UHV faculty member uses play time as counseling tool

Elsa Soto Leggett

A healthy mix of work and play is important in life. Luckily for Elsa Soto Leggett, the two go hand in hand.

As assistant professor for the University of Houston-Victoria School of Education & Human Development, Leggett teaches play therapy, a counseling technique that uses toys, drawings, sand and more to relate to patients.

“We developed these classes over the last year or so, and it’s gone over well,” said Leggett, who is on track to becoming a registered play therapist. “The students who have taken the classes come out loving it.”

Helping others has always been a passion for the Houston native, a Licensed Professional Counselor and school counselor. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Texas Southern University and later moved on to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, where she earned her master’s and doctorate.

Leggett taught at Texas Southern University before joining the UHV faculty in 2008. She works out of UH Sugar Land, where UHV offers many of the degree programs.

She said the changes she’s seen with the program through the years are exciting. Not only did play therapy join the mix, but plans are in the works to introduce a college counseling licensure program.

A new cohort with the Fort Bend Independent School District, which offers special classes for those in the district interested in school counseling, is another new endeavor.

“This allows them to work more directly with their schools,” said Leggett, explaining that certain classes require 600 hours of field work. “And the district gets a more homegrown type of school counselor to fit its specific needs.”

As program coordinator, Leggett admitted her work and the ongoing changes keep her busy. Factor in her roles as president of the Texas Association for Counselor Education and Supervision and president-elect of the Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling, and that’s even less free time.

Nonetheless, Leggett makes her family a priority. The mother of two said she enjoys spending time not only with her husband and two teenage children, but also her parents, who live in their neighborhood.

“It’s been a real blessing to have them so close,” said Leggett, who also does work with the Methodist church where her husband is a pastor.

Looking ahead, she is excited about what the future holds. She expects the counseling program to continue to grow.

A personal victory also is in Leggett’s future. She is scheduled to earn tenure in September and be promoted to associate professor.

“I’m excited,” she said. “Good things are happening.”

The Faculty Feature is an online feature highlighting faculty members from each of the University of Houston-Victoria’s four schools. To nominate a faculty member, contact Paula Cobler, UHV interim director of marketing and communications, or call 361-570-4350.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Allison Miles 361-570-4342