Post Graduate Certificate in Therapeutic Play Skills

This play therapy course, recognised by Play Therapy Ireland has been clinically accredited by PTUK and PTI. It is based on PTI’s International standards of competencies.  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. (Phone  Monika Jephcott on 0044 1825 761143 or email: or for Career Guide & full Brochure or download an Application Form – MS Word or PDF – versions available.

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.

APAC has run our MA in Practice Based Play Therapy programme at All Hallows Dublin for eight years, lately in partnership with the National University of Ireland. The announcement that All Hallows will cease recruiting students for their own courses has no impact on our Play Therapy courses which will continue in Dublin and Galway as normal.

The course is at stage 2 of the PTIRl’s  four stage training model

Designed for

The course is 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

  • Paediatricians

  • Nursery School Teachers/Assistants

  • Social Workers

  • Play School Teachers/Assistants

  • Care Home Staff

  • Adoption/Foster Agency Workers

  • Nurses

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 PTIrl 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 Practice Based Play Therapy.  It may be undertaken as a ‘stand alone’ course. Successful participants will be awarded 60 M/CAT points by the university.



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 reflection and all forms of creativity 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 of the course 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 – 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 may vary slightly from course to course)

Module 1 – Course Introduction; Starting to Work Therapeutically With Children; The Therapeutic Play Continuum; Creative Visualisation; Setting Up to Practice; Pharmacology

Module 2 – Music Skills for Working With Individuals and Attachment theory

Module 3 – Storytelling  & Puppetry Skills for Use With Individual Children; Comparison of Theoretical Models of Psychotherapy and their relevance to children.

Module 4 – Sand play skills for working with individuals and related theory; the Use of Natural Materials; Child Development Theory (1); Art Therapy for Individuals

Module 5 – Dance and Movement skills for working with individuals; Student presentations; Endings

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 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.


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


Professional: Play Therapy International (PTI) Certificate in Therapeutic Play Skills.

University: Post Graduate Certificate of Therapeutic Play Skills with 60 ‘M/CAT’ points



Course Title 1st Module Start Dates of Other Modules
2nd 3rd 4th Final
The Clayton Silver Springs, Cork


04/03/22 13/05/22 24/06/22 09/09/22 25/11/22
The Talbot Hotel Stillorgan, Dublin 14/01/22 25/03/22 17/06/22 09/09/22 14/10/22


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 12 specialist play therapy and creative arts facilitators.


APAC in collaboration with the National University of Ireland


Irish Courses – �3750 including University Registration fee


After successful application you can pay online at Play Therapy Shop


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