My name is Troy Cooper. I was asked to share a little about myself as a play therapist and as a member of the Association for Play Therapy. I will start off with a little background information. In college I wasn’t sure what I was going to study at first. One day I had an epiphany that I wanted to work with kids. I wasn’t sure how exactly I was going to do this, but I ended up taking an intro to social work class and I loved it. I finished my bachelor’s degree in social work at Utah State University. I later got my master’s degree from the University of Utah. Right after I became a CSW I was able to get a job at Odyssey House Parents with Children Program, and I have been there for a little over 5 years.
I was able to study play therapy during my graduate education and I have used it everyday in my work at Odyssey House. I typically follow a Child-Centered Play Therapy approach but I do some directional play therapy as well. I feel like I am still a beginner in terms of my knowledge and understanding of play therapy but now that I am trying to become a Registered Play Therapist, my knowledge is slowly growing. I think one of my favorite play therapy techniques I use in family therapy is a balloon game I learned from Clair Mellenthin (shout out!). I am not sure if she has an official name for this intervention, but basically you blow up 5-6 balloons and write different questions on them. The family is directed to play together in bouncing all the balloons in the air. Once one balloon falls, the bouncing stops and each family member answers the question on the balloon that fell. You then remove that balloon and continue with the rest of the balloons and repeat the same process until all the questions have been answered. This intervention has opened a door to some much needed expression of thoughts and emotions within the families I work with.
In closing I would like to mention some important things about myself that don’t necessary relate to the work I do at Odyssey House. I am a husband and a father of 2 children. Tragically I lost my first child to complications during my wife’s pregnancy, but I always have to mention I have a daughter because it is my way of honoring her. I also have a son that is 6 months old. He brings me so much joy and I love playing with him. I consider myself a kid at heart. I still love cartoons, playing with toys, and drinking chocolate milk. I feel this helps me connect with the children I work with. I guess that’s it from me. I am not sure how to sign off so I will end with one of my favorite quotes from Garry Landreth, “Birds fly, fish swim, and children play.”
Troy Dillon Cooper
Child and Family Therapist
Odyssey House of Utah