Play Therapy Certificate Training Course

Several intakes per year Apply to 01825 761143 or Application Form (Word or Pdf)

Certificate in Therapeutic Play Skills - in BristolCambridgeshireDublin and CorkEdinburgh, the LeedsManchesterTunbridge Wells and the South of France.  New in 2010: Hong KongSydney NSW Australia and Hamilton New Zealand.

We are proud to announce APAC's Post Graduate Certificate running in collaborative partnership with NUI Galway. Summer School for 15 days starts July 2018. Click For More Details.

This play therapy course has been  accredited by PTUK, PTI . Courses delivered in the UK are validated for academic standards by Leeds Beckett (formerly Leeds Metropolitan) University, as part of the MA in Practice Based Play Therapy programme run in a collaborative partnership with APAC. The academic award is made by Leeds Beckett (formerly Leeds Metropolitan) University.

The National University of Ireland, Galway, are responsible for the management of academic quality and the post graduate awards for these courses delivered in the Republic of Ireland. 

The professional award which enables successful students to practice clinically is made by PTUK, or for overseas students by PTI. Successful participants will be placed as 'Certified Practitioners in Therapeutic Play Skills' on the Register - Play Therapy UK's Register of Play and Creative Arts Therapists which is accredited by the Professional Standards Authority.


Designed To

The course is designed for anyone with experience of children or adolescents, who either works or intends to work therapeutically with them including:

  • Counsellors
  • Psychotherapists
  • Clinical Psychologists
  • Primary School Teachers/Assistants
  • Nurses
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Paediatricians
  • Nursery School Teachers/Assistants
  • Social Workers
  • Play School Teachers/Assistants
  • Care Home Staff
  • Adoption/Foster Agency Workers
  • Psychiatrists

The course has been designed to:

  • Enhance your career/professional skills
  • Increase your satisfaction in working with children
  • Give you the skills to help children develop their emotional literacy and overcome learning difficulties
  • Give you the skills to alleviate behaviour and mental health problems
  • Assist your own personal development
  • Provide you with the Profession Structure Model competencies defined by PTUK to work with individual children who have slight to moderate problems

The Certificate course is the first part of the programme leading to an MA in Practice Based Play Therapy. 

It may also be undertaken as a 'stand alone' course.



Our core model is integrative holistic making the course unique in integrating both non directive and directive approaches to play therapy using a wide range of creative arts media. The programme content is based upon the theory and practice of neuroscience, humanistic psychology, particularly that of Virginia Axline ("Dibs In Search of Self"), and Carl Rogers and the Gestalt play therapy approach of Violet Oaklander. It recognises contributions made by others in the 20th century such as John Bowlby, Carl Jung, Margaret Lowenfeld, Margaret Mahler, Donald Winnicott, etc. It also places importance on the spiritual aspect of human development. Opportunities for personal reflection and all forms of creativity will enrich your experience of the course.

The lives of children in the present day are highly regulated and controlled. Non-directive play therapy offers a child the opportunity of making choices and taking responsibility for them; expressing him/herself freely; being accepted unconditionally; having his/her deepest feelings respected and accepted. For these reasons their play is not interpreted and no judgements are made.

Such freedoms may only be obtained within the provision of a strong framework. Therefore the adult takes responsibility for the safety of the child, themselves and the environment. Within these constraints, the child has complete freedom to choose.

Time boundaries are also considered to be very important thus adding a sense of security by adhering to beginnings and ends. In this way the time within a session becomes timeless and the child's imagination is set free to explore and recreate his/her experiences and to create and make his/her own world.

There are, however, a number of cases where the non directive approach needs to be complemented by other approaches. These are introduced at appropriate points. The main items in the 'Play Therapy Tool-Kit' are taught and put into practice.

Learning Objectives

The overall purpose is to enable participants to practice safely and effectively using therapeutic play skills in a variety of settings to provide emotional support to individual children with slight to moderate problems. Upon successful completion of the course each participant will have gained:

  • A sound understanding of the principles underlying play therapy and the appropriate use of techniques - the play therapy tool-kit
  • Practical skills for running therapeutic play sessions with individual children
  • An ability to assess children's needs and organise the provision of therapeutic play facilities
  • An appreciation of the ethical issues
  • Increased confidence in using therapeutic play with children and adolescents
  • The counselling, therapeutic and practical skills to enable you to carry out therapeutic play
  • An understanding of the ethical considerations
  • Awareness of your own process and development
  • Theoretical Knowledge of child development and child psychology

Course Structure 

Module 1 - Orientation to Setting Up and Development of Practice Based Play Therapy within an Integrative Holistic Model

You will learn how to:

  • Use non-directive play therapy skills through sandplay
  • Set up a safe play room and a therapeutic play service
  • Recognise and be able to develop the thinking and skills required for studying at Masters level
  • Successfully establish and assess therapeutic relationships
  • Be able to communicate with children using music and movement therapy skills
  • Analyse, present, apply and appraise the principles of the therapeutic play continuum in the context of a spectrum of needs
  • Function within the essential practical, ethical, child protection and legal aspects of working therapeutically with children including stipulated health and safety procedures and under the auspices of clinical governance
  • Understand PTI/PTUK standards of training and practice within the current climate of regulatory frameworks
  • Start to assess the impact of current research, including your own practice data on healing children's emotional, behaviour and mental health difficulties

The module starts with an introduction to play therapy principles, the latest outcomes research and putting non-directive play into practice. In addition a thorough coverage of the course requirements and what is needed to start working safely with the children is provided including confidential record keeping., safety aspects and keeping boundaries.

Music builds upon a child's curiosity for sounds and sound making that emerges during childhood. You will be given the music therapy skills to communicate and build relationships with your clients.

During this module you will also be given an introduction to movement therapy using the Laban analysis method to understand the body, dynamics, space and relationships that develop and to communicate with the child during your sessions.

Module 2 - Using Symbolic Play Therapy Tools and Metaphor Safely

You will learn how to:

  • Incorporate the use of art (drawing, painting, collage etc), puppets, therapeutic storytelling and clay in your practice
  • Demonstrate a wide ranging knowledge, application and practice in relevant aspects of child development theory
  • Appraise therapeutic interventions with children who have attachment/trauma based problems eg foster care situations
  • Be equipped with and have an up-to-date knowledge of child protection procedures
  • Assess and successfully practise therapeutic play interventions with children who have conduct, fear, anxiety, mood, sleeping, grief and bereavement problems

A comparative approach is taken in teaching child development and attachment theory. This will enable you to relate the children's issues and their processes during therapeutic play to a theoretical framework. Therapeutic story telling is based upon the theories of Milton Erickson and incorporates principles of CBT and NLP. You will be taught how to compose a story to achieve a particular therapeutic objective. Theoretical, as well as practical and experiential work, is undertaken so that you will be able to apply and understand work with images produced by the children in drawing, painting, clay and in sand trays. The use and making of puppets and how to use them, for example to control anger, is facilitated.

Module 3 - Using Expressive Arts Therapies as a Means of Processing and Reaching the Unconscious

You will learn how to:

  • Articulate and apply the relevant principles of neuroscience to working with children and their parent/carers
  • Integrate and evaluate sandplay and creative visualisation (guided imagery) as therapeutic play interventions
  • Assess and work with children who have learning and communication difficulties, attention and over-activity problems (including ADHD)
  • Examine, apply and debate the necessity and impact of safe endings within therapeutic work

One of the reasons why therapeutic play is successful is that it reaches the unconscious parts of the brain whereas talking therapies mainly address the conscious regions. The links between neuroscience and psychological theories will be explored.

This module enables students to gain an experiential understanding of sandplay therapy skills as an 'X-ray of the soul'.

Creative visualisation will help you and your clients to centre themselves and provides a technique to help children anchor, nurture and cherish themselves. Relaxation exercises are often a vital prelude to other interventions.

Basic statistical methods are introduced to enable you to present and analyse your case study, clinical governance and understand research data.

Learning Methods

The course is divided into 5 x 3 day blocks forming 3 modules.

Participants will learn through working with other members of the course about the roles and responsibilities of the therapeutic relationship. There will be tutorials on theory but formal teaching and lecturing will be kept to an essential minimum.

Learning will be experiential and collaborative using pair, group work, role-play and case presentations. Homework reading and other assignments will provide new information and consolidation of material from the experiential work encountered within the weekends. Assignments will be subject of group discussions the following weekend.

100 hours of supervised clinical work with children is required as a main learning method.


15 days consisting of 5 x 3 day modules (Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays) spread over 7 - 9 months. Alternatively as a 15 day intensive course at the Summer School in La Mouline, South of France and in Hong Kong , Sydney, Australia, Hamilton , New Zealand and Ireland


Post graduate Certificate of Therapeutic Play Skills with 60 'M' points


Click here for NUI Galway details

Leeds Beckett (formerly Leeds Metropolitan) University are marked LBU

Venues in Ireland validated by National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway and marked NUI

East of England

  • Buckden TowersLBU, Buckden Towers, High Street, Buckden, Cambridgeshire, PE19 5TA 

South East England

West Midlands

West of England & Wales

North of England


Northern Ireland


For Garda vetting please contact


  • La MoulineLBU St Genest de Contest, Tarn, Midi Pyrenees, France

    and other locations upon request

Faculty / Facilitators

Selected from APAC's faculty.


  • UK Courses - £3150 plus University Registration fee - £370
  • Irish Courses - €3750 including University Registration fee 

You can pay online at Play Therapy Shop


The additional registration fee shown above is to register with the University for this course as a part of the MA in Practise Based Play Therapy programme. There will be additional University registration fees if you subsequently  proceed to the Diploma and MA stages.

Bed and breakfast accommodation is available, at extra cost, on site at Buckden Towers, Marino Conference Centre, Wentworth Castle and Salomons.  Rooms are limited in number so please book early direct with the location.


Course Venue1st Block2nd Block3rd Block4th Block5th Block
Greece11-06-21 03-09-21 12-12-21 14-01-22 18-03-22
Engineers House11-02-11 08-10-21 10-12-21 01-04-22 01-07-22
Bel Rosen
Brook Mollington Banastre15-10-21 10-12-21 04-03-22 06-05-22 01-07-22
La Mouline
NUI Galway
Slaley Hall01-10-21 10-12-21 04-03-22 06-05-22 24-06-22
College of Allied Educators23-09-21 11-11-21 20-01-22 10-03-22 07-04-22
etc. Venues Victoria04-02-21 22-04-21 24-09-21 19-11-21 24-06-22
Pinewood on Wilmslow21-05-21 16-07-21 24-09-21 12-11-21 04-02-22
Poland23-04-21 11-06-21 03-09-21 15-10-21 03-12-21
College of Allied Educators30-09-21 18-11-21 09-12-21 24-02-22 21-04-22
Salomons Estate01-10-21 10-12-21 11-02-22 06-05-22 01-07-22

Dates are correct at the time of publishing but maybe subject to change so please check with the office on 01825 761143 before booking.

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