Author Archives: Jaclyn Trecartin

Using Intuition Within Sessions

Posted by: Jaclyn Trecartin on June 17, 2014 4:35 pm

Intuition is the knowledge within us.  Look at the word:  INtuition ->INside.  To use intuition, we have to trust ourselves and follow our feelings.  In general, as a society, we spend so much time focusing on logic and what “makes sense in our heads,” that we neglect our gut feelings.  Research is showing the body has neural fibers associated with communication and memories located OUTSIDE of the brain.  This makes sense!  We are not just heads hovering around, but whole people with whole bodies!  Research has also shown vertical integration, listening to feedback from our bodies, is vital for brain development and is a function of secure attachment.  With all this, there is no way I am able to ignore my intuition, least of all during sessions. Continue reading

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

The Therapist’s Office as a Therapeutic Tool (Part 2)

Posted by: Jaclyn Trecartin on May 30, 2014 8:00 am

The first part of this topic introduced the concept of stabilization as it relates to office space, and looked at how light and natural elements can be used as a therapeutic tool.  This post will discuss how sounds contributes to a  stabilized environment.


Depending on your office set-up, you may need more sound buffers than others.  If you share a space with other professionals and are close to a waiting/reception area, you will want to create a soundscape that allows your sessions to not be overheard as well as preventing outside noise from disrupting you and your clients.  Both scenarios prevent stabilization.


Music playing in the waiting area can do wonders to cut back on sound pollution.  Keep in mind the environment you wish to create when choosing the tunes.  Most likely, heavy rock will not be appropriate (but you never know!).  Jazz, spa/nature sounds, classical music, instrumental versions of popular songs are popular waiting area soundtracks that may work for you and your space.

I also like to have natural sound CDs playing on low in my therapy room.  Not only does it help buffer sound, I find it really creates a calmer atmosphere in my office, setting the tone for sessions.  Currently, rain sounds are my personal favourite.

Water Features

Outside my office, there is a water fountain hanging on the wall.  This creates a solid sounding babble, which adds to the soundscape I strive to create.  Not only is it practical—the fountain acts as a sound barrier, it is soothing.  A word of advice: if you are putting a fountain in your office, go for one designed for interior spaces.  The one outside my office is meant for gardens and, therefore, was too loud (the opposite of being stabilizing!) in my therapy room.

White Noise Machines

This is one piece of equipment I currently do not have, although one is on order.  You can buy a machine that only offers white noise, or a go for a model with other options as well (such as rainforest sounds, waves, et cetera).  I lean towards the models with more options.  As well as acting as a sound buffer, white noise machines can be incredibly soothing!


This concludes the posts on stabilization in therapy, and how the space in which we conduct sessions is a vital tool.  If you have questions or comments, I would love to hear from you!  Email me at [email protected] and we can chat more!


*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Saving Money As a Child Therapist

Posted by: Jaclyn Trecartin on May 20, 2014 9:25 am

Being a child therapist comes with a lot of stuff: art supplies, toys, sand and water tables are common tools of the trade.  As with any tools, they can get pricey.  While I would love to have tons of fantasy figurines, artisan puppets, and professional-grade art supplies, these are not in the budget.  However, with a bit of creativity and some effort, child therapists can have an office brimming with these tools at a reasonable cost.

Plan Out Your Space:

This means, before buying supplies and toys, pause and think, “What do I need and what do I have room for?” You may be surprised at how much stuff you can pass on.  What are the bare bones you need for your work?  Go with that and build up.  In my practice, the essentials are: a dollhouse and dolls/figurines, miniature vehicles, a selection of stuffed animals (which can double as puppets), play-doh and clay, paint and paint brushes, baby dolls, some building toys (like lego), and a sand table.  Everything else, though wonderful, is the icing on the cake.  Keep in mind also what your space can actually hold.  I have passed some excellent deals because I simply have no room.

Dollar Stores, DIY and Second Hand (Or, Even Better…Free!)

Guess what? Your dollhouse doesn’t have to be a deluxe model with multiple rooms.  A simple one from a dollar store will do nicely.  You could always make one from old boxes or bookcases that you have lying around, saving money and reusing! On the topic of DIY, if you don’t feel comfortable tackling a project ask around for help.  My dad’s friend teaches a carpentry class and as a project, they made my sand tray: complete with lid and rolling table (with storage!) A few gift certificates as a thank you were much more economical than buying it new.

Thrift stores, yard sales, and kijiji are treasure troves for supplies.  A two-dollar palette of watercolours will work just as well in a session as a twelve dollar one, while some elbow grease and cleaner makes used items sparkly again (I highly recommend magic erasers).  Additionally, a trip through the washer and dryer helps restore second hand stuffed toys to their former glory.

The best price is most definitely free! It also doesn’t hurt to tell friends and family you are on the look out for certain items, maybe they (or someone they know) are purging old toys, etc.  Look around you for supplies in the recycling bin and in nature.  Beach comb some seashells and rocks for your sand tray—it won’t cost you a dime and you’ll likely have fun doing it.

So You Don’t Have “It All”…Don’t Stress!

You know what the amazing thing about working with kids is?  They are, by nature, creative.  So, if your client NEEDS a bridge to go in the sand tray, she’ll likely find something to stand in for one (such as sheet of paper), or ask for your aid. They are only limited by their imaginations, not by your supply of tools!


*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

The Therapist’s Office as a Therapeutic Tool (Part 1)

Posted by: Jaclyn Trecartin on May 16, 2014 3:28 pm

I believe that my office/space is a vital tool for the therapeutic process.  This can be pretty obvious: for my work with children, I rely on toys and art supplies—obvious tools of my trade.  However, there is more to my set-up than having certain resources.  I work to keep my space child-friendly and accessible, as I find the best work happens when clients have a broad selection of activities and toys.  Therefore, open-storage is a must.

Aside from the resources kept in your office, there are other things you can do to make the space more conducive to therapy.  The rest of this post will talk about stabilization.  Stabilization, when something is stable and secure, is vital in therapy! When stabilization is seen in an office, clients (and therapists!) feel calmer, and more able to tackle interventions.


Light is so important!  The quality of light in your space is something to not overlook.  Do you have overhead fluorescent lighting?  Floor lamps can be turned on instead, alleviating the harshness.  Ambient lighting, such as twinkle/Christmas lights and accent lamps are both decorative and functional. Not only are floor lamps and ambient lighting helpful in making a room cozier, they have biological importance.  For the most part, when clients come to us, they are in distress and may have hyper- or hypo-aroused nervous systems.  Gentle lighting decreases stimulation, which is helpful for the hyper-aroused, and feels safer than harsh overhead lighting, which benefits both hyper- and hypo-aroused people.  As my office is an interior one, I decided to make a faux-stained glass window with some LED lights behind it.  The lights give a nice warm glow through the coloured panes and the window itself kind of tricks my brain into thinking there is an actual window in the office, making a connection to outdoors.

Continue reading

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Sand Play in Therapy: Finding a Sand Table That Works for Your Practice

Posted by: Jaclyn Trecartin on April 17, 2014 10:38 am

For me, Sand Play is a newer addition to my practice and I love it! While I could write loads about this therapeutic modality, this post will focus on finding a sand table that works for you and your practice.

What Do You Have Room For?

An obvious question, but an important one! Your space will offer limitations.  If you travel for sessions, you may wish to look into a portable sand tray.  Maybe a tray with a lid that can be shelved when not in use would be best for you.  Or perhaps sand table with a lid that doubles as a regular table suits your needs.  Worth keeping in mind is whether water will be added to the box and therefore needs to be waterproof.

Money, Money, Money!

What budget do you have for sand play supplies? Do you want to go with a professional model or something less expensive? For my practice, I had a specific goal in mind: a sand tray with a lid and handles (for easy lifting) that rests on a rolling table.  I like the flexibility of being able to move the tray onto the floor or keep it at table height.  While I was willing to pay for a pre-fabricated “therapy grade” model, I was able to get mine made for free.  My father’s friend teaches carpentry and the class made my table and tray as projects.  I did give some gift certificates as a thank you; spending significantly less than if I bought it new.  Plastic storage bins with lids also make fantastic sand trays.  These are portable, easy to use on the floor, or can be placed upon a table.

Continue reading

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Private Practice: Doing it on the Cheap! (Part 2)

Posted by: Jaclyn Trecartin on April 9, 2014 12:49 pm

As my previous post showed, it is possible to embark on private practice without incurring tons of debt.  It does take some planning and effort, but it is well worth it!

What You Need Versus What You Want

How do you want your space to look?  Are you responsible for the waiting area?  What about a washroom?  Do you want chairs? A couch? Benches? Beanbag chairs? A hammock (hey, it’s your space)?  Now, what do you need?  Remember, you can always add to the space as your practice grows.  Start with the necessities before adding luxuries.

Thrift Stores, Yard Sales, and Kijiji

Why pay full price for something you can get a great deal on the item slightly used?   I easily saved $250 buying two chairs and an ottoman off of kijiji versus their retail value.  Here’s a tip: make sure whatever you buy can be easily cleaned, is in pretty great shape, and doesn’t have any clinging odors (like cigarette smoke).  Also, buy a receipt book and ask sellers to fill one out for you at the time of purchase, listing the items bought.  This way, you can claim the expenses.  It won’t hurt to let your friends and family know what you need and see if anyone has a lead or is getting rid of something.  I got a free Keurig coffee maker from a friend who just wasn’t using it.  You cannot beat free! You just cannot!


This is a great time to Do-It-Yourself, if you are so inclined (or find a friend who is).  A new coat of paint can make thrift store finds seem new and fresh.  Curtains, pillows, and seat cushions can be much cheaper to make than to buy new.  Maybe you have a talent for art, or take interesting photos.  Why not use your talents to decorate the space?  The internet is a treasure trove of DIY ideas and techniques, so have a look around.

Price Comparison

For those items you can’t get free, second-hand, or DIY, comparison shop.  I have been known to spend over an hour looking for a cheaper price on an item (such as a certain brand of play sand) to find the best deal (for said sand, about a $20 difference).  Look at online flyers for local shops, ask for rain cheques if items sell out, and if applicable use coupons!

Cost-Free Art

This is a technique often seen in coffee shops and restaurants.  Offer local artists a free venue to show their works—your office!  Displayed with an artist’s card (and prices), you have original work and they have free advertising.  Both parties win! Work out an agreement that clearly outlines who is responsible for the works while they are in your care.  My landlord had this idea for our waiting area and we now have gorgeous photographs from a local gallery hanging up.  For free.  And, as I said earlier: you cannot beat free!

I hope you found this two-part series on how to economically begin private practice. Perhaps you have some tips you could share?  I’d love to hear them!


*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Private Practice: Doing it on the Cheap! (Part 1)

Posted by: Jaclyn Trecartin on March 26, 2014 3:51 pm

There is no doubt about it: private practice requires some financial investment.  Perhaps you are considering branching out into this exciting field, but are reluctant to, as you do not wish to incur debt.  That is totally understandable!  In my business venture, I have garnered a few tips and tricks to minimizing start-up costs, which I am happy to share.  This post (and Part 2) will be a general overview of doing private practice “thriftly” (which I don’t think is a word, but I am employing a teacher’s advice that if you put a made-up word in quotation marks, it becomes a veritable word).  In the posts to follow, I will specifically address economic ways to work as a child, teen, and family therapist.

Get a Good Accountant!

Yes, this tip will cost you money, but trust me; a good accountant is worth their weight in gold!  Ask other private practitioners (counsellors, massage therapists, physiotherapists, etc.) if they recommend someone.  Don’t feel you need to go with the first accountant you meet—shop around until you have someone who can work with your needs.  And have a good idea of what your needs are.

Budget, Plan, and Save

Before actually embarking on your venture, start saving!  These funds will be there to offset any loans and prevent you from going into debt.  Have a plan in mind: how much can you realistically save/afford?  Use this plan to create and stick with a budget.  A budget does not have to be written in stone, but creating one and trying to stay within it will help stop over spending.

Go in With a Colleague

Look into splitting operational costs with someone else.  If you won’t be using the office space during the evenings, another counsellor could use it then.  Maybe you have a fulltime job and only need the space for a few days/nights a week.  Why let it sit empty?

Be Open to Unconventional Spaces

What space do you envision for an office?  Would something different work, and possibly be cheaper? Maybe you’ll want to work from home (and write off some of your home expenses).  Perhaps, you could use a room in a medical office.  Maybe a massage, physiotherapy, or other health clinic has space you could occupy (although, keep in mind your clientele; personally I need a space where I can engage in fun and sometimes noisy play therapy—so certain venues are out!)

This ends the first post of this two-part series.  I hope you gleaned a tip or two or had an idea sparked!

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA