The number of children living in poverty since 2000 has increased by four million; the number of homeless children in public schools has risen by 41 percent over two years; and a majority of children in public schools cannot read or do math at grade level in the fourth, eighth, or twelfth grades.
“These statistics—produced by the Children’s Defense Fund in their handbook ‘The State of America’s Children 2011’—show in stark detail that we have entered the decade of lost children,” said Dr. Steven Huberman, dean of the Touro College Graduate School of Social Work. “Children are increasingly at risk in America.”
Professionals who treat at-risk children suffering from trauma, grief, and other disorders can now enroll in new, non-credit courses in “Play Therapy,” at Touro’s Graduate School of Social Work—the only graduate school of social work in New York City to offer such training. The sequence can lead to certification as a Registered Play Therapist (RPT) through the National Association for Play Therapy (APT).
The courses are designed to help at-risk children lead better lives, while at the same time help post-graduate professionals advance in their present careers or acquire skills needed to prepare for new ones.
“Training in play therapy facilitates therapists’ abilities to speak the language of childhood,” said Dr. Melissa J. Earle, director of the School’s Institute for Advanced Professional Development, through which the courses are being offered. “Play therapists use these techniques to help children express what is troubling them when they do not have the skills to communicate through speech. The positive relationships that develop between therapists and children provide corrective emotional experiences needed for healing.”
Touro’s Play Therapy sequence encompasses four classes and 500 hours of supervised field work. Students can enroll in one or all of the courses offered, and those who complete the five-course sequence will receive a certificate of attendance for each course as well as the 150 hours required for certification. Applicants should hold a master’s degree in psychology, social work, education, counseling, or human development.
Another offering from the Institute for Advanced Professional Development designed for social workers and other practitioners is “Introduction to Advanced Clinical Practice Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,”—also known as “CBT.” CBT is a psychotherapeutic approach that aims to treat psychological disorders though brief, direct, and time-limited techniques.
“Increasingly, mental health practitioners are being asked by funding sources that support New York’s public service agencies to show their familiarity with and competency using ‘evidence-based’ practices such as CBT,” said Dr. Earle. She added that evidence-based practices like CBT encompass techniques that have been validated through research and are generally accepted to have demonstrated value.
“CBT is one of the most frequently used evidence-based practices, and completion of Touro’s course will enable practitioners to show in a concrete way their knowledge of this type of therapy,” she said. v