Play Therapy Best Practice Guidelines

The Australian Play Therapists Association is Australia’s national professional Play Therapy association. It is a Government registered, incorporated and not for profit association.

All Play Therapists who are clinical members of APTA and APTA Registered Play Therapists are required to be licensed or registered with their mental health licensing board or professional registration body. Play Therapists are required to follow the code of ethics as drawn up by their primary professional mental health licensing or registering body, board or group.

APTA offers these Play Therapy Best Practices as guidelines for the instruction, supervision and practice of play therapy.


A.1 Commitments and Responsibilities to the Client

Primary Responsibilities

The primary responsibility of the Play Therapist is to promote the best interests and welfare of children, and to respect their dignity and individual uniqueness. The best interest may include adjunctive therapy for the significant adults in the child’s life. In providing play therapy to children, the Play Therapist encourages the advancement of the psychosocial and emotional development and positive mental health of children, as well as the nurturing relationships in the child’s life.

Responsibility to the Client

In order to act in the best interests of the client, Play Therapists are to work within the limits of their training, experience and clinical supervision. Play Therapists must commit to continuing professional development as well as to regular clinical supervision in order to enhance their practice and ensure the provision of a quality service. Clients are generally unable to give voluntary informed consent and are dependent on their legal guardian; therefore acting in the best interests of clients is of paramount importance to the Play Therapist. This requires monitoring of practice and outcomes and accordingly APTA has set down standards for supervision which all clinical members of APTA should follow.

Personal and Professional Responsibilities

Play Therapists are committed to working in the best interests of clients and to conduct play therapy in a professional manner. This may involve not providing play therapy services when unfit to do so as a result of personal impairment, including illness, personal circumstances or intoxication. Play Therapists must guard against the misuse of their influence or exploitation of others through their role. This may include personal, emotional, social, financial, sexual, political or organisational factors. Play Therapists are committed to the promotion of Play Therapy as a credible and effective modality, and have a responsibility to challenge the incompetence or malpractice of colleagues and to contribute in investigations or adjudications concerning the professional practice of others.

Relationship of Trust

Play Therapists are committed to developing trusting relationships with clients, and are duty bound to maintain confidentiality and to only share information when this is in the best interest of clients or is a legal requirement.


Play Therapists follow the requirements of their primary professional registration body regarding the necessary content of their clinical records relating to counselling and therapeutic clinical practice and the length of time that records must be kept. Professional Registration bodies in Australia include the Australian Association of Social Workers, Psychotherapists and Counsellors Federation of Australia, Australian Counsellors Association, the Psychology Board of Australia and the Australia Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

APTA recommends that the following be included in the documentation:

  • Child and family assessment
  • Goals of treatment & why Play Therapy is recommended
  • Description of the use of therapeutic touch, if used
  • Observed play themes, materials used and stages in the Play Therapy process
  • Graphic images as relevant to the Play Therapy sessions and process, e.g. sketches of sand trays, drawings, photographs, videotapes, etc.
  • Changes in thought process, mood/affect, play themes, stages and behavior
  • Interventions with significant others, e.g. adjunct therapy, referrals, etc.
  • Suicidal or homicidal intent or ideation as well as threatened or past incidents of aggression towards self or others
  • Level of family functioning and environment
  • Conditions for termination

These records, irrespective of the medium in which they are stored (paper, digital, video), are safeguarded in every possible manner. Videoing of Play Therapy sessions may only be done with signed informed consent and can only be used for the purposes agreed to, which may include clinical supervision and training. Consideration must be given to the potential impact and risks of the use of client video material in training and conference forums and can only be done with informed signed consent.

Professional Indemnity Insurance and Public Liability

Play Therapists must have professional indemnity insurance and public liability insurance cover through the workplace or through private insurance cover. A minimum of $10,000,000 insurance cover is the APTA minimum requirement for those in private practice.

Educational Needs

Play Therapists may also, if qualified through training and/or experience, be involved in supporting the child and family in the child’s school or educational setting. If qualified through training and/or experience, the Play Therapist may work with the child and significant adults in considering alternate educational placements that are consistent with the client’s overall abilities, physical restrictions, general temperament, interests, aptitudes, social skills, and other relevant individual differences and developmental needs that have become apparent through the Play Therapy. Play Therapists are ever mindful of the best interests of the child in recommending alternative educational placements and remain available to consult with professionals and staff in those placements.

A.2 Respecting Individual Differences


Play Therapists do not discriminate, condone discrimination or professionally associate with others who discriminate based upon age, culture, disability, ethnic group, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identification or socioeconomic status.

Respect of Individual Differences

Play Therapists will actively participate in the provision of interventions that show understanding of the diverse cultural backgrounds of their clients, being cognisant of how their own cultural/ethnic/ racial identity may influence interventions and therapeutic philosophy. The Play Therapist should make every effort to support and maintain the culture and cultural identity of clients.

A.3 Rights of Clients

Disclosure Statement

The Play Therapist informs the child’s significant adults of the purposes, goals, techniques, procedural limitations, potential and foreseeable risks and benefits of the Play Therapy services to be offered. The Play Therapist recognises and respects that the child is the primary client, and thus, informs the child in age appropriate language, of the limits of confidentiality and about the Play Therapy services the child will be engaging in. The Play Therapist takes steps to ensure that the child’s significant adults understand the implications of diagnosis, the intention of tests and reports, fees and billing arrangements and that the child is included in this process where appropriate. The client has the right to expect confidentiality and to be provided with an explanation of its limitations, including disclosure to appropriate significant adults, supervision and/or treatment teams and governmental authority and to obtain clear information about any documents or documentations in their case records; to participate in the ongoing treatment plan as is appropriate to their developmental level. Play Therapists seek the Parent’s/Legal Guardian’s signature on all consent forms.

Freedom of Choice

Play therapists recognise that minor children do not always have the freedom to choose whether they enter into the therapeutic relationship or with whom they enter into therapy. However, the Play Therapist will advise the legal guardians of the minor child with a rationale for Play Therapy to assist in choosing whether to enter into a therapeutic relationship and to determine which professional(s) may provide for the best interest of the child. Restrictions that limit the choices of clients are fully explained. These may include, but are not limited to insurance/payer restrictions or lack of emergency/after-hour services. Play Therapists also disclose the potential benefits and risks of bringing the child for Play Therapy sessions, their qualifications, any specialised training or lack of training, professional registration, as it relates to the presenting problem and to the client.

Inability to Give Consent

The Play Therapist acts in the best interest of the client, who for reasons of minority or inability cannot give voluntary informed consent and adheres to the laws in Australia.

A.4 Clients Served by Multiple Resources

The Play Therapist must carefully consider the client’s welfare and treatment issues when the client is receiving services from another mental health, educational, or medical professional. The Play Therapist, with written permission from the legal guardian, consults other professional providers to develop clear agreements over coordination of treatment planning in order to avoid confusion and reduce conflict for the client(s).

A.5 Therapist Needs and Values

Therapist Personal Needs

In a therapeutic relationship, the Play Therapist is responsible for maintaining respect for the client and to avoid actions that meet the therapist’s personal or professional needs at the expense of the client.

Therapist Personal Values

Play Therapists recognise the vulnerability of children and do not impose personal attitudes and beliefs on their child clients. However, this does not mean therapists attempt to conduct therapy free of values.

Play Therapists set limits when children’s behavior presents a danger to the child or others. Play Therapists should also be aware of how their own values, attitudes and beliefs affect their clients. Play Therapists should make every effort to convey to child clients and their parents the system or basis on which they, as therapists, make value judgments and decisions in therapy.

A.6 Dual Relationships


Play therapists are alert to and guard against inappropriate multiple role relationships with clients and their significant adults (including, but not limited to socialising, bartering and business arrangements) that could impair professional judgment, increase the risk of harm to the client or exploit the client through personal, social, organisational, political or religious relationships. Play Therapists take appropriate
professional precautions through informed consent, consultation, self-monitoring, clinical supervision and/or documentation in an unavoidable multiple role relationship.

Social/Superior/Subordinate Relationships

Play Therapists do not accept as clients the children of friends, family, superiors or subordinates or others with whom they have social, familial, administrative, supervisory, or evaluative relationships.

A.7 Sexual Intimacies

Current Clients

Play Therapists do not have any type of sexual intimacies with child clients and do not counsel the children of persons with whom they have had or have a sexual relationship.

Encouragement of Intimacies

Play Therapists do not encourage inappropriate physical intimacies from the child or the child client’s significant adults.

Requests for Nurturance

Play Therapists respond positively to the client and offer encouragement, warmth, nurturance, and space to play and work through personal challenges.

Therapeutic Touch

Play Therapists recognise the potentially therapeutic value of touch, a form of non-sexual touch, in play therapy. However, Play Therapists do not engage in any form of therapeutic touch without knowledge of the relevant literature, clinically supervised experience, consideration of the possible benefits and limitations on a case-by-case basis and the informed consent of both the child and his/her legal guardian. Play Therapists who are considering the use of therapeutic touch should also be thoroughly familiar with the Association for Play Therapy (USA) paper on touch.

Inappropriate Touching of Therapist by Child

Play Therapists recognise that children who have been either sexually abused or inappropriately sexualized may initiate sexualized play with or inappropriate touching of the Play Therapist. The Play Therapist needs to draw limits and boundaries around a child engaging with the therapist in any sexualised way. Should there be an incident where the child does initiate sexual contact with the Play Therapist, the incident and intervention should be documented and discussed with the child’s guardian as soon as possible.

Former Clients

Play therapists are responsible for setting and maintaining clearly defined boundaries between professional relationships and other types of relationships with the parent, caregiver legal guardian or custodian both during the Play Therapy process and on termination of the Play Therapy services. Play therapists never engage in sexual intimacies with the parent, caregiver, legal guardian, or custodian of a current child client, and APTA recommends that a Play Therapist never engages in sexual intimacies with the parent, caregiver, legal guardian, or custodian of a previous child client. APTA recognises that following termination of the play therapy process a situation could develop where a Play Therapist may potentially engage in a sexual relationship with the parent, caregiver, legal guardian or custodian of a previous child client. APTA recommends that in such situations the play therapist must seek the support of an experienced clinical supervisor to consider the implications of such involvement and the potential impact on the child who was the client.

A.8 Multiple Clients

When the Play Therapist is called upon to provide services to two or more persons who have a relationship with each other (e.g. siblings, friends), the Play Therapist clarifies at the beginning of therapy the potential benefit or disadvantage of doing so. If the Play Therapist determines that in doing so there is a potential conflict which will undermine treatment, the Play Therapist may clarify, adjust or withdraw after informing the clients of the conflict and then seek appropriate referral for the member that he/she is not able to work with.

A.9 Group Work


The Play Therapist selects clients for Group Play Therapy whose needs are compatible and conducive to the therapeutic process and well-being of each child. A full assessment must be done to assess suitability of each child to be in Group Play Therapy with consideration given to the group composition.

Protecting Clients

Play Therapists using Group Play Therapy take all reasonable precautions in protecting clients from physical and psychological trauma and the risk of retraumatisation.

Confidentiality in Groups

The Play Therapist needs to consider confidentiality issues in group play therapy and the limitations on this, depending upon the age of the child/children and in relation to different settings such as schools or inpatient/residential treatment settings. Careful assessment needs to be made in relation to the selection and inclusion of children in group play therapy and in relation to confidentiality issues.

A.10 Payment

Fee Contract

Play Therapists clarify the financial arrangements with the party responsible for the fee prior to entering into a therapeutic relationship with the client. Play Therapists use reputable collection agencies or legal measures for collecting fees in the event of nonpayment.

Bartering Versus Pro Bono

Play Therapists refrain from accepting goods or services from the party responsible for the fee, but do consider, on a case-by-case basis that bartering may be acceptable in certain cultures. Pro bono service is encouraged in cases of humanitarian work.

A.11 Termination and Referral


Play Therapists need to carefully consider the issue of abandonment. When a break in treatment occurs, the Play Therapist makes appropriate arrangements to avoid abandonment. When such a break is not initiated by the Play Therapist, and the Play Therapist makes a good faith effort to re-initiate treatment, the legal guardian is then advised as to the potentially dangerous or harmful consequences that may arise for the client, and is provided an alternative referral, if appropriate.

Inability to Assist Clients

Play Therapists may sometimes find that they are unable to provide proper professional assistance to a client or that they are planning to re-locate their practice in the foreseeable future. In such situations, it is required that the Play Therapist provide appropriate alternate referral sources.


Play Therapists terminate a therapeutic relationship when treatment goals have been met or it becomes reasonably clear that the client is no longer benefiting, when services are no longer required, when therapy no longer serves the client’s needs or interests, when the responsible party consistently fails to pay fees charged, or when the agency or institution in which the treatment is occurring limits or
discontinues the therapeutic relationship. In any of these circumstances, the Play Therapist clearly outlines the steps that will be taken toward termination, shares it with the guardian of the client and documents it.


B.1 Parents

Parents in Conflict

Play Therapists comply with federal and state laws and court orders when assisting guardians involved in legal conflicts, such as divorce and custody disputes, when that conflict or the consequences of that conflict threatens to interfere or undermine the effectiveness of the therapeutic relationship with the child or the welfare of the child. This compliance may take the form of reporting abuse, impending and
foreseeable harm/danger to the child, or necessary breach of confidentiality.

Custodial and Non-custodial Parents

Play Therapists are cognisant of, and recognise that custodial and non-custodial guardians may have specific and differing rights and responsibilities under law for the welfare of their children, including, but not limited to access to records and involvement in treatment planning.

B.2 Family

Family Involvement

Play Therapists recognise that children often have family members and other significant adults that have influence in the child’s psychosocial growth and development, and strive to gain understanding of the roles and involvement of these other individuals so that they may provide positive therapeutic support where appropriate.

Home-based Intervention

Play Therapists make a reasonable effort to provide privacy for the child during home-based therapy.

Family Interventions

Play Therapists never disclose information about one family member to another member without informed written consent.


C.1 Right to Privacy

Respect for Privacy

Play Therapists strive to balance respect for the child’s right to privacy with the guardian’s legal right to be and remain informed, and disclose relevant information to guardians except where otherwise provided by state law. Play Therapists follow the dictates of the laws that govern disclosure of confidential information while being mindful of the child’s best interests. Play Therapists release only that information that is relevant to the request of parties outside of the family once informed consent forms have been signed by the guardian.

Waiver of Client’s Right

Minor children cannot waive their right to privacy, but disclosure of material that is in the best interest of the child may be waived by their legal guardian. The minor child needs to be informed of the information being disclosed and the reason for the disclosure.

Legal Requirements

Play Therapists keep information confidential except when disclosure is required to prevent clear and imminent danger to the child client or others. Play Therapists consult with other health care professionals, clinical supervisors and the law when in doubt. Play Therapists also become cognisant of state and federal laws related to confidentiality and comply with it. The Play Therapist informs the client and his/her legal guardian of the limitations of confidentiality and identifies foreseeable situations in which confidentiality might be breached.

Contagious Diseases

The Play Therapist is responsible for taking reasonable precautions to prevent the spread of contagious diseases and endangerment to others.

Court Ordered Disclosure

When the court orders the release of confidential information without permission from the child’s legal guardian, Play Therapists request the court hear the potential dangers to the client in doing so.

Minimal Disclosure

When circumstances require the disclosure of confidential information, only that information is revealed that is germane to the request and only as long as the clinician does not foresee harm as a result of this disclosure. Information that might adversely affect the treatment of the client requires a request for privileged information.


Play Therapists implement reasonable precautions to ensure that all ancillary and support personnel who have access to privileged information maintain privacy and confidentiality of the client.

Treatment Teams

The existence of a treatment team and its composition are disclosed by the Play Therapist to the client and legal guardian(s).

C.2 Documents


Play Therapists maintain documentation in accordance with law(s), regulations and agency/institutional procedures in order to provide support for therapeutic intervention and the rendering of professional services.

Confidentiality of Documents

Play Therapists are responsible for the safety and confidentiality of any documentation they create, maintain, transfer, or destroy, whether the records are written, taped, digitised, or stored in any other medium.

Permission to Electronically Document or Observe

Play Therapists obtain signed permission from clients and their legal guardians before video or audio taping the session/s and include information about how long the video or audio material will be kept and for what purposes it will be used.

Public Use and Reproduction of Client Expression and Therapy Sessions

Play Therapists do not make or permit any public use or reproduction of the client’s play, artwork, music, or other creative expression through videotaping, audio recording, photography, or otherwise duplicating or permitting a third-party observation in art galleries, mental health facilities, schools or other public places.

Client Access

Under the Australian Privacy Act, Play Therapists provide access to copies of the records when requested to do so by the legal guardian of minor children. The request for the records needs to be made in writing and seven days notice is required Access to documents is limited to those parts of the documents that do not include confidential information related to another client. When possible, Play Therapists should attempt to respond to a subpoena in a way that protects the best interest of the client, except as required by law.

Disclosure or Transfer

Play Therapists obtain written permission from the legal guardian of the client to disclose or transfer records to legitimate third parties unless doing so would compromise the client.

C.3 Research and Training

Disguise Identity

Play Therapists engaged in training, research, or publication are required to disguise the data to ensure the anonymity of the individuals involved.

Agreement for Identification

Public release of information regarding a specific client is permissible only when the client or legal guardian is fully aware of the material, has reviewed it and has agreed to its public release. Guidelines for public release of client information should be included in the informed consent document.

C.4 Consultation


Play Therapists discuss information from consultations with significant adults or other professionals only with those persons having a direct bearing on therapeutic intervention. Every effort is made to protect client identity and avoid undue invasion of privacy.

Cooperating Agencies

Prior to sharing information, Play Therapists take reasonable care to ensure that there are defined policies in other agencies serving the client that effectively protect the confidentiality of the client.


D.1 Knowledge of Standards

Play Therapists will maintain current and accurate knowledge of statutes, regulations and ethics codes, and are responsible for reading and understanding these Play Therapy Practice Requirements.

D.2 Professional Competencies

New Areas of Specialty

Play Therapists practice a new specialty after appropriate education, training, and supervised experience. Play Therapists take steps to ensure the competence of their work while developing skills in the new specialty.

Employment Qualifications

Play Therapists accept employment for positions only for which they are qualified. Qualifications are determined by education, training, supervised experience, state, national, and international qualifications, and professional experience. Play Therapists hire only individuals who are qualified and competent.

Monitor Effectiveness

Play Therapists monitor their effectiveness as professionals and pursue ongoing training, education, and supervision.

Ethical Consultation

Play Therapists consult with knowledgeable professionals concerning questions regarding ethical obligations or professional practices.

Continuing Education/Training

Play Therapists acquire continuing education in Play Therapy for professional development, to maintain awareness of current practices and research in Play Therapy, and to keep current with research regarding diverse and /or special populations with whom they work.

D.3 Advertising and Soliciting Clients

Accurate Advertising

Play Therapists and their employees accurately represent their competency, education, training, professional membership level and experience relevant to the practice of Play Therapy.


Play Therapists do not solicit testimonials from clients. However, when such are freely offered by the client or guardian, the Play Therapist makes every effort to protect the client’s or guardian’s identity.

Statements by Others

Play Therapists strive to ensure that statements made by others about them, their service, or the profession of play therapy is accurate.

Products and Training Advertisements

Play Therapists do not inappropriately use the power of their positions to promote their services or training events. Play Therapists may adopt textbooks and materials they have authored for instructional purposes.

Professional Association Involvement

Play Therapists are encouraged to be actively involved in APTA to promote the development, effectiveness, and improvement of Play Therapy.

D.4 Qualifications

Qualifications Stated

Play Therapists state only professional education/training earned and takes responsibility for correcting any misrepresentations. This includes Mental Health qualifications and Play Therapy qualifications.

Qualification Guidelines

Play Therapists adhere to the guidelines of qualifications and registration that have been determined by the relevant issuing body or bodies and by the relevant professional associations.

Misrepresentation of Qualifications

Play Therapists never misrepresent their qualifications or knowingly associate with others who do so.

D.5 Public Responsibility


Play Therapists do not discriminate against clients, the client’s guardians, students, or supervisees based upon their age, culture, disability, ethnic group, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.

Sexual Harassment

Play therapists never encourage or participate in sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is defined as undesired sexual advances, solicitation of sexual favors, unwanted physical contact, sexual solicitation, physical advances, or verbal or nonverbal conduct that is explicitly or implicitly sexual, that occurs within the professional activities or role, and that either 1) is unwanted, offensive, repeated, or interferes with the individual’s therapy or work performance and creates a hostile workplace or therapeutic environment, and the play therapist is told this; or 2) is perceived as harassment to a reasonable third-party in the given circumstances. Sexual harassment may exist after a single intense or severe act or multiple persistent or pervasive acts.

Third Party Reports

Play Therapists are unbiased, accurate, and honest in disclosing their professional activities and
assessments to appropriate third parties.

Media Presentations

Play Therapists providing advice or comment through public lectures, presentations, and media programs take precautionary measures to ensure that 1) information is based on current models of practice; 2) the information is consistent with these ethical practice guidelines; and 3) receiving the information does not mean that a professional therapeutic relationship has been established.

D.6 Responsibility to Other Professionals

Different Approaches

Play Therapists respect theoretical approaches to play therapy that diverge from their own. Play Therapists are aware and acknowledge traditions and practices of other professional disciplines.

Personal Public Statement

Play Therapists clarify that they are speaking from their own distinct personal and professional perspectives and that they are not speaking on behalf of APTA, other Play Therapists or the field of Play Therapy, when offering a personal statement in public context.

Clients Served by Others

Play Therapists are required to have a signed release form from clients to inform other professionals and seek to establish collaborative professional relationships in the best interest of the client.


E.1. Relationships with Employers and Employees

Definition of Role

Play Therapists delineate for their employers and employees the boundaries, limitations, and levels of their professional roles.


Play Therapists may choose to establish working agreements with clinical supervisors, colleagues, and subordinates regarding Play Therapy Best Practices, including but not limited to workload, reciprocal responsibilities and accountability. Such agreements are specified and made known to those affected.

Disruptive or Damaging Conditions

Play Therapists inform their employers about disruptive or damaging conditions affecting the Play Therapist’s professional responsibilities.


Play Therapists participate in professional review and evaluation by clinical supervisor, employer or peer group.

Professional Development

Play Therapists are available for providing professional development to staff regarding the benefits and limitations of Play Therapy.


Play Therapists’ goals are communicated to staff and other professional associates when requested and/or when appropriate.

Professional Conduct

Play Therapists maintain the highest possible standards of professional conduct in the work setting.

Exploitive Relationships

Play Therapists do not engage in exploitive relationships with supervisees, students, staff, or other subordinates.

Employer Policies

Play Therapists strive to reach agreement regarding these Play Therapy Best Practices that allow for changes in institutional policy conducive to the therapeutic relationship.

E.2 Consultation

Providing Consultation

Play Therapists choosing to consult with other professionally competent people about their clients avoid placing the consultant in a conflict of interest.

Consultant Competency

Play Therapists ascertain the organisation represented or individual consultant has competencies and resources to provide adequate consulting services and referral resources.

Consultant Role

Play Therapists who choose to serve as consultants to other mental health professionals should develop a comprehensible understanding of the problem, treatment goals, recommend and discuss possible outcomes for their client, and encourage growth in independent functioning.

E.3 Fees for Referral

Accepting Fees from Agencies

Play Therapists refuse a private fee or remuneration for providing services to persons who are entitled to such services through the Play Therapist’s employment setting.

Referral Fees

Play Therapists do not accept referral fees.

E.4 Subcontracting

Play Therapists subcontracting Play Therapy services to a third party inform clients of the limitations of confidentiality prior to or during the intake session.


F.1 General

Play Therapists recognise the limitations of their competence and perform only those assessment services for which they are trained and in accordance with the ethical expectations of their primary licensing/certification body.

F.2 Proper Diagnosis of Mental Disorders

Proper Diagnosis

Where an assessment for a diagnosis is required or recommended, Play Therapists will follow the Australian requirements in relation to who is able to provide that assessment and diagnosis.

Sensitivity to Individual vs. Group Differences

Play Therapists recognise that culture, gender, developmental age, and chronological age affect how Clients’ symptoms are defined. Clients’ life experiences are considered in diagnosing mental, developmental and educational disorders. Play therapists are sensitive to the impact of both individual and group differences on the context of the client’s life and the manifestation of their symptoms.


G.1 Educators and Trainers

Relationship Boundaries with Students and Supervisees

Play Therapists clearly define and maintain ethical relationships with their students and supervisees, being aware that a differential in power exists.

Sexual Relationships

Play Therapists never engage in sexual intimacies with students or supervisees and never subject them to sexual harassment.

Contributions to Research

Play Therapists properly assign credit to students or supervisees for their contributions.

Supervision Preparation

Play Therapists offering clinical supervision services are adequately trained in clinical supervision methods and supervisory skills.

Responsibility for Services to Clients

Play Therapist supervisors ensure that Play Therapy services provided to clients are professional and of
high quality.


Play Therapist supervisors do not recommend unqualified students or supervisees for certification, licensure, employment, or completion of an academic or training program.

G.2 Training Programs


Play Therapy trainers and training organisations orient beginning students to program expectations, including but not limited to the following; 1) knowledge and skills required for completion of the training, 2) theoretical model(s) to be covered, 3) basis for student evaluation, 4) experiences in self-growth and self-disclosure, 5) clinical experiences, sites, and supervision expectations, 6) dismissal procedures, and 7) current employment prospects for trainees.

Teaching Ethics

Play Therapist clinical supervisors or trainers make students and supervisees aware of the ethical requirements and standards of the practice.

Assigning Ownership

Play Therapists give credit to the work of other researchers and/or clinicians when making presentations that includes or references that work. Proper credit (name and date) shall attach to all materials and modes of dissemination, including but not limited to video and PowerPoint presentations

G.3 Trainees and Supervisees


Play Therapy clinical supervisors are aware of academic and/or personal limitations of the trainees and supervisees; and therefore, provide assistance and/or dismissal if appropriate.


Play Therapists make students and supervisees aware of the ramifications of self-disclosure, both positive and negative and ensure that trainees adhere to all standards of ethical conduct in doing so.

Personal Therapy for Trainees and Supervisees

Personal Therapy is an essential requirement for becoming an Australian Registered Play Therapist (ARPT). When a Play Therapist trainee requests therapy, clinical supervisors or trainers provide them with a minimum of three (3) appropriate resources, whenever possible.

Standards for Trainees and Supervisees

Play Therapy trainees and supervisees preparing to become Australian Play Therapists Association Registered Play Therapists or Australian Play Therapists Association Registered Supervisors review and become familiar with these APTA Best Practice guidelines and, when deemed appropriate, apply them with the same rigour as is expected of those who are Australian Play Therapists Association Registered Play Therapists or Australian Play Therapists Association Registered Supervisors.


H.1 Research Responsibilities

Purpose of Research

Play Therapy research should be designed to enhance both the knowledge and clinical efficacy base of the discipline and utilise the most appropriate and current empirical and statistical procedures. Play Therapist researchers consult with the ethics standards regarding research promulgated by their parent licensing or registration body, including, but not limited to the Psychotherapists and Counsellors Federation of Australia, the Australian Counsellors Association, Australian Association of Social Workers, and the Psychology Board of Australia.

Use of Human Subjects

Play Therapists follow guidelines of ethical principles, federal and state laws, institutional/agency regulations, and scientific protocol, when planning, conducting and reporting research using human subjects.

Deviation from Standard Practices

Play Therapists pursue consultation and abide by rigorous criteria to safeguard research subjects when a research problem necessitates deviation from standard research practices.

Precautions to Avoid Injury

Play Therapists conducting research are responsible for the subjects’ welfare and take reasonable precautions to avoid injurious psychological, physical, social, emotional and developmental effects on their subjects.

Principal Researcher Responsibility

The principal Play Therapy researcher is responsible for ethical research practice; however, co-researchers share ethical obligations and responsibility for their actions

Minimal Interference

Play Therapist researchers take precautions to avoid disruptions in subjects’ lives.


Play Therapist researchers take into consideration diversity in research issues with special populations. They seek consultation when needed.

H.2 Informed Consent

Topics Disclosed

Play Therapist researchers use understandable, developmentally appropriate language in obtaining informed consent from research participants and that;

  • Specifically explains the research purpose and procedures;
  • Identifies experimental or relatively untried procedures;
  • Describes the possible discomforts and risks;
  • Describes expected outcomes;
  • Discloses possible alternatives for subjects;
  • Answers any questions about the research procedures;
  • Describes any limitations; and
  • Advises the subjects’ about their rights to withdraw and discontinue at any time.


Play Therapists understand the issues involved in the use of deception in clinical research, and do not conduct a study involving deception

Voluntary Participation

Participation in research is voluntary and without penalty for refusal to participate.

Confidentiality of Research Data

Information obtained about research participants is confidential. When there is the possibility that others may obtain access to such information, ethical research practice requires that the possibility, together with the plans for protecting confidentiality, be explained to participants.

Persons Incapable of Giving Informed Consent

When a client is incapable of giving informed consent due to language or developmental limitations, Play Therapy researchers provide an explanation to the subject in the simplest possible way, and obtain client agreement for participation and appropriate consent from the client’s legal guardian.

Commitments to Subjects

Play Therapist researchers take measures to honour all commitments to research subjects.

Explanations of Research Study

Play Therapist researchers remove all possible misconceptions regarding the intent of the study and provide safeguards to avoid harm to the client through explanation of the study.

Agreements to Cooperate

Play Therapists who agree to be co-researchers or co-authors have an obligation to be complete and accurate with information.

Informed Consent for Grant Providers

Play Therapist researchers extend informed consent to and in accordance with a grant provider’s guidelines at the outset of the study and continue to do so as conditions of the research study change. Play Therapist researchers ensure that feedback and acknowledgment of research is given to grant providers.

H.3 Reporting Results

Information Affecting Outcome

Play Therapist researchers clearly describe all relevant variables that may have affected the outcome of the study.

Honesty in Research

Play Therapists avoid engaging in fraudulent research, distortion or misrepresentation of data, or deliberately biasing their results.

Reporting Research Results

Play Therapists promote the growth of their profession by reporting negative and positive research results deemed to be of professional value.

Identity of Subjects

Play Therapist researchers protect the identity of respective subjects.

Replication Studies

Play Therapists cooperate with researchers wishing to replicate studies/research.

H.4 Publication

Recognition of Others

Play Therapists do not commit plagiarism. Play therapists cite previous work on the topic, adhere to copyright laws, and give appropriate credit.


Play Therapists credit joint authorship, acknowledgments, citations, or other significant contributions to research or concept development. The first author is the primary contributor; additional contributors are listed in decreasing order of their contribution.

Student Research

The student is listed as the principle author of a manuscript as appropriate.

Professional Review

Play Therapist reviewers must respect the confidentiality and proprietary rights of authors submitting manuscripts.


The information contained herein is promoted by the Australian Play Therapy Association (APTA) as its Play Therapy Best Practices. This information does not replace or substitute any laws, standards, guidelines, rules or regulations promoted by a practitioner’s primary licensing board or professional registration body (e.g. AASW, PACFA, ACA, AHPRA, Psychology Board), and APTA urges and expects all practitioners to comply, first and foremost, with such laws and standards. Awareness of these Play Therapy Best Practices is considered by APTA to be important when practicing play therapy, whether by an Australian Play Therapists Association Registered Play Therapist or an Australian Play Therapists Association Registered Play Therapist Supervisor. Practitioners are entirely responsible for their own professional activity. APTA disclaims any and all liability for any loss or injury to any member, client, or other individual caused by any decision made, action taken, omission, misdiagnosis, or malpractice by any practitioner observing these Play Therapy Best Practices. Practitioners are also responsible for adherence to any ‘best practices’ or ‘ethical guidelines’ their parent licensing organization may promote.

APTA would like to acknowledge and thank the Association for Play Therapy, USA, for allowing APTA to use and adapt their material.