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Stage 4 – Advanced Diploma Course

in Playtherapy & Specialist Courses

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Enabling Potential Brochure

A complete guide to training for carers in play and creative arts therapies


  • 12-month course
  • 5 x Workshop tutorials
  • Practice-based evidence
  • Live and online
  • Course Fees are £3,400

This Advanced Diploma Course in Play Therapy is designed for all Counsellors trained at level 5 in working with adults who want to work with Children and Young People and who want the title of Play and Creative Arts Counsellor of Children and Young People.

An Enlightened Approach to Coping with Children’s Difficulties

Our core model, which is integrative holistic, has evolved since 1998 from more traditional and less effective models. It makes the advanced diploma course in play therapy unique in integrating: non directive and directive approaches; working with both conscious and unconscious processes; the use of a wide range of creative arts media and the integration of research with practice.

The programme content is based upon the theory and practice of neurobiology, humanistic psychology,particularly that of Virginia Axline (“Dibs In Search of Self”), Carl Rogers and the Gestalt Play Therapy approach of Violet Oaklander. It recognises contributions made by others in the 20th century such as Barnes, Bowlby, Erikson, Freud, Jung, Lowenfeld, Mahler, Klein, Piaget,Pavlov, Vygotsky, 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.

Our model 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 endings. In our model the non-directive approach is complemented by other approaches. These are introduced at appropriate points. The main items in the ‘Creative Arts Tool-Kit’ are taught and put into practice.

The overall purpose of the course is to enable participants to practice safely and effectively integrating counselling skills with play and creative arts skills in a variety of settings, to provide emotional support for individual children.

The APAC Advanced Diploma Course in Play Therapy commences with an orientation to setting up a creative therapy practice using non-directive play which enables you to work straight away as a trainee on a one to one basis with children who have slight to moderate social, emotional and behaviour difficulties.

During the Advanced Diploma Course in Play Therapy you will learn how to use symbolic Play Therapy tools and metaphor safely, building upon knowledge gained through teaching and practice.You will acquire a sound working knowledge of ethical principles, child protection issues, child development, neurobiology, attachment theories that underpin practice as well as sound records management including the latest data protection requirements.

Assessment is based on a careful balance of a growing mastery of the theoretical perspectives that the programme offers, the development of greater professional confidence, and the application of competencies in practice.

It’s serious learning – but you’ll have a great deal of fun as well!

The Advanced Diploma Course has been designed to:


  • Enhance your career/professional skills
  • Meet the requirements of registration as a health professional through a
  • register recognised by the Professional Standards Authority
  • Increase your satisfaction in working with children
  • Provide you with the skills to help children develop their emotional literacy
  • Provide you with the skills to alleviate behaviour and mental health problems
  • Assist your own personal development
  • Provide you with the Profession Structure Model competencies defined by
  • PTI/PTUK to work with individual children who have slight to moderate problems


15 days normally over a 12-month period, divided into 5 blocks of 3 days in the UK. (Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays).

The Advanced Diploma Course in Play Therapy is at Level 6, so applicants need to display maturity and an ability to study at this level. A counselling qualification at least to level 5 or equivalent.

All candidates will:

  • Have personal maturity commensurate with training as a Counsellor
  • Be currently working with children or have arranged to do so in a placement before the start of the course. This will enable you to apply theory to practice from the beginning. APAC can advise on obtaining a placement, if necessary
  • Have an agreed contract with an Accredited or an Approved Clinical Supervisor. APAC can advise on selecting one, if necessary
  • Have a working knowledge of the basic psychological theories, including at least one child development theoretical model. APAC can provide advice in this area if needed
  • Be a registrant of a PSA Accredited Register or the HCPC such as BACP, UKCP, NCS or equivalent register,at the start of the course in order that their work with children is governed by a relevant ethical framework
  • Have enhanced DBS/CRB clearance for work in the UK or an equivalent for any other country
  • For entry to our courses taught in English, have attained English Language level GCSE grade C and above, or IELTS 6.0 with no skill below 5.5, or an equivalent award
  • Be required to have basic computer literacy skills, have access to a PC with internet connection and able to use email – please consult APAC if you have any doubts in this area
In order to successfully pass the course, you will need to have:

  • 50 clinically supervised sessions with children, within 10 months of starting the course
  • Process Diary
  • A PowerPoint presentation showing the effectiveness of working with CYP using the creative Arts
  • Five written assignments, resulting from your training -equivalent to a total of 10,000 words
  • A case study of a client (4,000 words)

Have satisfactory reports from your clinical supervisor and placement APAC’s teaching faculty will be guiding, advising and checking on your progress throughout the course, if you need any help with the written or clinical work.

Other Requirements:

Clinical Supervision

You are required to present your work with the children to an approved clinical supervisor. 5 hours of group supervision are included in all courses. You will need to source a minimum of 10 further hours of clinical supervision depending on the course you are taking.

The cost of this is typically £35 per hour.

Course Attendance

85% attendance is required. A theme cannot be missed entirely.

Personal Therapy

Personal therapy is not required because of the experiential nature of the course. If, however, personal issues arise, that in the opinion of the Course Director or your Supervisor prevent safe working with the children,then personal therapy will become mandatory.

Participants in the Advanced Diploma Course in Play Therapy will learn through working with other members of the cohort as well as during their practice with children, 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 mainly 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 taught modules.

The taught part of the Advanced Diploma Course in Play therapy is normally run in blocks of three days over nine months. These are organised into three modules to conform to Chichester University’s validation standards.

Module 1 – Orientation to Setting Up Counselling Practice for CYP using Non-directive Play Therapy

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 Post Graduate 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
  • Be able to quality assure your work to Register standards
  • 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 CCYP 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 don’t have to have any musical skills because you will be given the music therapy skills to communicate and build relationships with your clients.

Module 2 – Re-orientating of Current Practice for Working with Children and Young People using the Integrative Holistic Model

You will learn how to:

  • Incorporate the use of art (drawing, painting, collage etc),puppets 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 their counselling sessions to a theoretical framework.

Theoretical, as well as practical and experiential work,is undertaken so that you will be able to apply and understand the 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 manage anger, is facilitated.

Module 3 – Integrating Talking Therapy with Creative Arts Therapy Skills

You will learn how to:

  • Articulate and apply the relevant principles of neurobiology to working with children and their parent/carers
  • Integrate and evaluate sand play 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 neurobiology and sychological theories will be explored.

This module enables students to gain an experiential understanding of sand Play Therapy skills. The use of creative arts media is often called an ‘X-ray of the soul’.

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


Advanced level 6 diploma from Chichester University with 60 credits

PTI/PTUK registration as a ‘Play and Creative Arts Counsellor of Children and Young People’

Professional Accreditation

APAC courses are also accredited and recognised by a number of other professional organisations. The British Council for Therapeutic Interventions With Children (BCTIWC) audits the processes used by PTUK to accredit the APAC courses. Play Therapy standards are ratified by PTI,through its affiliated organisations such as PTIrl (Ireland)and PTnz (New Zealand) and administers the standards on behalf of PTUK – click here for more.

Academic Validation

APAC’s Advanced Diploma in Counselling CYP using the Creative Arts is run in collaboration with, and accredited by Chichester University and in the rest of the UK according to demand: Antrim, Bournville (Birmingham),Bristol, Chester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Huntingdon, London Central, Manchester, Truro, Tunbridge Wells. As the degree awarding body the University has the responsibility for the academic standards of credit granted in its name and issues the overall awards.Work for all of our courses has to be submitted in the English language.

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