Skip to main content

Accredited Diploma in Play Therapy

This play therapy course has been clinically accredited by  Play Therapy International (PTI). Successful completion of the course and the required clinical hours leads to PTI certification as a Play Therapist. It is based on PTI’s International standards of competencies.  Like the Certificate,  it is the only course in the world that has been validated through clinical outcomes research – see news. Participants who complete the course successfully will have considerable credibility with employers.

It is validated for academic standards by the National University of Ireland as part of the MA in Practised based Play Therapy programme run in a collaborative partnership with APAC.

Please click here for a full Career Guide and Brochure

For Garda vetting please contact
You can start on the course but must be successfully vetted before you can start your practice. This process takes around 6 weeks so please apply for this as early as possible.

The Diploma course is the second part of a programme leading to an MA in Practised Based Play Therapy. The course is at stage 3 of the PTIRl’s  four stage training model

The course has 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
  • 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 individuals and groups of children who have moderate to severe problems

Successful participants will be awarded 60 M/CAT points by the university.

Designed for

The course is designed for anyone who has had at least 100 hrs experience of working with children or adolescents using therapeutic play or creative arts and has an appropriate first degree or equivalent. Participants may come from any background such as:

  • Counsellors

  • Psychotherapists

  • Clinical Psychologists

  • Primary School Teachers/Assistants

  • Paediatricians

  • Nursery School Teachers/Assistants

  • Social Workers

  • Play School Teachers/Assistants

  • Care Home Staff

  • Adoption/Foster Agency Workers

  • Nurses


The course is experiential in nature and will be specifically rooted in non- directive play therapy.

AN INTEGRATIVE APPROACH TO PLAY THERAPY  – Children and their environment

As in the Certificate course material for the Diploma builds upon the theory and practice of humanistic psychology, particularly that of Virginia Axline (“Dibs In Search of Self”) and Carl Rogers and gestalt play therapy developed by Violet Oaklander. It recognises contributions made by others in the early 1900s, such as John Bowlby, Margaret Lowenfeld, Donald Winnicott, Rachel Pinney etc.  It extends to a deeper understanding of the unconscious processes in relation to the child’s development based upon Freud, Jung, Graff, Fairburn Hillman, Moore and Jacobson. It also places importance on the spiritual aspect of human development. Opportunities for many forms of creativity will enrich the contents of the course.

You will be exploring ways of integrating the child as the centre of a social system, which includes schools, families, and team of support.

The course is divided into 5 free standing modules. 

The main items in the ‘Play Therapy Tool-Kit’ are re-visited at a greater level of competence, put into practice with more difficult problems and used as assessment methods.

Learning Objectives

The overall purpose is to enable participants to practice safely and effectively as a Play Therapist.

Upon successful completion of the course each participant will have gained:

– the competencies to work with all children (individual and group) of with all problems where Play therapy is suitable and with children and young people with mild to severe problems

– to make assessments incorporating the PDM

– A sound understanding of the principles underlying play therapy and the appropriate use of techniques

– The competencies required for running play therapy sessions with groups of children as well as individuals

– An ability to assess children’s needs and set up a play therapy services unit

– An ability to make decisions taking into account the ethical issues concerning all parties involved

– Increased confidence in using play therapy with children and adolescents and communications with referrers, parents and guardians

– The counselling, therapeutic and practical skills to carry out effective play therapy

– Awareness of your own process and development

– A comprehensive theoretical knowledge of child development and child psychology

– An ability to use the taught play therapy skills as assessment tools

– The ability to use a full play therapy tool-kit

– A basic understanding of play therapy research issues and methods

Course Structure

Module Descriptions (Modules 1 – 5 form the Certificate in Therapeutic Skills  course

(The sequence and content may vary slightly from course to course)

Module 6 – Introduction to Working with Groups; Developing Metaphors for Group Working; Introduction to Research Methods;. Developing Expressive Arts Skills – 1 – Dance and Movement for Groups; Assessment; Special cases: Autism, Mental/Physical disability

Module 7 – Developing Expressive Arts Skills 2 – Music Working With Parents/Teachers, Assessments through observation using video case studies Special cases: adopted, fostered

Module 8 – Developing Theatre Form Skills -Therapeutic Story Telling;. EPR; Assessment methods; Special cases: Loss/Bereavement, Separation

Module 9 – Developing Symbolic Play Skills; Sand Play – Advanced Skills; Working with Metaphors; Endings, Special cases: Physically and sexually abused – children who have experienced trauma

Module 10 – Developing Expressive Arts Skills – 3 Art in child development; Special cases working with Terminally Ill and or abuse; Court Work; Student presentation

Learning Methods

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 mainly be experiential, practical 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 modules. Writing a process diary and working therapeutically with children are essential parts of the course work.  Assignments and a project will be subject of group discussions during the following module.

The experiential aspect of the course will enable you to get in touch with your own inner child, to help you to understand the children’s processes during therapeutic play.

It is essential that participants are working with children whilst the course is in progress.  100 supervised hours need to be completed before the Diploma can be awarded.  Group clinical supervision of this work is a primary learning method.  The situations and problems that you encounter in real life outside the classroom together with their solutions are an essential part of the learning process.


15 days consisting of 5 x 3 day modules (Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays) spaced 6 – 8 weeks apart.


The Post Graduate Diploma in Play Therapy will be awarded, with 60 ‘M’ points, on the basis of:

  • Two written case studies, covering the work with a child for at least 1 year and a group of children showing a clear integration of theory and practice.
  • Completion of an individual practical therapeutic project, designed and documented by the participant.
  • Continuous evaluation of course work contributions and ability to work with group dynamics
  • Post training presentation
  • Evidence of a further 100 hrs supervised hours of working with children using play therapy
  • Completion an an essay of about 3000 words
  • Evidence of regular play therapy supervision
  • Satisfactory attendance on the course

In addition to the University award, with 60 ‘M/CAT’ points, Play Therapy International will award the Diploma in Play Therapy entitling the use of the title PTI Certified Play Therapist (subject to observing PTI’s ethical and CPD requirements).


Location Block 1 Block 2 Block 3 Block 4 Block 5


01/07/24 – 15/07/24
The Talbot Hotel Stillorgan
19/01/24 – 21/01/24 22/03/24 – 24/03/24 24/05/24 – 26/05/24 06/09/24 – 08/09/24 04/10/24 – 06/10/24

To submit an application form, please click here


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

South East England

Salomons CampusLBU – Broomhill Road,

Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN3 0TG

Midlands & East Anglia

Buckden TowersLBUBuckden, Cambridgeshire, PEI9 5TA


Stoneleigh Abbey, WarwickshireLBU Stoneleigh Abbey, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, CV8 2LF

West Midlands

The Beeches, BournvilleLBU The Beeches, Bournville, West Midlands, B30 1LS

Northern Ireland

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

West of England & Wales

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

North of England

Leeds/BarnsleyLBU The Northern College, Wentworth Castle, Stainborough

ManchesterLBU Pinewood on Wilmslow, Manchester


Rosebery HouseLBU, Edinburgh


Epiphany HouseLBU, Truro, Cornwall, TR1 3DR


The Union Jack ClubLBU, Sandell Street, Waterloo, SE1 8UJ


Marino Conference CentreNUI, Dublin, Ireland
For Garda vetting please contact


Carnloch Court Training CentreNUI, Cork, Ireland
For Garda vetting please contact


La MoulineLBU St Genest de Contest, Tarn, Midi Pyrenees, France

and other locations upon request

Faculty / Facilitators

Selected from APAC’s faculty of Specialist Play Therapy and Creative Arts Facilitators.


APAC in collaboration with the National University of Ireland


3950 including University Registration fee

Courses delivered in Northern Ireland are charged at £3,400 plus University Registration Fee of £370

The Registration Fee mentioned 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 should you subsequently proceed to the MA stage.

You should also budget for books and 12 hours of clinical supervision if your employer cannot provide this.

Close Menu
The Coach House,
Belmont Road,
East Sussex TN22 1BP

T: +44 (0) 1825 761 143