Photo by Becca Sabot
Matt Witham and Tina Shah
What does it take to be a child therapist? In-depth knowledge of child development and expertise in therapeutic best practices. Oh, and an empathetic spirit that can play with a therapy doll and kick a soccer ball around until the talking comes easier.
At Washburn Center for Children, the therapist trainers have it all. And this year, the pioneering United Health Foundation Training Institute launches. “We’re developing a nationally recognized training program,” says Institute co-director Matt Witham. Washburn-trained therapists will use the best practices they learn to more effectively treat struggling children across the United States. “Mental health looks different in different populations,” says Tina Shah, assistant supervisor of the Psychology Training Program, “and trauma cuts across all demographics and socioeconomic status.” Teaching within these delicate intersections is Washburn Center’s expertise. Because therapists don’t just kick balls and play with dolls. They want people to receive “compassionate, high-integrity, effective therapeutic care that could change their life,” says Shah. This requires special training in a complex, relational world. Says Witham, “Healthy relationships are necessary for leading healthy, happy lives and for teaching others how.”