Institution / Childrens Therapy Centre
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Play Therapy

This is the first accredited programme of its kind here in Ireland to offer a comprehensive, experiential training in Play Therapy with the option to continue training so as to qualify as a Psychotherapist with a major emphasis on the practice of Play Therapy. This course incorporates both professional and academic training. The Postgraduate Diploma is awarded by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI).

The Children’s Therapy Centre (CTC) is the longest established and foremost provider of professional play therapy training and CPD courses in Ireland and has been delivering specialised training since the 90’s. We have approved quality assurance standards with both FETAC and HETAC and are a recognised QQI training provider. We are a registered third level educational institute. We are also an APT approved provider of play therapy training – the only one delivering training in Ireland.

QQI replaced the National Qualification Authority of Ireland (NQAI), The Further Education and Training Awards Council of Ireland (FETAC), and the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC) in November 2012. It also took over functions of the Irish Universities Quality Board.

Introduction to the course
This is a two-year part-time experiential and eclectic training (part of the MA in Creative Psychotherapy and Play Therapy (Humanistic & Integrative Modality) with theoretical, practical and skills development components. We utilise role-play, small and large group work, lectures, presentations, discussions, creative activities, etc. It 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.

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.

Counselling in Action
This course focuses extensively on the play therapy process and the therapeutic relationship as part of the healing intervention for children, adolescents, and adults, 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 a model that incorporates 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 acquire a tool-kit of therapeutic activities and interventions utilising play and the creative arts to enrich their therapy practice.

Programme Aims of the Postgraduate Diploma in Arts in Play Therapy

To develop the learners’ understanding of the principles underlying play therapy and psychotherapy and develop skills in utilizing play and creative mediums in their work with appropriate clients throughout the lifespan.

Provide learners with knowledge, skills and competence to initiate and manage the professional delivery of play therapy and associated counselling services and practice in compliance with a relevant professional code of ethics.

Equip learners to demonstrate the expertise to work therapeutically with a wide range of individuals and groups within a variety of clinical, community and/or educational settings.

Entry requirements

For admission to the M.A. in Creative Psychotherapy and Play Therapy (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, counseling, psychotherapy etc.) or equivalent

Have at least one to two years relevant professional (paid or voluntary) experience (for example, social care, counsellor, helpline worker, childcare, social work, education or nursing)

Be able to demonstrate 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

Successfully undertake a selection interview

Commit to full attendance at the course

Registering for the QQI award: Indirect Entry

A small number of applicants, with extensive relevant experience, who do not have honours on a suitable degree may be eligible for entry to the academic programme via Recognition of Prior Learning (i.e. completion of training that was not formally accredited). Such applicants must demonstrate, and provide evidence to attest to their acquisition of suitable learning outcomes in a relevant area.


2 years part-time

Course Dates 2015 – 2016

Year 1: A first year group begins each year. The course runs for the full day on each date.

Year 1 2015 – 2016 course modules are provisionally scheduled for 20th – 23rd August, 9th – 11th October, 4th – 6th Dec, 18th – 21st Feb, 1st – 3rd Apr, and 4th – 6th June.

Year 2: 18th– 20th Sept, 3rd – 4th Oct, 6th – 8th Nov, 28th – 29th Nov, 9th – 10th Jan, 13th – 14th Feb, 19th – 20th March, 8th –10th April, 16th April, and 6th – 8th May.

Extra Dates Every Year: Trainees can also attend as many of the Open House days (hosted approximately monthly, and with no extra cost except for occasional specialist events) as they wish each year, subject to prior booking. It is essential to attend on some of these dates.

Further enquiries

Further Details and information on other courses from: Eileen Prendiville at 087 6488149, or Facebook:
APT Approved Provider 11-294

Subjects taught

Subject Strands
The core programme is built around three subject strands:

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

Subjects in the Play Therapy Postgraduate Diploma 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

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 four modules of three days duration and two modules of four days duration.

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 cares as ‘secondary clients’, and involves many personal development workshops utilising creative and play media and approaches. Participants are introduced to the use of Sandplay 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. In this year there are a mixture of 1, 2 and 3 day modules based around weekends as far as possible.

Personal Therapy
Each trainee must participate in Individual Therapy Sessions, a minimum of 30 per year, with an accredited therapist, 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 student and the therapist of their choosing.

There are also opportunities for personal development in the course itself and through experiential activities and relationships within the group. Group psychotherapy/process sessions take place during course time.

Clinical Practice and Supervision
Students will begin by engaging in child observation sessions, then therapeutic play sessions, then play therapy sessions with children and adolescents, support session with parents, and counselling sessions with adults, as they progress through the training and are assessed as being ready to engage in clinical work. Some clinical supervision is included in course fee, additional privately funded supervision is also required.

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 as set and assessed by module tutors.

• Completion of course requirements and assignments to acceptable standard

• Satisfactory attendance and timekeeping.

Our Play Therapy Award

The QQI award, Postgraduate Diploma in Play Therapy, is available to those who successfully complete the 2nd year. As the QQI award is set at level 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications entry is restricted to applicants who have already achieved learning outcomes associated with level 8 awards.


The venue for almost all of the on-site training days is in Ballymore, (near Moate) Co. Westmeath, where we have a purpose built and fully equipped and resourced training centre. Library facilities are available and a range of books, puppets, and therapy resources are stocked in our small shop.

Students complete their clinical practice in their own 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 (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 ( Members of IAPTP can avail of their Garda vetting scheme.

Application date

Applications are accepted throughout the year. We begin processing applications approximately six months prior to the start of the course. The first stage in this process is a review of the application form and documents. A short list of applicants are selected for interview. Interviews usually take place in May.

Course fee

The course fee is €3990 per annum. The additional fee for academic registration and certification with QQI is currently set by QQI at €200 for each Level 9 award. Clinical groups are included in the cost of the course each year. Trainees are facilitated in making a payment plan, to suit their individual circumstances where necessary rather than being required to pay for the year in advance although the full fee is due for each person starting on the course.

Enrolment and start dates

Course Dates for 2017-2018

A first year group begins each August. The course runs for the full day on each date. The following dates are provisional and subject to change.

Year 1: 2017 – 2018 course modules are scheduled for 24th – 27th August 17, 14th – 16th October, 1st – 3rd Dec, 15th – 18th Feb, 13th – 15th Apr, and 2nd – 4th June.

Year 2 (1): 8th– 10th Sept, 20th – 21st Oct, 10th – 12th Nov, 8th – 9th Dec, 6th – 7th Jan, 10th – 11th Feb, 10th – 11th Mar, 6th – 8th Apr, 21st April, and 11th – 13th May.

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