Creative Psychotherapy - Humanistic & Integrative Modality

Children's Therapy Centre

Creative Psychotherapy - Humanistic & Integrative Modality

Introduction to the course
This is a four-year part-time experiential and eclectic psychotherapy training with theoretical, practical and skills development components. It is made up of two distinct stages: the first two years comprise the play therapy programme and forms the basis for the final two year component which leads to the psychotherapy award. All 4 years are structured in a way that builds on prior learning so as to develop the necessary personal characteristics, skills and competence and acquire the depth and breath of knowledge that is core to the formation of a psychotherapist. There are clear distinctions between the professional roles of play therapists and psychotherapists, mainly linked to the fact that psychotherapists are mental health professionals. The title of psychotherapist is listed to be one of the protected titles and subject to CORU regulation and practitioner registration.

We utilise role-play, small and large group work, lectures, presentations, discussions, creative activities, etc. This course is designed for mature students who wish to engage in training in the use of creative interventions and approaches, therapeutic play, play therapy, child psychotherapy, counselling and psychotherapy. Great emphasis is put on personal development and experiential learning, skills development, supervised clinical practice, utilising action methods, active imagination, and on working in accordance with a clear theoretical framework. Core play therapy, counselling and psychotherapy trainers, and clinical supervisors, all meet the required standards for professional and academic training. Course content pays particular attention to humanistic and integrative approaches, the psychotherapy process with children and adolescents, neurobiology, and to trauma issues. Neurobiologically informed psychotherapists take a neuroscientific perspective and are mindful of the biology of attachment and arousal. Such knowledge is used to inform clinical decision-making. In addition to ongoing clinical training, a research project with relevance to the field of psychotherapy is completed in the final year.

Play therapy is a developmentally sensitive therapeutic modality in which a trained play therapist uses the therapeutic powers of play to help children prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development. Play therapy is relationship based – the power of the therapy comes from the strength of the relationship between the Play Therapist and the child.

"Children must be approached and understood from a developmental perspective. They must not be viewed as miniature adults. Their world is one of concrete realities and their experiences are often communicated through play. Unlike adults whose natural medium of communication is verbalization, the natural medium of communication for children is play activity. (Landreth, 1991)

Play therapists use approaches, interventions, media, and activities that are appropriate to the age and developmental stage of the client. Play permits the child to communicate with adults nonverbally, symbolically, and in an action-oriented manner.

When the practitioner does not hold a separate mental health qualification to practice as a psychotherapist, play therapy is practiced as a non-mental health profession often in the context of another professional career (e.g. teacher, social worker, childcare). The play therapist may provide services for typically developing children and clients who do not have clinical issues: they may work with children with mild adjustment issues or those struggling with developmental challenges. The aim is to promote emotional wellbeing and assist the child, including those facing adversity (e.g. stressful events including e.g. hospitalisation, parental separation, bereavement, or single incident trauma in previously well adjusted children) to master developmental milestones and develop emotional literacy and resiliency.

Play therapists who are also psychotherapists (i.e. on completion of the full MA) are mental health professionals and, in addition to the developmental and therapeutic services offered by play therapists, are involved in providing psychological treatment to clients with complex emotional needs and issues. In addition to the benefits identified above, the aim of the intervention can also include the resolution of particular psychological and/or psychiatric issues that compromise the child's healthy interactions with the world. This includes children and adolescents who have experienced adversity, experience chronic distress, and who may struggle with emotional, psychological, or mental health related difficulties. This practice is designed to help facilitate personal growth, allieviate distress and overcome emotional and behavioural problems. It is concerned with resolving issues, building resources, repairing damage and restoring (or enabling for the first time) positive mental health. It plays a significant role in reorganising the personality and helping those who have experienced developmental trauma that has interrupted or distorted development to enable and maximise their true potential. Such psychotherapists are qualified to work with children across the spectrum of need including those with significant clinical issues, e.g. disrupted and disorganised attachments, histories of neglect, experiences of physical, emotional and sexual abuse, and those whose development has been distorted by living in situations of chronic distress, unpredictability and lack of supportive, attuned caregiving.

Counselling in Action
This course focuses extensively on the play therapy process and the therapeutic relationship as part of the healing intervention for children and adolescents who have experienced difficult life events or who are compromised in reaching their full potential. In addition, it takes a systemic approach, looking at the needs of young clients within their family and the broader needs of the family also. Therefore, in addition to client-centred play therapy, psychotherapy, and creative arts approaches, we include training on the counselling skills that are essential if one is to work successfully with the child within their family.

We utilise humanistic and integrative models that incorporate the use of non-directive and focused approaches as indicated, to respond to the changing needs of the specific client as they present to us in therapy. Students will also become proficient in the use of therapeutic activities and interventions utilising play and the creative arts to enrich their therapy practice.

Unique Features of this training programme
Our training programme is very unusual in that it qualifies graduates to work as humanistic and integrative child and adolescent psychotherapists, and as play therapists. While many courses address working with adult clients, our focus on younger clients is unique in a humanistic and integrative psychotherapy training, as is our intense focus on the use of play and creative therapies. Many of our trainees are attracted to our course specifically because of these two factors. Our experience has been that there is a lot of interest in training in the field of play therapy as part of psychotherapy training and that many graduates from the social sciences are interested in pursuing a career as a psychotherapist to work with children and adolescents.

Subjects taught

Subject Strands
The core programme is built around three subject strands that build up over the course. These 3 strands are:

1. Reflective Practice
2. Developing Clinical Skills
3. Theoretical Studies

Subjects in the Play Therapy Postgraduate Diploma (years 1 and 2) are:
• Psychotherapeutic Experience: The Internal Working Model,
• Play & Expressive Arts: Theory and Practice
• Human Development including Play
• Psychotherapeutic Experience: Exploring Patterns and Relationships
• Integrative Psychotherapy and the Play Therapy Process
• Play Therapy and Counselling: Supervised Practicum
• A Comparative Analysis of Psychotherapy and Play Therapy Models
• Considering Systems and Environments in Child & Adolescent Therapy

Subjects in the 2nd half of the MA Creative Psychotherapy (years 3 and 4) are:
Neurobiologically Informed Therapeutic Use of Self
Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy Practice
Trauma Informed Psychotherapy
Creative Psychotherapy
Research Methods and Dissertation

Year 1
This focuses on developing non-directive, client-centred, play and counselling skills, a working knowledge of child development, play, relevant psychological theories and safe working practices; developing a therapeutic relationship; using therapeutic play to facilitate children in developing psychological resilience and reaching their potential (developing self confidence, self-esteem, and a strong sense of personal identity); and to intervene with clients with a range of particular needs. It has a specific focus on the personal development of the course participants to ensure development of self-awareness, growing maturity, and the development of basic counselling and listening skills. Trainees engage in a practicum to develop observational skills, and practice facilitating creative play sessions. The focus on child observation builds a foundation for developing research skills, and the myriad of approaches to therapeutic play based interventions builds skills in assessment and programme planning. In this year there are a mixture of 2, 3 and 4-day modules based around weekends as far as possible.

Year 2
This focuses on training participants to work as play therapists with a range of clients with mild and moderate emotional problems. The initial focus is on training as a Client Centred Play Therapist, then on integrating non-directive approaches with more focused interventions to assist clients to develop healthy coping skills. We introduce a variety of models of psychotherapy and play therapy, their origins, their underlying personality theories and philosophies, and practice issues. This year also covers counselling skills in more depth, developing a systemic and professional framework, working with parents and carers as 'secondary clients', and involves many personal development workshops utilising creative and play media and approaches. Participants are introduced to the use of creative therapy with clients of all ages; working with clients who present with specific emotional and/or behavioural difficulties (e.g. bereavement, parental separation) and/or disorders. Participants engage in Clinical Practice with children and their families, a proportion of which is clinically supervised by core trainers (included in course fee). There is a focus on developing skills in linking theory and practice including understanding themes in play, conceptualizing the therapy process with young clients, reading play as the language of the child and facilitating developmentally appropriate creative therapy sessions. In this year there are a mixture of 1, 2 and 3-day modules based around weekends as far as possible.

Year 3
This focuses on developing a deeper understanding of the psychotherapy process, coupled with developing skills and a knowledge base to work with clients, including adolescents, with more challenging issues and complex life histories. Emphasis is given to utilising the mediums of play and creative media, supported by talk therapy, for clients who present with attachment disorders and/or have experienced child abuse and/or neglect. Continuing personal development (using the creative therapies) facilitates participants to process personal issues. Input is also given regarding sandtray therapy and integrative approaches in clinical practise, as well as an insight into other relevant approaches to psychotherapy, theories of change and human development. A neurobiological perspective is maintained to enhance intuitive practice, making therapeutic use of self, and clinical decision-making. We place very high emphasis on the integration of theory and practice and developing advanced skills in conceptualising the therapy process. Supervised clinical practice continues over the full year with clients of diverse ages, with diverse issues, and in diverse settings.

In this year there are a mixture of 1, 2 and 3-day modules.

Year 4
A significant focus in the professional training element of fourth year is on developing the skills, knowledge and competencies to practice safely and ethically as a psychotherapist with a diversity of clients with complex and multifaceted needs. Trainees continue to engage in clinical practice throughout the year and will attend regular supervision sessions with assigned supervisors. These sessions will incorporate a significant training element and will challenge and support trainees in making links between theory and practice

Supervised practice, and theoretical content, relate to working on a deep psychotherapeutic level with clients of diverse ages, and with complex needs, while making extensive use of creative approaches.

In the MA research methods blended learning component students are introduced systematically to the range of research methods used in psychotherapy and will complete a research dissertation. Particular emphasis is given to formulating appropriate questions, objectivity, reliability, techniques used in research projects that are most relevant to practitioner researchers, ethical considerations, analysing data and presenting findings.

Personal Therapy

Each trainee must participate in Individual Therapy Sessions, a minimum of 30 per year, with an accredited psychotherapist (generally IAHIP), of their own choosing, scheduled at own convenience, over the duration of the course. The experience of being a client is vital to developing an understanding of the therapy process in an experiential way and facilitates the self-exploration and development of increased self-awareness that is central to the practice of therapy. The cost of these sessions is not included in the course fee and will be negotiated between the trainee and the therapist of their choosing. Group psychotherapy sessions take place during course time. There is no additional cost for these sessions.

Over the 4 years therapeutic/personal development sessions including both group and individual therapy sessions span 180 hours. Further personal reflective activities bring these hours up to 250. There are opportunities for personal development in the course itself and through workshops, experiential activities and relationships within the group. All personal therapy requirements must be met as a condition of graduation.

Clinical Practice and Supervision

CTC take a careful and sequential approach to clinical practice: for safety reasons there are many carefully monitored stages before the work with clients will reach the level of psychotherapy. Trainees will begin by engaging in child observation sessions, then therapeutic play sessions, then play therapy sessions with children and adolescents, intake, review and support session with parents and relevant adults, as they progress through the training and are assessed as being ready to engage in increasingly complex clinical work and psychotherapy practice. Some clinical supervision (during the academic year) is included in course fee; additional privately funded supervision is also required both during the course itself and the pre-accreditation period.

Professional Training Assessment Components:

Self, peer, trainer and supervisor assessment.
Self-awareness, maturity, and ability to work with group dynamics.
Satisfactory participation, development and demonstration of appropriate skills and competencies in relation to each module.
Completion of course requirements and assignments to acceptable standard
Satisfactory completion of supervised clinical practice and personal therapy. Completion of all required hours must be logged and confirmed.
Satisfactory attendance and timekeeping. Full attendance is a requirement and is monitored. Should exceptional circumstances made attendance unavoidable for a training day/s, alternative attendance will generally be required to make up the required training hours.

Entry requirements

Registering for the QQI award: Direct Entry to year 1

For admission to the M.A. in Creative Psychotherapy (Humanistic and Integrative Modality), entrants will normally:

Have a 2.2 or higher in a relevant undergraduate (generally a level 8) degree (for example, though not exhaustively, social science, social care, psychology, nursing, community development, education, counselling, psychotherapy etc.) or equivalent

Have at least two years relevant professional experience (for example, social care, counsellor, helpline worker, childcare, social work, education or nursing) working with children.

Be able to demonstrate maturity, personal readiness and suitability for psychotherapy training including commitment to personal & professional development and a willingness to engage in a self-reflective process that includes personal therapy

Have participated in relevant foundation level training or CPD events (e.g. in play, therapeutic play, play therapy, creative arts, counselling skills. Ideal foundation training courses are the Therapeutic Play Skills Certificate and/or the Principles of Art Therapy Certificate)

Successfully undertake a selection interview

Commit to full attendance for all 4 years of the course

Registering for the QQI award: Indirect Entry

A small number of applicants, with extensive relevant professional experience (generally 10 years or more), who do not have honours on a suitable level 8 degree may be eligible for entry to year 1 of the academic programme via Recognition of Prior Learning (e.g. completion of training that is at a lower academic level than is generally required). Such applicants must demonstrate, and provide evidence to attest to their acquisition of suitable learning outcomes in a relevant area and will generally hold a full level 7 degree in a relevant area.

Safety Provisions

It will be necessary for participants be vetted by An Garda Siochana and to be covered by professional insurance cover prior to undertaking direct work with children. To be eligible for professional insurance cover, as required, (details available), each participant must be a member of the Irish Association for Play Therapy and Psychotherapy and act in accordance with their Code of Ethics ( and the IAHIP Code of Ethics. Trainees must secure Garda vetting through the IAPTP who will share the outcome with CTC as per our quality assurance agreement.

Application dates

Processing Applications

Please complete the application form in full and post, with a C.V., and 2 passport photographs, and €100 processing fee to:

The Children's Therapy Centre,
Stewart House,
Lonsdale Road,
National Technology Park,
Co. Limerick
N94 KN70

You can pay the €100 processing fee via the CTC online booking system. Please click here to make your payment. If you require any assistance please email

Please email soft copies of the completed application form and CV with the other required documents to . Your application will not be processed unless we have all relevant documentation and the required processing fee. If you have any queries please email

We begin processing applications at least nine months to a year prior to the start of the course, although applicants are advised to apply as early as possible. The first stage our process is a review of the application form and documents. A short list of applicants are selected for interview. Interviews take place in January. When all places have been allocated the intake for the year will close and subsequent applications will be held for the following year. Applicants are advised that there is tough competition for entry to this course due to the number of high calibre applicants. We accept applications throughout the year.


4 years part-time


The venues for most of the on-site training days are 1) Ballymore, (near Moate) Co. Westmeath, and 2) Limerick. We have fully equipped and resourced training centres in both counties. Some modules are also delivered at alternative locations including Claremorris and Leixlip. Library facilities are available.

Trainees complete their clinical practice (from 2nd year onwards) in their own area. These begin with play therapy and progress to psychotherapy practice in year 3. Fortnightly supervision sessions take place at a variety of locations around the country.

Post Course Info

Employment potential for child and adolescent psychotherapists specialising in play therapy has been and continues to be excellent. It is best for those with relevant primary training and work experience. Psychotherapists and play therapists who trained at CTC are currently employed in a range of Child and Family Centre's, The CARI Foundation, Hospitals, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Teams and Community Care Teams throughout the HSE, Statutory and Private Residential Care services, Primary and Secondary Schools, Special Schools, Voluntary Bodies, Family Resource Centre's and with many other services. Many of our graduates are also self-employed and work with clients of diverse ages and with diverse clinical issues.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Postgraduate Diploma (Level 9 NFQ),Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Part time

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