Play therapists are, perhaps by nature, very creative people! You can find a lot of ideas for stocking your playroom or mobile play therapy kit by searching Pinterest and Google.
  6. Less is more. Too much stuff can be overwhelming. It doesn’t take much to get started. Remember, children will play with sticks and boxes. It doesn’t take much to get them engaged in play.
  7. Don’t let perfectionism get in the way. Get started with what you have, you can always add later. Oh, who am I kidding? You most definitely will add more later.

Good luck getting started on your play therapy journey!

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