What is play therapy?

Play therapy is a technique used in child counselling to assist children who are experiencing emotional difficulties. It is an expressive therapy using toys and play to allow the child to explore their emotional world. The child is enabled in this process with a play therapist who is trained to build a sound therapeutic relationship and to guide any emotional expression from the child.

Why is play therapy so helpful for children?

Play therapy is helpful for children because it recognises the importance of child’s play for their overall psychosocial development. As a therapeutic technique, it taps into a child’s natural mode of expression, through toys and play. In the unique conditions created in the play therapy playroom, and with the trained play therapist, children are able to express themselves freely, using toys, games, and role play. 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.

Can I become a registered play therapist in Australia?

The Australian Play Therapists Association offers three tiers of membership: Affiliate, Associate, and Registered Play Therapist. The qualifications for Registered Play Therapists are specifically for mental health professionals who meet the requirements of the Australian Play Therapists Association.

If I become a Registered Play Therapist of APTA does this mean that I can use the title APTA registered play therapist?

Yes, this does mean that you can use the title APTA registered play therapist. As a Registered Play Therapist you are able to also use the APTA logo on promotional material and communication.

Do APTA registered play therapists need to follow any ethical guidelines?

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.

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 counsellors and psychotherapists working with children, sound knowledge of theory, practices and ethical principles around mental health difficulties is critical.

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 Affiliate or Associate Member. When you complete your Play Therapy training please consider applying to join as a Registered Play Therapist.

I am an educator (teacher/child care worker) and I have trained in social sciences/have completed a BA with a major in psychology. I would like to become a registered play therapist with APTA. What do I need to do?

To become a registered play therapist with APTA you need to gain a qualification in a mental health field such as counselling, social work, psychology, or occupational therapy, at the level required by APTA (click here for more information). Further training in play therapy with a recognised provider is a prerequisite to becoming a Registered Play Therapist with APTA. You are welcome to join APTA as an Affiliate or Associate Member as you work towards the requirements for membership as Registered Play Therapist. Please see our membership page for more information.

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

You are most welcome to join APTA as an Affiliate Member.

Can I apply as an international member to APTA?

APTA will accept International applicants. There are 2 categories – International Associate and International Professional. Please see membership criteria for full requirements.

Can I discuss with someone at APTA about the situation with my child to see if play therapy would be recommended?

APTA is not able to enter into discussions around the needs of individual children. We recommend you go to the APTA Registered Play Therapists webpage is a hyperlink or something needed here? to see if there is someone in your area who is a clinical member of APTA and a registered play therapist.

What ages of children are suitable for play therapy?

Non-directive and child-centered play therapists who have had extensive play therapy training, can potentially work with children from 2 to 12- years. Those working in more directive play therapy approaches often work with children from around 6 to 11-years old.

How long do children need to see a play therapist for?

This depends on the individual child and family and on the child’s history and current situation. Play therapy may be used for short term trauma debriefing if assessed as appropriate, may be medium term or could be long term, with children with backgrounds of complex trauma. This will be dependent on the play therapist’s assessment and recommendations and the play therapy modality being used.

Can I get professional indemnity insurance and public liability cover through APTA for my private practice?

APTA does not offer professional indemnity and public liability insurance cover with any insurance companies as this is done in conjunction with the play therapist’s mental health registering body, board or association.

Does APTA have a complaints process?

If the complaint is about an issue to do with APTA, your complaint will be passed on to the APTA committee and dealt with by the appropriate officer:
If the complaint is about play therapy per se, then we are able to liaise with the person making the complaint about their concerns of the modality;
If the complaint is about the professional practice or conduct of a clinical member, then we suggest to the complainant to contact that practitioner’s regulatory body. APTA does not function as a regulatory body for members.

What are the benefits of APTA membership?

The APTA membership demonstrates your interest in the field of play therapy, and provides access to discounted play therapy training, latest play therapy news, networking and professional tools.

How do I find a Registered Play Therapist or a Registered Play Therapist Supervisor?

Click on the link to find a Registered Play Therapist or a Registered Play Therapist Supervisor in your area.

What is the evidence for the efficacy of Play Therapy?

There has been a significant amount of research done into the efficacy of play therapy with children. For more information on the history and effectiveness of play therapy please follow this link to the American Association of Play Therapy website:[http://www.a4pt.org] You may also like to visit the website for the Center for Play Therapy, University of North Texas [www.centerforplaytherapy.com] And the Evidence Based Child Therapy Website [http://evidencebasedchildtherapy.com]

The following materials also have information about research and Play Therapy with children.
Baggerly, J.N., Ray, D.C., & Bratton, S. (2010) Child-Centered Play Therapy Research: The Evidence Base for Effective Practice
Bratton, S., Ray, D., & Rhine, T (2005) ‘The Efficacy of Play Therapy with Children: A Meta- Analytic Review of Treatment Outcomes’ in Professional Psychology, Research & Practice Vol 36. NO.4 376-390.
Landreth, G., et al (2005), World of Play Therapy Literature, 4th Ed. Center for Play Therapy, University of North Texas
Evidence Based Child Therapy – http://evidencebasedchildtherapy.com