Course Overview

The Postgraduate Diploma/Certificate in Practice Based Play Therapy has been developed to meet the identified needs of practitioners in the play therapy sector who wish to pursue accredited programmes of study in a flexible manner, complimenting and supporting continued employment.  This part-time blended learning programme of study builds on practical experience, enhancing the learner’s skills through exposure to theory, policy, research and work-based learning opportunities. If there is sufficient interest from participants approval may be sought from the University for the delivery of a follow-on programme leading to the award of an MA in Practice Based Play Therapy.

The course is run in collaboration with The Academy of Play and Child Psychotherapy (APAC), course developers, and is validated by NUI Galway. APAC has a sound history with much experience in offering high quality, practice based, play therapy education and training.  They are national leaders in developing and providing training to become a certified play therapist, and continual professional development for those interested in play therapy including Filial Play, Coaching/Mentoring, Supervision for Play and Creative Arts Therapists. They have also established an international reputation working strategically with governments and UNICEF in (e.g.) Malaysia, the Middle East, Europe, South Korea, and Africa to develop child protection policies and initiate Play Therapy Training. This programme aims to meet the demands for flexible routes of acquiring qualifications in the field of practice based play therapy.

Applications and Selections

Apply online at  from 26th January, 2015.

- Supporting documents include form of ID (birth cert/passport) and transcript of degree results obtained). Applications will be assessed on a rolling basis and early application is advisable.


Maria Brady

Programme Administrator

Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development

NUI Galway

Tel: +353 91 495442


Who Teaches this Course

Requirements and Assessment

The taught part of the programme each year is delivered on the campus of NUI, Galway. Certificate and Diploma dates are Tuesday, 7th July to Tuesday, 21st July 2015 inclusive (9.30 am to 5.00 pm).  In order to complete each year of the programme 100 hours of clinical work with the children per year must be achieved in addition to set written assignment work. 



You will be required to complete a number of module assessments. The specific nature of these assessments will differ from module to module depending on the learning outcomes. All students will be obliged to pass a practice placement, have a satisfactory report from their clinical/practice supervisor and complete the stipulated number of practice hours (100 hours per award).


Postgraduate students are expected to demonstrate explicitly their knowledge, skills and competencies to practice as a Play Therapist in three distinct ways:

  • via written work
  • via clinical supervision
  • via clinical practice



Key Facts

Entry Requirements

Candidates must have at least two years’ experience working with children in the relevant sectors and should normally possess a first or second class honours degree in either psychology, education, childhood studies or social work, or have a recognised equivalent professional qualification in a health, social services or education-related field.


In exceptional circumstances candidates without a degree or a recognised equivalent qualification, but with significant experience of working with children, may apply.  In such cases a portfolio of evidence demonstrating their knowledge and experience of the sector and an ability to study at this level will be required. An interview will also be carried out by the programme board.   Non-standard applicants are encouraged to apply immediately as it may take up to 6 weeks to process your application and associated documents.


Please contact the Programme Administrator for more information on this application process.

Additional Requirements


1 year Certificate, 2 year Diploma

Next start date

Tuesday, 7th July, 2015 to Tuesday, 21st July, 2015 (Cert & Diploma)

A Level Grades ()

Average intake


Closing Date

The application closing date is the 22nd May, 2015.  Applications will be assessed on a rolling basis.

Next start date

Tuesday, 7th July, 2015 to Tuesday, 21st July, 2015 (Cert & Diploma)

NFQ level


Mode of study

Block release (summer school)

ECTS weighting

Certificate (30) Diploma (60)



PAC code

Course Outline

The taught element of the programme is organised as a 15-day residential summer school at NUI Galway, followed by independent study, course assignments and a clinical practice component of 100 hours working with children.  This workload normally requires a minimum of one academic year to complete. You are supported in your assignment work by your course tutor and are supervised as part of your clinical practice module. 


Year 1 - Postgraduate Certificate

  • Orientation to setting up and developing practice-based play therapy within an integrated holistic model: pre-requisites, equipment, ethical framework, contracts, role of clinical supervision, clinical governance
  • Using symbolic play therapy tools and metaphor safely in a non directive approach with individual children: art – painting and drawing, clay, creative visualisation, movement, music, puppets, sand play, therapeutic story telling
  • Using creative arts therapies (as a means processing and reaching the unconscious): child development models, neuroscience evidence, psychological theories
  • Practicum: clinical placement



 Year two - Postgraduate Diploma

  • Working therapeutically and developing skills with children – developing metaphorical play therapy skills at an advanced level
  • Working therapeutically and representing children with severe problems – therapeutic decision taking based on deepening skills for working with more severe problems
  • Establishing a play therapy service – critically reviewing existing materials and integrating the therapeutic tool-kit with practice and research
  • Practicum: clinical placement

Students who undertake this programme are currently working with children or have arranged to do so before the start of the course. This will enable you to apply theory to practice from the beginning and undertake the clinical practice component of the programme.  You will also need to become a registered member of PT(IRl) before commencing the programme so that your clinical practice is governed by a relevant code of ethics.


Download 2014 Play Therapy Brochure 

Further Education

You may progress through the programme on a phased basis, initially taking the Certificate programme and then the Diploma award.  An MA in Practice-based Play Therapy is currently in development at NUI Galway. />

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

The principles of play therapy are used by a wide range of professionals. Students who successfully complete the programme are certified play therapists and coupled with their previous qualification, work in a variety of settings including occupational therapy, teaching, educational psychology, nursing, social work, professional carers and teaching assistant posts.  Using play and creative arts therapies they work with children who experience emotional, conduct, social and mental health problems.

Who’s Suited to This Course

Learning Outcomes

Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€Cert - €3,600 & Dip - €3,800 per year

Fees: Tuition

Fees: Student levy

Fees: Non EU

Find out More

Maria Brady

Programme Administrator

Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development

NUI Galway

Tel: +353 91 495442


Practice Based Play Therapy (P Cert/Dip)