Play Therapy

Multiple Income Stream Success Story #3: Teaching

Multiple Income Streams Success Stories(5)As we highlight more opportunities to use things that you enjoy doing and instances where others request your services to generate multiple income streams, I am sharing stories of other practitioners who have found ways to do just that: We often forget that we have achieved at least a master's level education that can qualify us to teach others. There are many opportunities out there for teaching. Consider these options if teaching others is a passion for you. Teaching university or college courses, online courses or webinars, community workshops, or professional trainings.

Getting started with teaching can be very easy; start with who you know. Contact your alma mater or other nearby colleges and universities. Many universities have positions available for adjunct faculty to teach entry level classes or to offer professional trainings to students in your field. Keep in mind, these types of teaching commitments usually last for extended periods, so be sure that they work for your timeline and make sense financially.

Presenting or developing online courses or webinars can be an easy, passive source of income. Once a training has been developed, you can easily record it and make it available for download or schedule various presentation times to virtually present it to others. This is an excellent area where your expertise can lead you to topics or needed courses. It also allows you the opportunity to reach well beyond the scope of your geographical location.

Starting small can often lead you to bigger opportunities and income growth. Consider providing small trainings at your practice for continuing education credits. Pam Dyson, MA, LPC, did just that when starting her play therapy trainings. When Pam originally started with trainings, it worked out to about 25% of her income. As those trainings became more successful Pam grew those trainings to the point where they provide 75% of her income. Pam shares this about her experience in growing teaching as an income stream.2202435

“In 2010, I became an Approved Provider for the Association for Play Therapy. I began by offering a day long play therapy training, once a month, out of my private practice office, where attendees could earn the clock hours needed to become an RPT. I set up a website to promote the trainings, and within a year I was at capacity for each training. To meet the demand, I began offering four day-long trainings per month."

If you would like to learn more about Pam Dyson and the trainings that she offers, please visit DFW Play Therapy Training.

Community workshops are another area where teaching can be a beneficial source of income. Workshops are excellent because they often don't take much time to develop and also only last for brief periods. In my practice, we have sometimes taken areas or groups of individuals who have a need for instruction in a particular area and turned that into a workshop. I have done this when I see a consistent or similar problem in my clientele. At one point, I was working with many women who were suffering from a lack of sex drive. I developed a workshop for cultivating desire in marriage that I would present for a few hours every few months.

I encourage you to keep in mind doing those things that you are passionate about. Teaching may not be your cup of tea, but there are plenty of other ways to generate multiple streams of income. If you're still having trouble coming up with something, refer back to my 5 Key Questions to help you get started.

Visit the new for webinars and consulting services


Visit the new for webinars and consulting services

FREE Download Get 52 Blog Post Topics & prompts when you sign up for PPT list

Join my Private Practice Toolbox Facebook group and connect with 3200 therapists around the globe in 2 simple steps: 1) Click request to join the group and 2) Fill out this brief questionnaire before you’ll be added to the group.

Adventures In Private Practice: Play Therapist Pam Dyson, LPC, RPT

"I provide practical solutions to child behavior problems," says Pam Dyson, LPC, RPT of St. Louis. What parent couldn't use some practical solutions?

As a child development expert, parenting coach, licensed professional counselor and registered play therapist, Dyson is clear about her mission to help children and families through play therapy and parent coaching. Learn more about Dyson's private practice journey, how she manages the ebb and flow of income impacted by the school year sessions, and how play plays a role in her own self-care.

Why did you decide to open a private practice?

I entered graduate school in mid-life with the goal of opening a private practice. Having been an early childhood educator for many years I knew there was a need in my geographic area for a therapist specializing in working with children 3-10 years of age.

I knew how to reach my target audience and I knew there was a market for additional specialized services such as consulting and coaching.  I also wanted the freedom to set my own hours. I knew that only by having my own practice would I be able to achieve all of those goals.

Clients that therapists find to be the most "difficult" are sometimes the ones who can teach them the most. What have you learned from your toughest clients?

Young children with challenging behavior problems try the patience of parents and caregivers and can be challenging for therapists. The younger the child, the less they have the ability to express their feelings and their needs.  Play therapy gives a child the freedom to express their feelings through toys and play materials.

By being with a child and observing their play I gain an understanding of what the child needs. Once a child is heard and understood we can begin implementing strategies to meet the child’s needs and overcome challenging behaviors.  Understanding the child from the child’s perspective is the key to the process.

What's your biggest pet peeve about private practice?

The unpredictability of steady income. There are cycles when I’m busy and when I’m not.  Mine is related to the school year. When school is not in session during the summer and holiday breaks children are not being brought to therapy. My busiest times of year are in the fall after school starts and after the winter break. I supplement my income with consulting services to schools and other professionals, parent coaching and play therapy training to mental health professionals.

How did you discover or develop your practice "niche"?

I was an early childhood educator before I became a therapist. When I enrolled in graduate school I knew I wanted to work with children using play therapy. I took course work related to counseling children, completed an internship at an agency specializing in child therapy and attended seminars and workshop specific to play therapy. Once I was licensed and opened my practice I already had a solid skill base as a play therapist. Having been a teacher I also had the skills necessary to work collaboratively with parents. It was a natural fit.

What resource (book, website, person) helped you the most when setting up your private practice?

I stumbled across an article by Lynn Grodski in Psychotherapy Networker Magazine that inspired me to pursue private practice. I felt she addressed my questions realistically so I read more of her writings and subscribed to her email newsletter.

What has surprised you most about being in private practice?

How much I enjoy every aspect from seeing clients to paying the bills. I anticipated not enjoying the routine, mundane tasks but I take pride in overseeing every detail.

Has your private practice helped you grow professionally? How so?

I’ve gained a lot of experience as a play therapist and two years ago I put those skills into training other therapists in the modality of play therapy by founding the St. Louis Center for Play Therapy Training.  As an approved provider of continuing education for the Association of Play Therapy I offer training opportunities for mental health professionals who are pursing credentialing as a registered play therapist.  As word of the quality of my trainings has spread I’m receiving requests to bring play therapy training to locations across the country.

Has it helped you grow personally, too? How so?

I’ve gained a lot of self-confidence not only in my ability to provide quality therapeutic services but in my ability to manage the business side of my practice. Presenting at conferences and seminars has helped me develop public speaking skills.

Being a therapist can be emotionally exhausting. What do you do to care for your own emotional and psychological health?

When I lock client files in the file cabinet at the end of the day I symbolically lock away my emotional connection to them as well. It ensures I don’t take my work home with me. I make it a priority to do things that are fun and playful such as listening to music, going to concerts and making handcrafted items. It would be challenging to be an effective play therapist if I didn’t make time to play.

How do you cope with the inevitable stressors involved with being your own boss?

I handle all of the day to day details of my practice myself. I’m a very organized person and I rely on to-do lists. While it’s time consuming it’s not overwhelming.  I network with other private practice therapists for support and encouragement regarding the challenges of private practice.

What personal strengths have helped you succeed in private practice?

Growing up on a farm in Kansas helped me develop a strong work ethic.  I’m not afraid to push up my sleeves and tackle whatever needs to be done in order to be successful.  My social skills are strong so networking and marketing come easy to me.  I also have a lot of self awareness and recognize that growing and maintaining a private practice is a process that takes a lot of patience and perseverance and that I sometimes need to reach out to my peers for support and encouragement.

To learn more about Pam Dyson's private practice visit

If you'd like to be featured in "Adventures In Private Practice Column" please submit a practice summary, and answers to the above questions here.


[Video] Peek Inside A Child's Dream Play Therapy Room

What impressed me most about this video tour is Shannon P Overland's amazing play therapy room. I think it would be difficult to get child therapy clients to actually leave the session! I bet a lot of play therapists will envy Shannon's set up at her private practice Overland Child and Family Services in PA. Thank you Shannon for sharing your beautiful presence and amazing office with us.

Learn more about Shannon Overland MA, NCPC, FGDMF practice at

If you’re interested in submitting a YouTube virtual office tour video get details here.


What They Don't Teach You In Grad School

img7207If you're a graduate student in the mental health field planning on going into private practice, here are a few things that you won't learn during your program. Most of what I learned about psychotherapy and private practice came after I graduated. After 17 years of practice, here are a few things I wish I'd known earlier:

1) Clients don't care about your degree

I'm rarely asked what degree I hold or what school I attended. I've found that very few clients know the difference between an MSW, MFT, PhD, MFCC, PsyD or any other degree. What clients really want to know is that you're qualified to do therapy, and if you can help them.

2) You'll learn more from supervisors than coursework

Getting my MSW was a license to actually do what I wanted, but the most valuable learning came from my post-graduate school clinical supervisor. It's important to seek out an amazing supervisor and mentor to train you in how to actually do therapy and how to run a practice. Seek out a  private practice internship setting that closely resembles what you envision yourself doing in the future.

3) Keep all of your research papers and course syllabi

Even though you may want to purge yourself from anything related to graduate school, you may want to hang on to those papers. I just used a research paper from my MSW program as my writing sample for my PhD program. You can also re-purpose papers for future blog posts and articles to publish.

If you ever decide to go apply for a doctoral degree or an advanced training certificate down the road that requires transcript evaluation, you may be required to submit your course syllabi to provide details of the course content. Also, keep a copy of the official course description in the school catalog for the years you attended. When I applied for doctoral programs, some programs had difficulty determining what my classes were and required official course catalog descriptions.

4) Stay in touch with your supervisors and colleagues

I can't tell you how many times I've asked my former supervisor for letters of recommendation for various certifications and applications through the years. Keep connected with a select your professional relationships. They're not only good referral sources but to provide job references and professional recommendations.

5) Take business courses

A common sentiment among mental health private practitioners is "I wish I knew more about business." It is rare that mental health graduate programs offer business courses, so students interested in going into private practice need to seek out workshops and courses.

What did you learn after grad school? Do you have any advice for graduate students? Post your comment below.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Proctor Archives