Last Thursday, PDI debuted “Dine and Discuss”, a new series of events designed to explore different areas of early childhood education. Each session in this series features a moderated panel discussion with a diverse group of professionals.
Thursday’s event focused on therapeutic career paths, featuring a distinguished panel of professionals from several areas of this field. Each speaker shared a personal narrative of their journey that illuminated both the technical steps involved in joining the field, as well as the day-to-day joys and challenges of their profession. Read on for a full list of the speakers, an overview and highlights of the event and to continue the discussion.
Each of the presenters talked about how rewarding their work is. The most significant draw to the field for the presenters was the direct involvement in the lives of children. Several of the presenters also discussed how the field allowed them to combine other passions that they had been cultivating throughout their lives in a meaningful way. Joseph Lee, for instance, talked about how he began his music training at the age of four, which he combined with his interest in psychology to become a music therapist. Cecilia M. P. Land talked about her love of visual arts, and how she was able to use this passion to help children as part of the therapeutic process.
Many also spoke about what it takes to flourish in a therapeutic career. Patience and creativity were identified by all as crucial to working with young children. Shari Mayer talked about the need for flexibility in physical therapy, and how sessions should be structured around what a child finds engaging and has the energy for on any given day. Jose Acevedo and Jeff Schwartz, who provide recreational therapy to children with terminal illness, spoke about the intense emotionality of working with this population of pediatric patients.
Quality education, field work and ongoing training were emphasized by all of the presenters as well. Susan Schwartz noted that those students who had more clinically intensive programs had a much easier time in their more advanced degree programs. She and Joseph Lee both strongly encouraged gaining years of work experience in a supportive environment like an agency or hospital before venturing into independent practice. Karinna Dancourt also spoke to the importance of working collaboratively with other professionals serving the same child and teaching to the whole child regardless of your own discipline.
The comments and questions from the participants at the panel were phenomenal. To continue the discussion, we’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments section!
How has your field work experience supported your learning in your area of interest? As a new professional, what do you hope to achieve working in this field? If you attended the panel, did anything from the discussion resonate with you? In what ways has collaboration benefited your work?
Finally, we’d like to thank all the presenters for sharing their insight and experiences about their work at our first Dine and Discuss!
Recreation Therapist/Wellness Coordinator
Jeff Schwartz, CTRS, MSEd
Joseph Lee, MTA, MT-BC
Accredited & Board Certified Music Therapist
Susan Schwartz, MS, CCC-SLP
Private Practice Speech and Language Pathologist
Cecilia M. P. Land, LCAT and LCSW
Shari B. Mayer, PT, PCS
Licensed Physical Therapist/Pediatric Certified Specialist
Karinna Dancourt, MS, OTR/L
Licensed Occupational Therapist