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.

Call 01825 761143 for Career Guide & full Brochure.

Location Block 1 Block 2 Block 3 Block 4 Block 5
Northern College, Barnsley 14th – 16th January 2022 18th – 20th March 2022 20th – 22nd May 2022 15th – 17th July 2022 30th September – 2nd October 2022
Moor Hall Hotel, Birmingham 8th – 10th April 2022 24th – 26th June 2022 9th – 11th September 2022 4th – 6th November 2022 13th – 15th January 2023
Hilton Edinburgh Carlton, Edinburgh 8th – 10th April 2022 1st – 3rd July 2022 9th – 11th September 2022 25th – 27th November 2022 13th – 15th January 2023
etc. venues Victoria, London 4th – 6th March 2022 6th – 8th May 2022 8th – 10th July 2022 16th – 18th September 2022 25th – 27th November 2022
The Salomons Estate, Tunbridge Wells 11th – 13th March 2022 20th – 22nd May 2022 8th – 10th July 2022 16th – 18th September 2022 18th – 20th November 2022
Ditton Manor, Slough, Nr Windsor 20th – 22nd May 2022 15th – 17th July 2022 30th September – 2nd October 2022 25th – 27th November 2022 3rd – 5th February 2023
The Clayton Hotel Silver Springs, Cork 4th – 6th March 2022 13th – 15th May 2022 24th – 26th June 2022 9th – 11th September 2022 25th – 27th November 2022
The Talbot Hotel Stillorgan, Dublin 14th – 16th January 2022 25th – 27th March 2022 17th – 19th June 2022 9th – 11th September 2022 14th – 16th October 2022
Summer School: La Mouline, France 23rd July – 6th August 2022 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Zhengzhou, China 29th January – 12th February 2022 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Bangalore, India 23rd – 27th July 2022 22nd – 26th October 2022 11th – 15th February 2023 N/A N/A
Poland 10th – 12th December 2021 14th – 16th January 2022 18th – 20th March 2022 13th – 15th May 2022 24th – 26th June 2022
Singapore 11th – 13th March 2022 6th – 8th May 2022 1st – 3rd July 2022 26th – 28th August 2022 7th – 9th October 2022

To request an Application Form please email contact@apac.org.uk


Selected from APAC’s faculty.


UK Courses – £3150 plus University Registration fee – £370

Irish Courses – €3750 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.

You can pay online at Play Therapy Shop

Bed and breakfast accommodation is available on site at Marino Conference Centre, Buckden Towers, Salomons and Wentworth Castle.

There is nearby attractive accommodation.

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.

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