My name is: Jennifer Johnson
What I do for the board:
I am the Board Treasurer - I pay the bills, set the budget for the conference, and file the taxes, among a smattering of other things
Why and when I joined the board:
I chose to join the board when one of my friends suggested I become the Central PA regional coordinator. My first meeting was, I think, Sept 2016. In that first meeting I volunteered to take over as Treasurer in the following June, which was my third meeting and therefore I was made a member and Treasurer at the same time. (Yikes!)
I play at (where I work and what I do for fun):
I am self employed and my practice is called Room To Grow. I see kiddos, of course, families and adults, I think it is about a 50/50 split between adults and play therapy clients.
For fun is a little tougher. I truly enjoy making my home environment cozy and pretty. I have finished painting the walls and am now considering how I want to refinish the kitchen cabinets and get all new hardware… this is never ending. I am pretty handy and can hang or repair drywall, I am not afraid to take on any new projects and stretch my skills. My husband is afraid for me to tackle big projects but that doesn’t stop me! I like to garden - am spending some time this snowy weekend ordering plants from catalogs and dreaming of warm weather, I do yoga, meditate and try to walk daily. One of the main reasons I chose the office where my practice is located is that I can walk to work. I have taken watercolor class and golf lessons last year and tennis the year before as I try to find something that fits for me. I have enjoyed all of these things but haven’t followed through as much as I would like to. I also sing in a local gospel choir which is really fun. I like to spend time with my large family which is a pretty regular thing!
Where I learned to play (school/trainings):
My play therapy training has exclusively been through trainings and conferences. I was introduced to Play Therapy through Jean Camberg and my first conference was in 2007 at the Penn Stater where we return this year. Jean provided some of my supervision and training and then I also sought supervision and training in other places as I started to practice in a group setting. My first national conference was in 2010 in Kentucky and it blew me away! So many great presenters and enthusiasm for the work which was absolutely infectious! I also took a 2 year online course with Dottie Higgins Klein to explore ways to combine family therapy, play therapy and mindfulness, which has been so helpful for me to structure my work.
Why play therapy:
I don’t have a good answer for this. I was not going to work with kids at all in grad school. Then I started a job in an inpatient program with adolescents. Then a friend who owned a home based family intervention program offered me an opportunity to get out of inpatient work. From there, I sort of fell into play therapy through Jean when I was supervising MSW students. I moved into a group outpatient practice because they needed people who were comfortable working with children, and I started to “play around” with the process and found some really powerful results as well as some not so successful results. I kept getting supervision and going to trainings and doing the online course with Dottie Higgins Klein and felt better about the work. For me, this is an ongoing process to keep educated as I work to be a better play therapist and serve the youngest and most vulnerable members of our community
My favorite play therapy book (why?):
The Healing Power of Play by Eliana Gil - it is the first play therapy book I read. I saw Eliana at that first conference, she was the keynote speaker, and she was so wonderful and inspiring. She made play therapy feel like something I could and should do.
My favorite children’s book:
The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown. It is not nearly as popular as her other really well known book, but I love it! Get it and read it!
My favorite play therapy technique:
I love the sand and the miniature selection I have accrued, and I almost always have kids, and sometimes adults, create a genogram in the sand or on a table with miniatures (Eliana Gil). I also really like to start every session with parents telling me and their kids what they have enjoyed about them over the week or what they have seen the kids really trying hard to accomplish. I find this so useful for both the kids to hear and for the adults to change the way they watch their kids over the week (Dottie Higgins Klein).
My favorite play therapy quote:
“Always remember, you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” Christopher Robin