Why is Play Therapy helpful for children and families?

Children use play as a natural form of communication in everyday life and opportunities to play are important for every child’s development. However, play therapy is a different experience than everyday play for the child, as the specialised skills of the trained play therapist enables the child to enter into a therapeutic relationship wherein the child can safely express, explore and make sense of their difficult and sometimes painful life experiences. Play Therapy builds on the child’s inner resources and strengths, which are supported by the therapeutic relationship to bring about growth, development and healing in the child.

Who founded play therapy?

This therapy originates from Carl Rogers’ non-directive psychotherapy and in his characterisation of the optimal therapeutic conditions. Virginia Axline adapted Carl Rogers’s theories to child therapy in 1946 and is widely considered the founder of this therapy.

Can I discuss with someone at APTA, the situation with my child, to see if Play Therapy would be recommended?

Because APTA is an association that represents Play Therapists and other creative therapies, APTA is not able to enter into discussions around the needs of individual children. APTA does not provide any therapeutic or consultancy services for individuals and/or families. Should you have a query about Play Therapy as a therapeutic intervention for you or someone you know, you may need to speak with you GP, or search for a professional in your area.

Do I need to be a member of APTA to practice Play Therapy?

No. APTA works to provide membership for professionals to the Association only, not to be able to practice Play Therapy. Currently, there are no laws in Australia which limit a professional from practising Play Therapy or other expressive therapies. Therefore, APTA is an Association which strives to uphold standards and ethics within the field, advocating for the use of play therapy within the scope and field of therapeutic, mental health-based professions

What are the benefits of joining APTA?

Joining APTA allows you to be a member of a specialist association within the field of Mental Health, children and families, representing different geographic locations and expressive therapeutic modalities. APTA will provide you with opportunities to network with other professionals and will provide members with newsletters, professional development opportunities and expertise.

How can I be recognised as a member with APTA?

To become a play therapist within Australia and apply for membership with APTA, you must hold a current Mental Health Qualification (e.g. Counseling, Psychology, and Social Work). Other qualification fields that can practice with a mental health scope also include Occupational Therapy, Mental Health Nursing, Psychotherapy and a Master’s level in Art Therapy, Music Therapy and Creative Arts Therapy. Other criteria will need to be met according to which membership category you are choosing to apply for. Please see our membership’s page for more information.

Why does an APTA criterion differ from other Play Therapy Associations?

The main differing criteria for APTA are that all members (other than Affiliate members) must hold a Mental Health Qualification in order to apply for membership. APTA upholds its foundational beliefs that Play Therapy is an intervention carried out by professionals who already have the skills and training to practice therapeutically with others. APTA believes that professionals must uphold a primary qualification in the field of mental health first, before undergoing any practice in a secondary qualification/training which is that of Play Therapy and/or other expressive therapies.

Why do I need to have a mental health qualification to become a Registered Play Therapist with APTA?

APTA believes it is essential for Registered Play Therapists to have a mental health qualification, as this lays the foundations for a sound knowledge of mental health difficulties and for an understanding of the ethical principles of counselling/psychotherapy. APTA view’s Play Therapy as a modality/intervention rather than a primary qualification on its own.

Why do I need to be registered with a different registration board/association?

APTA requires members on application, to be registered with a registration board or association relevant to their Mental Health Qualification and practice. These may include The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), the Australian Association for Social Work (AASW), the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA), the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia (OTBA) or the Australian Counselling Association (ACA). For members who reside outside of Australia, they will need to belong to a Registration board/association relevant to where they live according to their qualification.
APTA requires this criterion to be met so that all APTA members follow and abide to the ethics and professional practice set by their registration board/association.

I have a mental health qualification at the level required by APTA and am training in Play Therapy. Can I join APTA?

You are most welcome to join APTA as an Associate Member. When you complete your Play Therapy training please consider applying to join as either an APTA Provisional Clinical Member or a Clinical Member once you have completed all the necessary requirements.

Can I apply as an international member to the Australian Play Therapists Association?

APTA has a category specific to professionals who reside outside of Australia. APTA recognises a growing number of professionals who practice Play Therapy and other expressive therapies, and who want to belong to an Association. For information on applying for membership as an International member, please visit Become a member on our website.

I am a teacher/nurse/childcare worker/children’s support worker/parent/interested in play therapy. Can I become a member of APTA?

If you do not hold a Mental Health qualification and are not currently working in a therapeutic field with children and families, you will not be able to apply for Associate, International Associate, International Professional or Registered Play Therapist membership with APTA. This is because you will not be able to meet the criteria for these membership levels. You however are most welcome to join APTA as an Affiliate member, which is a category that recognises people’s interest in this field. Affiliate members will receive the same information and relevant member benefits.

I have studied a Mental Health qualification in the past. Am I able to become a Play Therapist and be recognised by APTA as a current member?

You will need to hold a minimum Bachelor degree in a Mental Health qualification as well as belong to a registering body/board relevant to your Mental Health qualification. You will also need to obtain post graduate level training in Play Therapy and work towards the requirements of APTA for membership as a Play Therapist with APTA.

Can I become a Registered Play Therapist in Australia?

The Australian Play Therapists Association offers Clinical Membership and Registration as a Play Therapist for mental health professionals who meet the requirements of the Australian Play Therapists Association. For more information on this membership category, please see the Memberships page for further details.

Do APTA Registered Play Therapists need to follow any ethical guidelines? Registered Play Therapist?

APTA Registered Play Therapists need to follow the ethical requirements of their mental health association, body or board for clinical practice and agree to follow the APTA Best Practice Guidelines.