Pam Dyson is a play therapist who was once an early childhood educator. In this interview, she describes her play therapy practice and the consultations and trainings she gives to other therapists. She shares the challenges she had in building a successful practice in St. Louis and then having to do it all over again when she moved to Plano, Texas. Pam is a great example of a therapist who has achieved success by being good at what she does, working hard, being strategic in her marketing, and having multiple revenue sources.
[2:19] Pam shares her story about how she became a play therapist.
[4:39] Pam explains how she is fascinated by children. She states that adults often forget the wonder of childhood, so her focus is helping adults understand children from their perspective.
[8:33] Pam sees children aged 3-12 and works with the caregiver/parent. She states that working with children is very physical, so she balances out her day by also seeing parents/caregivers and doing training and consultations for therapists in play therapy.
[13:47] Pam explains the knowledge and skills that therapists need in order to become a play therapist – an understanding of child development, an ability to work with the caregivers and collaborate with schools, as well as have an understanding of how children communicate through play. Pam also states that facilitating play therapy with children is very different from playing with children.
[14:28] Pam explains that there are different models of play therapy.
[15:00] Pam states that there is a growing interest from therapists in getting trained in play therapy.
[18:40] Pam shares that she has many referrals from schools. She has a strong presence amongst school counselors and that explains that many of them attend her workshops. Sometimes she gets referrals from medical professionals.
[22:20] Pam states that she has very good success working with parents, as well as children.
[23:00] Pam explains her weekly schedule, how many clients she sees, her administrative and marketing tasks.
[24:18] Pam describes how she built her second play therapy practice in Plano, Texas after having moved there 2 years ago. She explains some of her challenges in building a second practice.
[26:15] Pam states that she has a strong social media presence and this helped her build her practice after her move.
[27:22] Pam describes how she connects with schools by presenting at school conferences. Many school counselors then refer children to her, or refer therapists to her for her play therapy training programs.
[29:35] Pam states that she has “friendly competition” – everyone brings something different to the table.
[30:00] Pam states that Google Adwords has been part of her marketing. She shares that she keeps track of what parents say so she can use them for keywords with her ads. However, most of her marketing is through social media. She explains how she networks with other therapists as well. She states that she is starting to get word of mouth referrals with other parents in Plano, and this was a key way she got clients in St. Louis.
[34:00] Pam explains that she has had a lot success using Pinterest for marketing. She has about 16,000 Pinterest followers, and the majority of them are therapists and school counselors. She explains that they then attend her workshops after finding her on Pinterest.
[37:15] Pam discusses how she has never taken insurance – she states this has been her biggest obstacle in building her practice – she explains to parents that she does not diagnosis children and that if she took insurance, she would have to give a diagnosis. She found other therapists who do not take insurance and they refer to each other.
[40:49] Pam says that increasingly parents are using a health savings account to pay for mental health services.
[41:12] Pam states that she has never doubted that she could build her practice both of the times she has built it. She explains that it is important for her to have multiple streams of revenue by offering consultation and training to therapists.
[42:43] Pam’s advice for building a practice – develop a business plan with a financial plan. Also, know your target audience, how you are going to reach them, and what services you are going to offer. Once you do these, you need to become really skilled at what you do. The quality of your services must be top-notch, or all the marketing in the world won’t help.
Bio – Pam Dyson – Plano, Texas
Pam Dyson, MA, LPC-S, RPT-S, is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor, Registered Play Therapist Supervisor, and a child development expert. In addition to her private practice www.pamdyson.com in Plano, Texas she provides consultation and supervision services and facilitates play therapy workshops across the US.
She is the recipient of the Association for Play Therapy 2013 Key Award for Professional Education and Training and is currently serving a three-year term on the APT Board of Directors. Pam is the founder and director of the DFW Center for Play Therapy Training. www.dfwplaytherapy.com
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