At Rider, Banchs was introduced to play therapy and gained a credential as a Registered Play Therapist through coursework developed and delivered by Rider associate professor Dr. Yi-Ju Cheng. Banchs says this directly prepared her to excel and provide services to the clients she worked with in her graduate fieldwork experiences and current position.
As a student, Banchs co-developed and co-facilitated a support group focused on navigating the civil turmoil and unrest in America while emphasizing advocacy for marginalized populations with alumna Sravya Gummaluri '20 and Rider faculty.
Banchs had the opportunity to serve as president of Rho Upsilon Beta, Rider’s chapter of Chi Sigma Iota (CSI), the honor society of the counseling profession.
When looking for a graduate program, Demi Banchs, who had a goal of becoming a counselor/therapist to children impacted by developmental trauma, had two objectives in mind. She sought a program that would take a holistic approach to her training and one that offered courses in play therapy since she hoped to use this approach to therapy with her future client population. After an extensive search, she found that Rider University was the only school that could promise both.
While at Rider, Banchs juggled several personal and professional responsibilities on top of her studies, however, she credits her professors for their guidance, flexibility and support of her endeavors as a student and presently in her work as a full-time therapist and education coordinator.
Today, she fuses her passion for helping others, educational experiences and advanced training to provide specialized care to children and their families.
Read the Q&A below to learn more about Banchs' Rider experience:
What are you doing now?
I am currently a therapist and education coordinator at a group private practice in Marlton, NJ, — the Center for Counseling and Education. In my role as a therapist, I see children, adolescents and adults impacted by trauma, attachment disruptions, and neurodivergence.
Where I work, education is highly valued, encouraged and supported — it is even in the name! As the education coordinator, I have the privilege of developing and delivering quality Association for Play Therapy-approved play therapy workshops.
My colleagues are some of the best therapists I have ever met. I take pride in supporting my fellow Center for Counseling and Education therapists in their education goals, organizing peer consultation, professional development and networking opportunities, and developing and delivering a monthly newsletter to the play therapy community.
In addition, I am a registered play therapist, certified EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapist, certified trauma play therapist and supervisor, and licensed Circle of Security Parent Educator. I am also working towards a Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) certification.
As a student during the COVID-19 pandemic, who was newly married, navigating buying a house and trying to balance my work on top of the other education opportunities I was pursuing, my professors were always extremely understanding, flexible, and encouraging of my endeavors.”
What unique opportunities did you participate in at Rider that prepared you for your future?
At Rider, I co-developed and co-facilitated a support group focused on navigating the civil turmoil and unrest in America while emphasizing advocacy for marginalized populations with fellow Rider alumna Sravya Gummaluri ‘20. At the time, my professors, Dr. Aubrey Daniels and Dr. Eri Millrod provided Sravya and me with an abundance of support in navigating the complexities of running a support group during such difficult times and held a safe space for us so that we could hold a safe space for others.
I also had the opportunity to serve as president of Rho Upsilon Beta, Rider’s chapter of Chi Sigma Iota (CSI), the international and professional honor society for counseling students, counseling educators and professional counselors. Being part of Chi Sigma Iota prepared me for future leadership roles and allowed me to have a platform for advocacy during my time at Rider.
Today, Dr. Yi-Ju Cheng and Dr. Daniels, in addition to my Center for Counseling and Education family, continue to provide me with ongoing guidance and support as I navigate the complexities of my growth as a therapist and educator.
As a graduate student, how did your fieldwork experiences help to shape your career?
While at Rider, I completed a practicum and internship fieldwork experience. I did both placements in the same private practice — the Center for Counseling and Education, where I am currently employed.
As a practicum and intern therapist, I gained experience being a co-facilitator for a group, the primary therapist for a part-time caseload of 10-20 children and adolescents, practiced supervised play therapy, and delivered related workshops. Having the opportunity to deliver these workshops sparked my passion for educating fellow child therapists and play therapists. Today, I continue to develop and deliver workshops to the Center for Counseling and Education and other child play therapists.
Being held, supported and nurtured by the wisdom, experience, and encouragement of my practicum advisor and registered play therapist, Dr. Yi-Ju Cheng, and a community of registered play therapists and supervisors at the Center for Counseling and Education, I had the instrumental foundation to grow exponentially.
Dr. Yi-Ju Cheng and Dr. Aubrey Daniels, in addition to my Center for Counseling and Education family, continue to provide me with ongoing guidance and support as I navigate the complexities of my growth as a therapist and educator.”
What is the key takeaway from your Rider experience?
If you have a seed of passion, please do what it takes at all costs to nurture it. When doing my work in metaphor, I am always brought back to nature, specifically a tree in a forest. My life experiences planted the seed, my incredible husband provided the stable environment, Rider provided the soil, and my Center for Counseling and Education family and support network of incredible therapists provided nurturance of warmth, hydration, and nutrient-rich support that helped me continue to grow. I am forever grateful to Rider for providing me with the soil needed to sustain life and provide my foundation as a therapist.
No matter how hard I work, my mission in life could never be fulfilled without the help of others. There is nothing that I want more than for this world to be a place where children and all humans feel physically and emotionally safe, loved, nurtured, understood, and accepted.
Please note that Rider’s Ed.S. in Counseling Services program is currently inactive. Learn more about our current Master of Arts in Counseling Services, which offers four concentration areas to focus your degree in, including play therapy.
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