What is Imposter Syndrome in Play Therapy?

Today's episode is about something that often prevents play therapists from becoming the exceptional healers they strive to be: imposter syndrome. Over the years, I've noticed that this pervasive issue significantly impacts play therapists' confidence and effectiveness. I want to share my insights and experiences to help you recognize and overcome it.

Understanding Imposter Syndrome

What is Imposter Syndrome? Imposter syndrome is the feeling that you lack the knowledge and abilities to provide effective play therapy, despite evidence to the contrary. It is not unique to play therapists; almost everyone experiences it at some point. It often manifests as a fear of being exposed as a fraud, even when your clients are making progress.

Why It Matters Imposter syndrome undermines your confidence and effectiveness as a therapist. It can lead to anxiety, overwhelm, and a tendency to overcompensate or avoid necessary interactions, especially with parents.

Signs of Imposter Syndrome

  1. Anxiety and Overwhelm: Constant worry about your ability to help your clients.
  2. Self-Doubt: Believing you are a fraud and lack the necessary skills.
  3. Avoiding Parent Interactions: Fearing parents will discover your perceived inadequacies, leading to avoiding or minimizing interactions with them.
  4. Overcompensation: Bending over backwards to please parents or clients to prove your worth.
  5. Spaghetti Against the Wall Approach: Randomly trying different interventions in a panic, hoping something will work.

Tips for Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Recognize It The first step is acknowledging when imposter syndrome is affecting you. Even experienced therapists encounter it from time to time. Awareness is crucial for addressing it effectively.

Mindset Shift Understand that feeling like an imposter is common and not reflective of your true abilities. Trust in your training and experience.

Lean on Your Play Therapy Model Your play therapy model is your guide. It provides a framework for engaging with clients, understanding their issues, and facilitating change. Trusting your model will help you stay focused and effective.

Engage in Continuous Learning Seek out training and consultation to enhance your skills and confidence. Being mentored by an experienced play therapist can provide invaluable support and guidance.

Build Strong Relationships with Parents Engage parents in the therapeutic process. They need to trust you and understand how play therapy benefits their child. Effective communication can alleviate your fears and enhance the therapeutic alliance.


Imposter syndrome is a common hurdle for play therapists, but recognizing it and implementing strategies to overcome it can significantly enhance your confidence and effectiveness. Remember, you are the expert in the room, and with the right mindset, support, and dedication to your play therapy model, you can overcome these feelings and provide the transformative help your clients need.

If you're interested in furthering your skills and confidence in play therapy, consider exploring courses on foundations, case conceptualization, treatment planning, and progress notes. Visit RH Play Therapy Training for more information.

Categories: : Imposter Syndrome, Play Therapy, Play Therapy Model, Podcast