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Stage 1 - Postgraduate Certificate in Therapeutic Play Skills (Stage I of MA in Practice Based Play Therapy)

The Certificate Courses in Play Therapy have been  accredited by PTUK & PTI . Courses delivered in the UK are validated for academic standards by University of Chichester, as part of the MA in Practice Based Play Therapy programme run in a collaborative partnership with APAC. The academic award is made by University of Chichester.

University College Cork is 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.


Obtain a Grant to do our Post Graduate Certificate in Therapeutic Play Skills Level 9 Training with APAC (Academy of Play and Child Psychotherapy) in-conjunction with UCC (University College Cork)

If you require financial aid for your educational pursuits, the Irish Social Welfare offers a Training Support Grant that could potentially assist you. To check if you meet the eligibility criteria, kindly visit their website and reach out to one of their friendly case officers who will be happy to guide you through the process. It’s important to work with the Dept of Social Protection, we cannot guarantee any individual will be approved for this grant.

If you are seeking financial assistance for your educational endeavours, you may explore the Training Support Grant offered by the Irish Social Welfare. This grant has the potential to provide valuable support for your educational expenses. To determine if you meet the eligibility criteria, we recommend visiting their official website and reaching out to one of their approachable case officers. They will gladly assist you in understanding the application process.

It’s important to keep in mind that while we encourage collaboration with the Department of Social Protection and believe that the Training Support Grant can be a valuable resource, we cannot guarantee that every individual’s application will be approved. The final decision rests with the relevant authorities, and eligibility is subject to their criteria and evaluation. We recommend that you explore this opportunity and apply if you meet the requirements.


Certificate Courses Dates

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

Several intakes per year. To submit an application, please click here


Block 1

Block 2

Block 3

Block 4

Block 5


Salomons Estate, Broomhill Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN3 0TG

05/01/24 – 07/01/24

08/03/24 – 10/03/24

17/05/24 – 19/05/24

28/06/24 – 30/06/24

13/09/24 – 15/09/24

Engineers House, Clifton Down, Bristol

19/01/24 – 21/01/24

08/03/24 – 10/03/24

17/05/24 – 19/05/24

05/07/24 – 07/07/24

20/09/24 – 22/09/24

Etc venues, Chancery Lane, London

26/01/24 – 28/01/24

08/03/24 – 10/03/24

10/05/24 – 12/05/24

28/06/24 – 30/06/24

20/09/24 – 22/09/24

Moor Hall Hotel, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands

15/03/24 – 17/03/24

03/05/24 – 05/05/24

12/07/24 – 14/07/24

06/09/24 – 08/09/24

01/11/24 – 03/11/24

Crowne Plaza Belfast, Belfast BT8 7XP

12/04/24 – 14/04/24

21/06/24 – 23/06/24

06/09/24 – 08/09/24

15/11/24 – 17/11/24

10/01/25 – 12/01/25


Talbot Hotel Stillorgan, Stillorgan Road, Co Dublin A94 V6K5 Ireland

26/01/24 – 28/01/24

12/04/24 – 14/04/24

26/07/24 – 28/07/24

11/10/24 – 13/10/24

06/12/24 – 08/12/24

Raheen Woods Hotel, Raheen, Athenry, Co. Galway, H65 E443, Ireland

08/03/24 – 10/03/24

12/04/24 – 14/04/24

24/05/24 – 26/05/24

13/09/24 – 15/09/24

27/09/24 – 29/09/24

Cork, Ireland

01/07/24 – 15/07/24


Regal Kowloon Hotel, Hong Kong

South Africa

Creative Corner SC Mansion, Bangkok 10110 Thailand

02/02/24 – 04/02/24

16/02/24 – 18/02/24

01/03/24 – 03/03/24

15/03/24 – 17/03/24

29/03/24 – 31/03/24



16/02/24 – 22/02/24




South Africa


Designed For

The Certificate Courses in Play Therapy are 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
  • Psychiatrists

Designed To

The Certificate Courses have 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 courses are the first part of the programme leading to an MA in Practice Based Play Therapy.

Certificate Courses may also be undertaken as a ‘stand alone’ course.


An enlightened approach to coping with children’s difficulties

Our core model is integrative holistic making the Certificate Courses in Play Therapy 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 Methods

The Certificate Courses are 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.

Learning Objectives

The overall purpose of our Certificate Courses 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 aged 4 -13 years old 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

Entry Requirements

The entry requirements for the Certificate Courses in Play Therapy are as follows:

All students who undertake any of the APAC courses (with the exception of the One Day Introduction to Play Therapy course) will be required to apply for a suitability check as part of the application process.

  • UK – a level 6 Honours degree in a child- or Arts related field
  • Ireland – a Level 8 qualification in a child-related field
  • Rest of the World – equivalent of a UK level 6 Honours degree in a child-related field
  • Minimum of 2 years of prior experience working with children up to the age of 18. This can be in voluntary or paid
  • Where the student does not hold a degree, they may be able to apply through the Recognised Prior Learning route (RPL). See the APAC Recognition of Prior Learning Policy for more details.
  • A current membership with Play Therapy UK/Play Therapy International will be required upon enrolment on the course. The Register of Play and Creative Arts Therapists will be updated accordingly. ‘Trainee’ status will be awarded on enrolment, followed by ‘Certified Practitioner in Therapeutic Play Skills’ status on completion of this course.
  • Written online references are also required from both the current employer and a character reference.
  • This course is mandatory to attend in order to progress to the Postgraduate Diploma in Play Therapy (Stage 2 of Master of Arts programme).
  • Course Requirements can be found here: Certificate Courses in Play Therapy – APAC

Competence in English Language (All courses)

Teaching and assessment (unless stated otherwise) will be carried out in English. Therefore, applicants must be competent in spoken and written English language. If students are not native speakers, they are required to have IELTS 6.0, with no modules below 5.5, or equivalent.

Computer literacy (All courses except some CPD courses)

All students are expected to have:

  • Basic computer literacy skills;
  • Access to a laptop or PC with internet connection; and
  • The ability to use emails.


International Students

Our UK courses (Postgraduate Certificate in Therapeutic Play Skills and Postgraduate Diploma in Play Therapy) are not open to international students who are not resident in the UK/Europe. For non-UK nationals, evidence of a British Residence Permit (BRP) or the relevant visa is required. Visitors to the UK will not be accepted onto the course.

International students can apply for our Summer Schools in France and Ireland.


With regard to the structure of the Certificate Course, in the UK this usually comprises five, three-day weekends of experiential taught time, spread out over a period of roughly nine months (therefore approximately 8-10 weeks apart) and during this time students are asked to complete a number of written assignments. After the second weekend, students have 20 months to complete 100 Clinical Hours at the end of which they submit a Portfolio.

We also offer Summer and Winter Schools in UK, France and Ireland. The structure of the Certificate Programme here comprises 15 consecutive days of experiential training, with students asked to complete a number of written assignments in the months following their return home. Students will also have approximately 20 months after the training to complete 100 Clinical Hours at the end of which they submit a portfolio.


Post graduate Certificate of Therapeutic Play Skills with 60 ‘M’ points


Selected from APAC’s faculty.


For the Postgraduate Certificate in Therapeutic Play Skills (Stage 1 of MA in Practice Based Play Therapy), the full cost of the course is currently £3,765 which can be broken down as follows

  • Your deposit of £300 will need to be paid in full on confirmation you meet the entry criteria before the interview
  • Your 1st instalment of £1905 for certificate fees (made up of 50% course fees £1500, university fee £370 and the Healing Path book £35 (the latter two will be included in your first invoice) can be paid in instalments. This can be broken down into 2 separate instalments. Please note that the full cost of £1905 needs to be paid six to eight weeks prior to the course commencement date.
  • Your membership fee of £60 will need to be paid in full to Play Therapy UK – please click here for information on grades and fees
  • Your 2nd instalment of £1500 can be paid in instalments. This can be broken down into 2 separate instalments. Please note the full cost of £1500 will need to be paid two weeks prior to Block 3 of your training.
  • £250 – £450 to build your Play Kit
  • We would also recommend factoring in your supervision costs with a PTUK Supervisor which you will require whilst undertaking your placement. These charges would be payable directly to the Supervisor and do vary, however if you work on the basis of between £40 and £50 per hour, this should give you a reasonable estimate. You will require around 20 hours of supervision over the course of your placement.
  • This payment option is only available for those booking after 11th January 2023
  • Registration with the Information Commissioners Office – please see the ICO website for further details
  • Enhanced DBS/ Access NI/ Garda Vetting/ Scottish PVG Check under the role of Trainee Play Therapist or Play Therapist – please email for information on the associated fees
  • The University Registration Fee covers registration with Chichester 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.
  • Course fees are not inclusive of accommodation or travel; onsite bed and breakfast accommodation is available at the majority of our Training Centres, but this must be booked directly with the Venue and will incur an additional charge.
  • Information on the costs associated with courses delivered in Republic of Ireland can be found here.

Certificate Courses 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
  • 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.

Chichester University are marked LBU
Venues in Ireland validated by (UCC) University College Cork and marked UCC
Click here for UCC details