Stage 2 - Certificate Courses in Therapeutic Play Skills

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

The Play Therapy certificate courses have 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 Certificate courses 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

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 Certificater Courses 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.

Entry Requirements

The entry requirements for the Certificate Course are as follows:

  • A level 6 Honours Degree in a related subject
  • A minimum of two years’ experience either in paid or voluntary work in child related employment

However, students who don’t meet these criteria can potentially access the Course via our Recognised Prior Learning Route which involves the completion of five selected written assignments prior to commencing the Course. In order to be eligible to apply through this route, students will need to hold a Level 5 qualification in a child-based subject plus a minimum of five years’ experience working with children.

Once you have been accepted on to a course all students are required to obtain a new DBS under the role of trainee Play Therapist.

Information regarding the entry criteria for students applying for Certificate courses delivered in the Republic of Ireland can be found here.

Please note that we are unable to offer places on our Post Graduate Certificate in Therapeutic Play Skills Course to students already enrolled onto another programme.

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 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

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 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 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.


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, New Zealand and Ireland


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

Certificate Courses Venues

Leeds Beckett (formerly Leeds Metropolitan) University are marked LBU
Venues in Ireland validated by National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway and marked NUI
Click here for NUI Galway details

East of England

South East England

West Midlands

  • Moor Hall HotelLBU, Moor Hall Hotel, Moor Hall Drive, Four Oaks, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands B75 6LN

West of England & Wales

North of England


Northern Ireland


For Garda vetting please contact


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

And other locations upon request.

Faculty / Facilitators

Selected from APAC’s faculty.


Please see below a breakdown of the costs associated with the Certificate Course in the UK

  • Course Fee of £3,300
  • University Registration Fee (Leeds Beckett University) of £370
  • Purchase of the ‘Healing Path with Children’ Book at £35.00
  • Membership to Play Therapy UK – please click here for information on grades and fees
  • Registration with the Information Commissioners Office – please see the ICO website for further details
  • DBS Check under the role of Trainee Play Therapist – please email for information on the associated fees

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.

The University Registration Fee covers registration with Leeds Beckett 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 Dates

Course Venue1st Block2nd Block3rd Block4th Block5th Block
Crowne Plaza, Belfast30th September - 2nd October 2022 25th - 27th November 202220th - 22nd January 202324th - 26th March 202316th - 18th June 2023
Moor Hall Hotel,
14th - 16th October 20229th - 11th December 202210th - 12th February 2023 12th - 14th May 202321st - 23rd July 2023
The Cambridge Belfry
30th September - 2nd October 2022 2nd - 4th December 20223rd - 5th February 2023 21st - 23rd April 2023 23rd - 25th June 2023
Hilton Edinburgh Carlton, Edinburgh8th - 10th April 2022 1st - 3rd July 20229th - 11th September 2022 25th - 27th November 202213th - 15th January 2023
etc venues Chancery Lane, London 23rd - 25th September 2022 11th - 13th November 2022 20th - 22nd January 2023 24th - 26th March 2023 9th - 11th June 2023
Salomons Estate, Tunbridge Wells7th - 9th October 20229th - 11th December 202224th - 26th February 2023 21st - 23rd April 20237th - 9th July 2023
Ditton Manor, Slough, Nr Windsor20th - 22nd May 202215th - 17th July 2022 30th September - 2nd October 202225th - 27th November 2022 3rd - 5th February 2023
The Talbot Hotel Stillorgan, Dublin
(15 Day Programme)
24th May - 7th June 2022 N/AN/AN/AN/A
La Mouline, St-Genest-de-Contest, France23rd July - 6th August 2022N/AN/AN/AN/A
Bangalore, India23rd – 27th July 202222nd – 26th October 202211th – 15th February 2023N/AN/A
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia24th - 28th June 202228th October - 1st November 2022 17th - 21st February 2023N/AN/A
Thailand2nd - 4th September 202216th - 18th September 202230th September - 2nd October 2022 14th - 16th October 2022 28th - 30th October 2022

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