Thanks for visiting. I’m Jennifer Banks, Stepping Stones Therapist at Pagosa Springs Elementary School.
I am a Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate (LPCC) in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. In addition to working at our local elementary school, I teach public donation based yoga classes at Ross Aragon Community Center, am a voting member of the Town of Pagosa Springs Parks and Recreation Commission, and am a member of the Southwest Growing Partners Community Organizing Fellowship. In counseling, I help to ensure appropriate and quality services are provided by working directly with students and families in individual and small settings to bolster social/emotional skills to improve students’ learning. My areas of specialization and interests include play therapy, child-parent relationship therapy, trauma informed classroom management, recovery from trauma, advocacy oriented counseling, biofeedback, and therapeutic yoga intervention for mental-emotional health. I work with clients mainly of elementary school age and their families.
Licensure and Education
• Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate (CO LPCC-0015241)
• Provisional Professional Counselor (WY PPC-839)
• MS, School Counseling, University of Wyoming
• BA, English & Creative Writing, University of Wyoming
Why Play Therapy?
The Association for Play Therapy defines play therapy as “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.”
More simply put, child play therapy is a way of being with the child that honors their unique developmental level and looks for ways of helping in the “language” of the child – play. Licensed mental health professionals therapeutically use play to help their clients, most often children ages three to 12 years, to better express themselves and resolve their problems.
Play Therapy works best when a safe relationship is created between the therapist and client, one in which the latter may freely and naturally express both what pleases and bothers them.
Mental health agencies, schools, hospitals, and private practitioners have utilized Play Therapy as a primary intervention or as supportive therapy for:
• Behavioral problems, such as anger management, grief and loss, divorce and abandonment, and crisis and trauma.
• Behavioral disorders, such as anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), autism or pervasive developmental, academic and social developmental, physical and learning disabilities, and conduct disorders.
Research suggests Play Therapy is an effective mental health approach, regardless of age, gender, or the nature of the problem, and works best when a parent, family member, or caretaker is actively involved in the treatment process.
(Association for Play Therapy Website)
As a play therapist and social justice advocate, I see both counseling and advocacy as a process by which people come together to identify common problems or goals, mobilize resources, and, in other ways, develop and implement strategies for reaching the objectives they want to accomplish. Through counseling and advocacy, I empower rural folks not only to the realization of personal goals or objectives, but I seek to build people first and foremost. For change to occur on a systemic level, change first must be internalized. Then, these changes must become deeply connected to the daily lives of my clients and students and then can begin the outward manifestation of change. This helps changes to be individual, systemic, and sustainable.
“There must exist a paradigm, a practical model for social change that includes an understanding of ways to transform consciousness that are linked to efforts to transform structures.”
― bell hooks, Killing Rage: Ending Racism