We are looking to hear about the amazing work that Play Therapists in Iowa are doing!!!!! Do you know someone that has inspired you or others to be a better play therapist? Do you know someone that has worked to advance Play Therapy in their community? We want to recognize them for their work!!! The recipients will be presented with these awards at our annual conference in September.

2018 Award Winners

Rookie of the Year – Alexandra Skinner Walsh, T-LMHC

I would like to nominate Alexandra Skinner Walsh, T-LMHC (therapist Life Connections Davenport) for the Rookie of the year award. She has been practicing for 2 years and is working on her RPT certification and is a member of IAPT. She enjoys play therapy and working with children. As her supervisor, I can attest to her knowledge and skills. She is eager to learn new techniques and approaches to assist her clients and families. She volunteers for Safe Schools in the Quad Cities, helping promote safety and acceptance for LGBTQ+ youth in school and community environments. Her practice is ethical and professional.

Play Therapist of the Year – Amber Bennett

Amber Bennett is a LMHC and RPT and currently works at Covenant Family Solutions. She received training from Dr. Terry Kottman, and even received a letter of recommendation from her pertaining to Amber’s talent and magical way she is able to work with children using play therapy. Amber received her Master of Science in Clinical Counseling Psychology from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in North Chicago and her Bachelor of Arts in Biology, Minor in Psychology from Wartburg College. She promotes positive change through a variety of therapeutic approaches including: play therapy, Autplay, CBT, Trauma Informed Care, and Solution Focused Therapy.

She has been with Covenant Family Solutions for a little over a year and in that time has dedicated her work primarily to play therapy. Logging close to 1500 play therapy hours. Amber has often gone the extra mile for those she works with, at times starting at 7:00 am and ending at 6:00pm to ensure availability and minimize impact of children being taken out of school. There have even been times when Amber has come in to work with children and families on weekends.

Amber has been a huge advocate for her patients and has a deep love for working with patients and families diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Amber has created groups for patients with this diagnosis to support with social skills and opportunities to engage with others in a supportive environment at Covenant Family Solutions. She exhibited at the Corridor Autism Expo. She has also supported families struggling to access resources and funding for treatment through wraparound offered in Linn County. She has also reached out to several different local pediatricians, doctors offices, and other professionals to support in community understanding of play therapy and Autism awareness, support, and resources.

Amber continues to attend trainings and continuing education opportunities to support growth as a play therapist.  She abides by the code or Ethics and holds a high standard for best practice protocol and procedures. She is independent, driven, and never says no to a chance to teach, collaborate, or consult other professionals or students both in the general community and in the mental health field.

To summarize, Amber is amazing and magical. She is deserving of recognition for her dedication in the field of play therapy.

2017 Award Winners

Lifetime Achievement Award – Terry Kottman Ph.D., RPT-S, NCC, LMHC

Because she has been the light and guide for many of us on our own play therapy path it only makes sense that the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award is, Terry Kottman. Terry has been referred to as the “god-mother” of Adlerian Play Therapy. She is the founder of The Encouragement Zone where she provides play therapy training and supervision, life coaching, counseling, and “play-shops for women.” She is an international speaker, author, and I am told a “wonderful” theater actress. I could go on listing her accomplishments but Terry is much more than her accomplishments.

Play Therapist of the Year – Jen Alexander MA, NCC, SB-RPT

The recipient has shown a strong and steady dedication to practicing and promoting play therapy for more than 15 years, devoting her professional career to helping children in her role as an elementary school counselor.  She has encouraged many of the masters’ students placed with her for internship and practicum to follow in her footsteps as a school counselor who is also a play therapist.  She has continued to engage in learning opportunities throughout the past twenty years, taking classes, teaching classes, learning and teaching.  She recently finished writing a new book–a book designed to help teachers and parents understand the importance of supporting children who have experienced trauma.  She is Iowa’s first School Based-Registered Play Therapist.

Rookie of the Year – Jessica Pladsen MA, LMFT

This year’s recipient is passionate about utilizing play therapy techniques and is finishing up her supervision to become an RPT-S.   She is constantly seeking new information and education in the field of play therapy in order to expand on her ability to the treat the children in her practice.

Mentorship Award – Lindsey Swales LISW, CTP

The recipient has demonstrated the utmost professionalism with her clients, and works hard to advocate for them and represent them in any way that she can. In her role as a therapist, she exemplifies the ethics of our field, and demonstrates strong role-modeling skills for clients and parents. She works hard to help transfer her skills to other practitioners.  Her experiences and willingness to share them with others sends a positive message to the therapists she mentors, as well as the other providers with whom she coordinates care. Her attention to detail, and her willingness to take the time to teach others in the way they best understand sets her apart.

Award Descriptions:

Lifetime Achievement Award –

This award is to be given to an IAPT professional member in good standing that has been a leader in the field of Play Therapy in the state of Iowa. If retired, has been an APT/IAPT professional in good standing. This is an award given as long as there is a suitable candidate. Member nominations due beginning of June with it awarded in September at the Iowa annual conference.

Criteria

1. Professional Scholarship – Therapist has contributed to research or other scholarly work through endeavors such as presenting at conferences, published research, or other publications (ie: newspaper articles).

2. Trainings – Provided substantial quality and or quantity of play therapy undergraduate and/or graduate instruction, continuing education, and/or supervision that advanced the field of play therapy.

3. Advocacy – Therapist has advocated for the health, wellbeing and protection of children and adolescents.

4. Advancing the Field of Play Therapy – Therapist has conducted substantial quality/quantity of public education or promotion that significantly advanced the field of play therapy.

5. Mentorship & Supervision – Has encouraged and assisted others in exploring interest in play therapy and achieving their RPT/S status.

6. Community Involvement – Therapist has been involved in making their community a better place for children and adolescents.

7. Currently in Practice – Therapist has carried a caseload over the last year that emphasized the use of play therapy.

Has abided by the Code of Ethics, standard of practice and all other legal standards and requirements promulgated by those authorities by which nominee has been granted license or certification.

We encourage nominator to include letters of support of the nominee for this award.

Play Therapist of the Year Award

This award will be given on a yearly basis to a RPT/S that has shown leadership, passion, and promotion for the field of Play Therapy in the state of Iowa. Nominee is currently an IAPT member in good standing. This award is given as long as there is a suitable candidate. Member nominations due beginning of June with it awarded in September at the Iowa annual conference.

1. RPT/S who shows dedication to promoting play therapy.

2. Has carried a caseload over the last year that emphasized the use of play therapy.

3. Engages in learning opportunities such as supervision, workshops, and reading professional literature to better him/herself as a play therapist.

4. Has encouraged assisted others in exploring interest in play therapy and/or achieving their RPT/S status.

5. Provided play therapy undergraduate and/or graduate instruction, continuing education, and/or supervision that advanced the field of play therapy.

Has abided by the Code of Ethics, standard of practice and all other legal standards and requirements promulgated by those authorities by which nominee has been granted license or certification.

Rookie of the Year Award

This award will be given on a yearly basis in recognition of a new play therapist that has demonstrated passion, commitment and excitement for the field of play therapy in the state of Iowa. This award is given as long as there is a suitable candidate. Member nominations due beginning of June with it awarded in September at the Iowa annual conference.

1. A therapist who is in their first 3 years of practice as a play therapist.

2. Has demonstrated passion for play therapy.

3. Has a genuine interest in helping children, adolescents, and families.

4. Commits to ethical and professional behavior.

5. Engages in learning opportunities such as supervision, workshops, and reading professional literature to better him/herself as a play therapist.

6. Is working toward their RPT/S or has received it.

Has abided by the Code of Ethics, standard of practice and all other legal standards and requirements promulgated by those authorities by which nominee has been granted license or certification.

Mentorship Award

This is award is given on a yearly basis to an Iowa therapist that has demonstrated support of RPT/S and those working toward RPT/S status; models advocacy, ethical behavior, and professionalism. Encourages other play therapist and play therapists in-training to become better practitioners. This award is given as long as there is a suitable candidate. Member nominations due beginning of June with it awarded in September at the Iowa annual conference.

Has abided by the Code of Ethics, standard of practice and all other legal standards and requirements promulgated by those authorities by which nominee has been granted license or certification.20