Certificate in Therapeutic Play Skills

Successful completion of this course provides the title Certified Practitioner in Therapeutic Play Skills on the PTUK register of Play and Creative Arts Therapists, accredited by the Professional Standards Authority. www.playtherapyregister.org.uk

This course has been clinically accredited by PTUK and PTI.

It is also validated at venues in the UK for academic standards by the Leeds Beckett (formerly Leeds Metropolitan) University as part of the MA in Practice based Play Therapy programme run in a collaborative partnership with APAC. At venues in the Republic of Ireland it is validated by and run in a partnership with the National University of Ireland.

Please click here for APAC’s full Career Guide and Brochure

Location Block 1 Block 2 Block 3 Block 4 Block 5
Northern College,
10th – 12th February 2023 5th – 7th May 2023 14th – 16th July 2023 29th September – 1st October 2023 24th – 26th November 2023
Crowne Plaza,
30th September – 2nd October 2022 25th – 27th November 2022 20th – 22nd January 2023 24th – 26th March 2023 16th – 18th June 2023
Moor Hall Hotel, Birmingham 14th – 16th October 2022 9th – 11th December 2022 10th – 12th February 2023 12th – 14th May 2023 21st – 23rd July 2023
The Cambridge Belfry,
30th September – 2nd October 2022 2nd – 4th December 2022 3rd – 5th February 2023 21st – 23rd April 2023 23th – 25th June 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
The Pinewood Hotel on Wilmslow,
4th – 6th November 2022 20th – 22nd January 2023 31st March – 2nd April 2023 23rd – 25th June 2023 8th – 10th September 2023
Salomons Estate,
Tunbridge Wells
7th – 9th October 2022  9th – 11th December 2022 24th – 26th February 2023 21st – 23rd April 2023 7th – 9th July 2023
Thailand 2nd – 4th September 2022 16th – 18th September 2022 30th September – 2nd October 2022 14th – 16th October 2022 28th – 30th October 2022

To submit an application, please click here


Selected from APAC’s faculty.


UK Courses – £3,300 plus University Registration Fee of £370

Irish Courses – €3,850 including University Registration Fee

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.

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.

Designed for

The course has been designed to:

  • Enhance your career/professional skills
  • Become registered as a Certified Practitioner in Therapeutic Play Skills on the
  • Register of Play and Creative Arts Therapists, accredited by the Professional Standards Authority.
  • Increase your satisfaction in working with children
  • Give you the skills to help children develop their emotional literacy
  • 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 programme leading to an MA in Practise Based Play Therapy. It is at stage 2 of the PTUK four stage training model.

It may be undertaken as a standalone course.


The course is unique in integrating both non directive and directive approaches to play therapy. The programme content is based upon the theory and practice of 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, Margaret Lowenfeld, Donald Winnicott, Rachel Pinney etc. It also places importance on the spiritual aspect of human development. Opportunities for meditation and all forms of creativity will enrich the contents 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 by 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 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 needs to be complemented by other approaches. For example working with terminally ill, bereaved, autistic children in organisational settings and short term work.

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 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 for 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 with 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 Descriptions – (The sequence and content may vary slightly from course to course)

Module 1Orientation 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 modules some of which will gain a CPD certificate in its own right for the skills learnt as above.

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.


15 days consisting of 5 x 3 day modules (Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays)


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 Towers LBU Buckden Towers, High Street, Buckden, Cambridgeshire, PE19 5TA

South East England

Beaumont Estate LBU Burfield Road, Old Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 2JJ

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

The Union Jack Club LBU Sandell Street, Waterloo, London, SE1 8UJ

ETC Venue LBU Drummond Gate, Pimlico, London SW1V 2QQ

West Midlands

The Beeches LBU Bournville, West Midlands, B30 1LS

West of England and Wales

Engineers House LBU The Promenade, Clifton Down, Bristol, BS8 3NB

Epiphany House LBU Truro, Cornwall, TR1 3DR

North of England

Pinewood on Wilmslow LBU Wilmslow Rd, Handforth, Wilmslow, Manchester, SK9 3LF

The Northern College LBU Wentworth Castle, Barnsley, S75 3ET

Mollington Banastre LBU Parkgate Road, Chester, CH1 6NN

Slaley Hall LBU Coal Road, Hexham, NE47 0BX


Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel LBU Beardmore Street, Glasgow, G81 4SA

Rosebery House LBU 9 Haymarket Terrace, Edinburgh, EH12 5EZ

Northern Ireland

Clotworthy Arts Centre LBU Antrim Castle Gardens, Randalstown Road, Antrim, BT41 4LH


National University of Ireland Gallway NUI University Road, Galway, Ireland

Ennismore Retreat Centre NUI Cork, Ireland

Marino Conference Centre NUI Dublin, Ireland

For Garda vetting please contact bbkells@gmail.com


La Mouline LBU St Genest de Contest, Tarn, Midi Pyrenees, France