In 1998, LCPC RPT-S Dr. Mary Fry wanted to bring a new therapeutic approach to her practice as an elementary school counselor. A training course with Dr. Garry Landreth, the “Father of Play Therapy,” set her career path. Since then, she has taught and supervised hundreds of graduate and postgraduate students in the art and science of play therapy. She has delved into research and has several publications in this area.She chaired the Board of Directors of the Association for Play Therapy (APT) in 2011 and in 2005 she served in Kansas Play Therapy He served as president of the Association (KSAPT). , teens and adults who may be resistant to talk therapy.
Recently, this passion inspired Fry to make a generous donation to MNU by establishing the Mary Fry Dr. Play Therapy Scholarship. Open to all eligible students for admission to a program at her MNU, which she founded, the scholarship makes this certificate affordable to more licensed mental health professionals. Upon meeting all APT educational requirements, graduates complete supervision by a Registered Play Therapist Supervisor (RPT-S).
Fry taught at MNU from 2004 to 2019 and retired as Professor Emeritus. She says there is a great need for more mental health professionals, especially play therapists.
“After the pandemic, I realized there were a lot of people who were hurt,” Fry says. “They were isolated and needed help. Some fell into alcoholism and bad habits. Mental illness was discovered. It was difficult to teach in. Sometimes their home wasn’t safe.”
School counselors can play a role during school years as they help children learn how to work through problems. Fry says their needs are real, and play therapy incorporated into regular therapy offers another means of reaching them.
“For children under 10, play is their language,” says Fry. “Therapists need to be able to speak the language of the child walking in the room. Toys and other objects in the room can help them work through their pain and emotions.”
Fry notes that unless they are trained in play therapy, the possibilities of how to interpret a child’s behavior, how to react, and how to support a child’s progress can baffle therapists. I add that I have some doubts.
Establishing a scholarship fund for students in MNU’s Play Therapy Certificate Program was a natural choice for Fry.
“Since I quit teaching, I’ve stayed in therapy,” says Fry. She has a private practice and still supervises play therapy graduates.