How To Become a Floortime Therapist

Discover how to become a floortime therapist! Gain the knowledge, skills, and requirements to make a difference in developmental therapy.

June 19, 2024

Becoming a Floortime Therapist

If you're interested in becoming a Floortime therapist, it's important to understand the requirements, experience, and training necessary to excel in this field.

Requirements and Experience

To become a Floortime therapist, applicants must have worked in child development for at least two years, with acceptable experience including working at a school, clinic, or hospital with children with developmental challenges. Self-employed individuals can only apply if they are a licensed professional. This experience provides a solid foundation for understanding the needs of children with developmental differences and prepares individuals for the challenges and rewards of working in the field of Floortime therapy.

Training and Certification

To become a certified Floortime therapist, prospective individuals must complete specific training and certification requirements. One of the initial steps is attending a 1-2 day introductory course given by Jake Greenspan and Tim Bleecker within the last two years. Alternatively, passing the Mastery Test for Dr. Greenspan's Online Professional Course is also acceptable. These courses provide valuable insights into the principles and techniques of Floortime therapy, ensuring that therapists are well-equipped to apply this approach effectively.

In addition to attending the introductory course, individuals aspiring to be Floortime therapists must have a detailed knowledge of the 6 basic and 3 advanced developmental milestones. Understanding these milestones is crucial as they form the foundation of the Floortime approach and guide therapy sessions. This knowledge enables therapists to assess a child's developmental level and tailor their interventions accordingly.

To apply for certification, prospective Floortime therapists are required to submit an up-to-date CV/Resume, ensuring that all professional certifications and training are included. This documentation serves as evidence of the therapist's qualifications and expertise in the field.

The DIRFloortime® Training Program offers comprehensive courses both online and in-person, providing flexibility for individuals interested in learning the DIR® model and DIRFloortime® approach. These training programs are designed to equip therapists with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively implement Floortime therapy in their practice. For more information on the training programs available, you can visit the ICDL website.

By meeting the requirements and completing the necessary training and certification, individuals can embark on a fulfilling career as a Floortime therapist. The knowledge and skills gained through this process will enable therapists to make a positive impact on the lives of children with developmental differences and their families.

Knowledge and Skills

To become a Floortime therapist, individuals must possess a deep understanding of the developmental milestones and acquire relevant professional certifications. These knowledge and skills are essential for effectively implementing the Floortime therapy approach.

Developmental Milestones

Aspiring Floortime therapists must have a detailed knowledge of the developmental milestones that children typically go through. Understanding these milestones allows therapists to assess and interact with children in a developmentally appropriate manner. According to Stanley Greenspan, there are six basic developmental milestones and three advanced developmental milestones that therapists should be familiar with.

The six basic developmental milestones include:

  1. Regulation and Interest in the World: The ability to engage with the environment and show interest in people and objects.
  2. Engagement and Relating: The capacity to interact and form relationships with others.
  3. Two-Way Communication: The ability to engage in back-and-forth communication with others.
  4. Intentional Two-Way Communication: The development of purposeful communication skills.
  5. Problem-Solving and Emotional Thinking: The emergence of problem-solving abilities and emotional understanding.
  6. Logical Thinking: The ability to think logically and engage in abstract reasoning.

In addition to these basic milestones, therapists should also be familiar with three advanced developmental milestones:

  1. Emotional Ideas: The ability to understand and express complex emotions and ideas.
  2. Emotional Thinking: The capacity to think with emotional concepts and develop empathy.
  3. Reflective Thinking: The ability to think about one's own thoughts and feelings, as well as the thoughts and feelings of others.

Professional Certifications

To enhance their expertise and credibility as Floortime therapists, individuals can pursue professional certifications in the field. The DIRFloortime® Training Program, offered by the Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning (ICDL), provides a comprehensive framework for training and certification.

The program offers courses ranging from short 3-hour workshops to the DIRFloortime Expert course, catering to individuals at different levels of expertise. It is important to note that there are no college or university education prerequisites to take DIR 101 - DIR 202 or to earn a DIRFloortime Assistant (DFA) certificate. However, DIR 203 and DIR 204 have specific degree requirements, as outlined by ICDL.

The DIRFloortime® Certificate Program consists of four professional levels:

  1. Basic Certificate (DIR-Basic): This level provides a foundation in Floortime principles and practices.
  2. Certificate of Proficiency (DIR-Proficient): This level demonstrates a higher level of skill and understanding in implementing Floortime.
  3. Advanced Certificate (DIR-Advanced): This level signifies an advanced level of competence in Floortime therapy.
  4. Expert Certificate (DIR-Expert): This highest level is for individuals who have achieved expertise in Floortime and are eligible to teach official DIRFloortime® Training Program certificate courses.

Each level of the certificate program has specific course requirements and assessment rubrics for completion, as detailed by ICDL.

By acquiring in-depth knowledge of developmental milestones and pursuing professional certifications, individuals can become proficient Floortime therapists. These skills and qualifications provide a strong foundation for effectively implementing Floortime therapy and facilitating children's development.

Training Programs

To become a Floortime therapist, individuals must undergo specific training programs that provide the necessary knowledge and skills to implement this therapeutic approach effectively. One such training program is the DIRFloortime® Training Program, which offers a range of courses catering to individuals at different levels of expertise.

DIRFloortime® Courses

The DIRFloortime® Training Program offers courses that vary in duration and depth of knowledge. These courses include workshops, introductory courses, and advanced courses. The program is designed to accommodate individuals with varying educational backgrounds and experience levels. According to the Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning (ICDL), there are no college or university education prerequisites to take the introductory courses or to earn a DIRFloortime Assistant (DFA) certificate. However, specific degree requirements may apply to some advanced courses [2].

Certificate Levels

The DIRFloortime® Certificate Program offers four professional levels of certification: Basic Certificate (DIR-Basic), Certificate of Proficiency (DIR-Proficient), Advanced Certificate (DIR-Advanced), and Expert Certificate (DIR-Expert). Each level has specific course requirements and assessment rubrics for completion. The certificate program allows individuals to progress through different levels as they gain expertise and experience in the Floortime approach [2].

One of the entry-level certificates is the DIRFloortime Assistant (DFA) certificate. The DFA certificate is designed for individuals, often paraprofessionals, who provide DIR-informed interactions with clients. There are two routes to becoming a DFA: a 20-hour training program requiring renewal every three years, or a 40-hour training program resulting in a DIRFloortime Basic Certificate that does not require renewal.

For professionals looking to fast-track their certification, there is an option to complete the DIRFloortime Advanced Certificate program in 4 months instead of the traditional 12-month program. This fast-track option is available for licensed professionals in certain fields who have already completed specific courses and meet the necessary criteria. The fast-track process involves completing additional courses, individual mentoring, and maintaining active participation in the program [2].

By completing the appropriate courses and attaining the necessary certificates, individuals can develop the knowledge and skills required to become competent Floortime therapists. These training programs provide a comprehensive understanding of the Floortime approach, developmental milestones, and professional certifications associated with this therapeutic method.

Cost and Duration

When considering becoming a Floortime therapist, it's important to understand the cost and duration associated with the necessary training and certification. Let's explore the program fees and fast-track options available.

Program Fees

The cost of becoming an Advanced level provider in the DIRFloortime® Training Program can vary, and prices are subject to change. Assuming successful completion of each course the first time, the program fee for the Advanced level is approximately $2,564 USD. It's important to note that additional costs, such as textbooks or materials, may apply and should be considered when budgeting for the training program.

Fast-Track Options

For licensed or Master's degree level professionals in certain fields, there is an opportunity to fast-track the DIRFloortime Advanced Certificate. The fast-track option allows professionals to become an Advanced level professional in just 4 months, compared to the traditional 12-month program. This option requires completion of specific courses, individual mentoring, and active participation in the program. It is designed to expedite the training process for those who meet the necessary criteria.

Professionals who choose the fast-track option must have completed specific courses and meet the eligibility criteria. By completing the required courses, receiving individual mentoring, and actively participating in the program, professionals can accelerate their journey to becoming an Advanced level provider.

It's important to note that fees and eligibility criteria may vary based on the specific training program and the location in which it is offered. It is recommended to reach out to the training program provider directly for the most up-to-date information on program fees and fast-track options.

By understanding the cost and duration associated with becoming a Floortime therapist, individuals can make informed decisions and plan accordingly. Whether opting for the traditional program or exploring the fast-track options, the training and certification process will equip professionals with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively implement Floortime therapy in their practice.

Implementation and Practice

Once you have the necessary training and knowledge to become a Floortime therapist, it's essential to understand how to apply Floortime in practice and the importance of parental involvement.

Applying Floortime

Floortime, as an intervention technique used in the DIR/Floortime model, involves guiding the child through the developmental milestones by following their lead through play. It aims to facilitate the mastery of developmental milestones by building on the child's current skills to create more complex circles of communication.

During Floortime sessions, it is crucial to create a calm environment, whether at home or in a professional setting. Sessions typically range from two to five hours a day, allowing for ample time for interaction and engagement with the child [5]. Playing on the floor with the child not only leads to gains in motor development but also plays a crucial role in the development of social and emotional skills.

To effectively implement Floortime, it is important to:

  • Establish a calm and safe environment for the child.
  • Get down on the floor with the child and engage in play that follows their lead.
  • Observe and join the child in their preferred activities, gradually expanding on their interests.
  • Encourage back-and-forth interactions, taking turns in play and communication.
  • Focus on the child's emotional experiences and help them express their feelings.
  • Use the power of play to foster communication, problem-solving, and social skills.
  • Provide opportunities for the child to engage with typically developing peers in a preschool setting.

Parental Involvement

Family involvement is a significant component of Floortime, as it allows for the generalization of skills across different settings and promotes consistency in the child's developmental progress. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to participate in Floortime sessions and receive training to support their child's growth and development.

Parents play a crucial role in reinforcing the skills learned during Floortime sessions in their day-to-day interactions with their child. They can create opportunities for play and engagement, provide emotional support, and continue to facilitate open communication. By actively participating in their child's Floortime journey, parents can help their child thrive and make progress in their developmental milestones.

It is important to note that the frequency and duration of Floortime sessions may vary based on individual needs. Proponents of Floortime recommend implementing the therapy in 20-minute blocks of time for six to ten sessions per day to effectively support children with autism in their development.

By applying Floortime techniques and involving parents in the therapeutic process, Floortime therapists can make a positive impact on the developmental progress and overall well-being of children with autism.

Research and Efficacy

When it comes to the use of Floortime therapy for autism spectrum disorders (ASD), research findings are currently limited and lack empirical validity. The available studies have mainly focused on training parents and therapists to implement Floortime interventions and evaluating the fidelity of the training on the interventions. However, to date, none of the studies have assessed the effects of Floortime on standardized measures of development or language.

Limited Research Findings

The current body of research on Floortime therapy for ASD is limited in several ways. The studies conducted so far lack experimental control and empirical validity. They primarily examine the effectiveness of training programs for parents and therapists in implementing Floortime interventions rather than directly evaluating the impact of Floortime on the core diagnostic features of ASD. While these studies provide valuable insights into the training process, they do not provide comprehensive evidence of the therapy's efficacy.

Future Studies Needed

To establish a stronger scientific foundation for Floortime therapy, future research is necessary. It is crucial to conduct studies that assess the effects of Floortime on standardized measures of development and language, as well as compare the outcomes of Floortime with other established treatments for ASD. Objective measurements of treatment effects will enable a better understanding of the therapy's impact on the core features of ASD and its potential as a standalone or complementary intervention.

As research continues to evolve, it is important for individuals considering Floortime therapy, including therapists, parents, and caregivers, to stay informed about the latest developments. This allows them to make well-informed decisions and understand the current evidence base for Floortime as a treatment for children with ASD.

For more information about Floortime therapy, its benefits, and how it compares to other interventions, you can explore our articles on what is Floortime therapy for autism?, Floortime therapy vs. ABA therapy for autism, benefits of Floortime therapy for autism, and who invented Floortime therapy for autism?.


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