Play Therapy

Course CodeBRE214
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

tudy Play Therapy Online

Play therapy is a therapeutic approach which can be used to help children express their thoughts and feelings through play. Although it is mostly used with children between the ages of 3 and 12 years, more recently it has also be used with older children and infants as well as special populations of adults such as people living with dementia, adults with emotional disturbances and those with developmental disabilities. As with other psychotherapies, the goal of play therapy is to help individuals attain improvement in psychological health and well-being.


Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. The Foundation for Using Play Therapy
    • Introduction
    • Brief History of Play Therapy
    • What is play -Functional Approach, Structural Approach, Play-Criterion Approach
    • Play and Cognitive Development
    • Play and Social Development
    • Play and Physical Activity
    • Language Play
    • Value of play
    • Play therapy defined
    • Approaches to Play Therapy - Non directive, directive, integrative
    • Axline’s Principles
    • Landreth’s Perspective
    • The Role of the Play Therapist
    • Play Therapy and Adults
    • Scope of play therapy
  2. Applications for Play and Play therapy
    • Therapeutic Play continuum - play, pla-work, therapeutic pla-work, therapeutic play, filial play, play therapy, child psychotherapy
    • Application of play therapy
    • Who is play therapy for
    • Background Information
    • Choice of toys and materials
    • Other Techniques
    • Age Appropriate Choices
    • Aggressive Toys
    • Toys to Avoid
    • Cultural considerations
    • Creating the right environment
    • Session Times
    • Playroom
    • Advantages
    • Research in Support of Play Therapy
    • Issues with play therapy
    • Problems Arising During Therapy
  3. Play Therapy for Anxiety and Depressive Disorders
    • Anxiety Disorders
    • Separation Anxiety Disorder
    • Selective Mutism
    • Specific Phobias
    • Other Anxiety Problems
    • Social Anxiety
    • School Anxiety
    • Symptoms
    • Treatment
    • Cognitive behaviour Therapy
    • Limitations of CBT
    • Medication
    • Limitations of Medication
    • Use of Play Therapy
    • Using play therapy to reduce anxiety in children
    • Tracking
    • CBT and play therapy for anxiety
    • Major depressive disorder
    • SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
    • Bipolar I & II Disorders
    • Cyclothymic Disorder
    • Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder
    • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
    • Persistent Depressive Disorder
    • Symptoms
    • Counselling & Medication treatments
    • Use of Play Therapy
    • Play therapy with children and adults with depression
  4. Play Therapy for Behavioural Disorders
    • Conduct Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder
    • Oppositional Defiant Disorder
    • Conduct Disorder - child onset. adolescent onset
    • Use of Play Therapy
    • ADHD - what it is, play therapy application
  5. Play Therapy for Developmental Disorders
    • Cascading Effect
    • Working with Children with Developmental Disorders
    • Autism Spectrum Disorder
    • Difficulties in Social Development and Interactions
    • Abnormal Communication
    • Repetitive Behaviour
    • Intellectual Disability
    • Physical Disability
    • Cerebral Palsy
    • Use of Play Therapy with Cerebral Palsy
    • Learning Disorders & Use of Play Therapy
    • Concrete Play Metaphors
    • Clay Therapy
    • Colour and Drawing Therapy
  6. Play Therapy for Social and Family Problems
    • Types of Family & Social Problems
    • Trauma
    • Abuse and Neglect
    • Effects of Abuse
    • Attachment Disorder
    • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
    • Grief and Loss
    • Divorce
    • Death of a parent
    • Other Factors - Schooling, Location
    • Use of Play Therapy for Trauma or Abuse
    • Ball Play, Sculpting and drawing
  7. Play Therapy and Adult Populations
  8. Related Specialised Creative Therapies
  9. Play and Rehabilitation


  • Explain the purpose for using play therapy, potential of what it might achieve, and determine situations where it is appropriate to use it as a therapeutic technique.
  • Explain the therapeutic play continuum, applications of play and play therapy, play therapy tools, advantages and issues arising in therapy.
  • Explain how play therapy can be used to help children with emotional disturbances such as depression and anxiety disorders.
  • Explain how play therapy can be used to help children with behavioural disorders such as conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and problems with anger and impulse control.
  • Explain how play therapy can be used to treat developmental disorders such as autism, intellectual disability and learning disorders.
  • Determine appropriate uses of play therapy for children suffering from social and family related problems such as grief and loss, crises such as divorce, and trauma-related issues.
  • Determine uses of play therapy to assist adult populations with specific emotional and psychological problems which can benefit from play.
  • Explain a range of different but closely related therapies including music, art, and drama therapy, and techniques used in these therapies which are incorporated into play therapy.
  • Explain how play can be used in occupational therapy and other contexts to help people manage or rehabilitate from physical and mental disabilities, and the role of science and technology.

Learn from our decades of experience

ACS has had a strong interest and involve ment in the field of play since it was founded in 1979 by principal, John Mason.

In 1975 John attended the International Play Association conference in Milan. Italy. The big take away was how significant play is but how underappreciated it is. Research presented indicated that a child learns more through play than they do through school. Think about it. Play isn't just important to learning, not just for children though, nor just for learning. 

John was the Australian representative for the IPA for a time, wrote a book on playgrounds (The Environment of Play, published by Leisure Press in the USA), and in the 1980's we developed our first distance learning course on playground design. We've developed a play leadership course, and this play therapy course beyond that.

All types of therapists & health professionals today are using "play therapies" for rehabilitation and other forms of patient/client support.  This course was created in collaboration witrh psychologists, health professionals and education professionals. It is truly a multidisciplinary course of value in any of those professions.


Why Study Play Therapy?

Like other types of therapy, play therapy helps to reduce or eliminate negative or maladaptive behaviours whilst encouraging the use of positive or adaptive ones. Some of the benefits attributed to play therapy include:

  • Improved mood and positive feelings
  • Better coping skills
  • Enhanced problem solving
  • Less internal conflict and stress
  • Greater self-awareness
  • Increased impulse control
  • Appropriate emotional expression
  • Improved verbal skills
  • Better communication
  • Improved social skills
  • Increased confidence and self-esteem
  • Greater trust of others
  • Increased maturity
Enrol on Play Therapy today - improve your knowledge by distance learning - study when and where you want to, with support from our expert tutors. If you have any questions or want to know more, get in touch with us today!

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