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Creative Psychotherapy & Play Therapy - Humanistic & Integrative Modality

MA Creative Psychotherapy (Humanistic & Integrative Modality)

This is the first accredited programme of its kind here in Ireland to offer a comprehensive, experiential training in Play Therapy as part of a fully professionally recognised MA qualification as a Psychotherapist with a major emphasis on the practice of Play Therapy. Our focus on younger clients is unique in a humanistic and integrative psychotherapy training, as is our intense focus on utilising creative, action methods that bring neuroscientific learning and interpersonal neurobiological concepts into the heart of developmentally appropriate clinical practice. Graduates will be ideally placed to work as therapists with children and young people presenting with emotional difficulties that may be mild or severe in nature and to practice as humanistic counsellors (PG Diploma) or psychotherapists (MA). This course incorporates both professional and academic training. The MA is awarded by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI). The QQI course code is PG21811 (9M18873). It is an IAHIP recognised course – the only child and adolescent training to achieve this status. IAHIP (Irish Association of Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy) is a section of the Irish Council for Psychotherapy so members are eligible to receive the European Certificate in Psychotherapy through the ICP.

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 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.

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. In these cases the play therapist will work with 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. those who complete the full MA) are mental health professionals and, in addition to the developmental and therapeutic servces 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, 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 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.

Entry requirements

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, 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 professional experience, who do not have a suitable degree may be eligible for entry to the academic programme via Recognition of Prior Learning (e.g. completion of training that was 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.

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 ( Trainees can secure Garda vetting through the IAPTP.


4 years part-time

Careers or further progression

Unique Features of this training programme

Our training programme is very unusual in that it can qualify graduates to work therapeutically with clients of all ages: children, adolescents, and adults. 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 a psychotherapy training and that many graduates from the social sciences are interested in pursuing a career as a therapist to work with children and adolescents in addition to adults.

The four-year programme has been designed to meet the criteria of the European Certificate of Psychotherapy (ECP) for core psychotherapy training courses. Graduates of the four-year programme are eligible for professional accreditation as a psychotherapist and the course is already a recognised course of the Irish Association of Humanistic & Integrative Psychotherapy, the Irish Association for Psychotherapy in Primary Care (IAP PC) and the IAPTP.

Further enquiries

Further Details and information on other courses from: Eileen Prendiville at 087 6488149, or

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 MA 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 an understanding of the counselling and 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 counselling and psychotherapy through 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 Jungian Sandplay Therapy and Gestalt Therapy approaches in clinical practise, as well as an insight into other relevant approaches to psychotherapy, theories of change and human development.

Supervised clinical practice continues with clients of diverse ages.

In this year there are a mixture of 1, 2 and 3 day modules. Open House days continue.

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 will engage in clinical practice throughout the year and will attend regular supervision sessions with assigned trainers/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. Those taking the optional module in relation to adult clients will also receive a CTC Diploma in Humanistic & Integrative Psychotherapy.

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.

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, support session with parents, and counselling sessions with 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 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 as set and assessed by module tutors.
Completion of course requirements and assignments to acceptable standard
Satisfactory attendance and timekeeping.

Our Play Therapy and Psychotherapy Awards

The QQI award for those completing the 4 years is an MA in Creative Psychotherapy (Humanistic and Integrative Modality). A QQI exit award, Postgraduate Diploma in Arts in Play Therapy, is available to those who exit after 2nd year but who do not complete 4th year. As the QQI award is set at level 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications entry is restricted to applicants who have already completed a suitable undergraduate degree. Entry to year 3 is restricted to holders of a suitable Play Therapy qualification.



The venue for many 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. Some modules are also delivered at alternative locations (generally therapy centres) including Limerick, Claremorris and Leixlip. Library facilities are available.

Trainees complete their clinical practice (from 2nd year onwards) in their own area. Fortnightly supervision sessions take place at a variety of locations around the country.

Application date

Processing Applications

We begin actively processing applications approximately six to eight months prior to the start of the course, although applicants are advised to apply as early as possible. We tend to receive a lot of applications and they start to arrive well over a year before each intake. The first stage our process is a review of the application form and documents. A short list of applicants are selected for interview. Interviews for the course stating in July take place in January and those for the group starting in August take place between January and February. When all places have been allocated, the intake for the year will close and subsequent applications will be held for the following year. Early application is advised to avoid disappointment.

Course fee


The course fee for year one is €3990 (Year 2 is €4190) including library and access to the online portal. 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. The additional fee for academic registration and certification with QQI is currently set by QQI at €200 for each Level 9 award (Postgraduate Diploma (2nd yr) and MA (4th yr). Students are required to be insured under the Study & Protect scheme to meet QQI and legal requirements.

The course is eligible for tax relief under section 473A, Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997. Details available from Revenue (Revenue Leaflet IT 1 'Tax Credits, Rates and Reliefs' and IT 31 'Tax Relief for Tuition Fees in respect of Third Level education) or from

Enrolment and start dates

Provisional Course Dates for 2019-2020

There will be two intakes in 2019. The course runs for the full day on each date. The following dates are provisional and subject to change.

Year 1, Group 1 2019: 5th–8th July (Limerick), 16th–18th August (Westmeath), 27th–29th Sept (Limerick), 23rd – 24th Nov (Westmeath), 30th Jan -2nd Feb (Limerick), 14th-16th March (Westmeath), 16th -17th May (Westmeath)

Year 1, Group 2 2019: 23rd–26thAugust (Limerick), 12th–14th October (Westmeath), 29th Nov – 1st Dec (Limerick), 11th-12th Jan (Westmeath), 21st–23rd Feb (Limerick) 17th–19th April (Westmeath) 6th – 7th June (Westmeath)

Year 2, Group 1 2019: 6th – 8th Sept 19 (Limerick), 5th – 6th Oct (Ballymore), 26th – 28th Oct (Limerick), 30th Nov & 1st Dec (Ballymore), 4th & 5th Jan 20 (Ballymore), 1st & 2nd Feb (Ballymore), 7th & 8th Mar (Ballymore), 3rd – 5th Apr (Ballymore), 18th Apr (Leixlip), 8th – 10th May (Ballymore).

Year 2, Group 2 2019:

13th – 15th Sept 19 (Limerick), 19th – 20th Oct (Ballymore), 9th – 11th Nov (Limerick), 7th & 8th Dec (Ballymore), 18th & 19th Jan 20 (Ballymore), 8th & 9th Feb (Ballymore), 21st & 22nd Mar (Ballymore), 24th – 26th Apr (Ballymore), 18th Apr (Leixlip), 22nd – 24th May (Ballymore).

Year 3 2019:

20th–22nd Sept, 18th – 20th Oct (Claremorris), 22nd – 24th Nov (Limerick), 13th – 15th Dec, 18th – 19th Jan (Limerick), 15th – 16th Feb, 21st – 23rd March (Limerick), 2nd – 3rd May. Case Presentations 23rd – 25th May.

Year 4 Group 1 2019:

13th Aug, 31st Aug – 1st Sept (Mullingar), 27th – 29th Sept, 11th Oct, 1st – 3rd Nov, 8th – 10th Nov, 24th – 26th Jan, 29th Feb – 2nd Mar, 18th April (Leixlip). Also child protection training and online course.

Year 4 Group 2 2019:

13th Aug, 7th – 8th Sept (Mullingar), 4th – 6th Oct, 11th Oct, 1st – 3rd Nov, 15th – 17th Nov, 7th – 9th Feb, 29th Feb – 2nd Mar, 18th April (Leixlip). Also child protection training and online course.

Peer group meetings, personal therapy, clinical practice, and clinical supervision sessions take place between the modules listed above. There is also an online learning site for each group plus online courses. An online site for Academic Writing support is also provided.

See for details of upcoming course dates as they are set

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