Play Therapy Graduate Certificate

Play Therapy Graduate Certificate



Begin developing a specialty in Play Therapy today!

The Play Therapy Graduate Certificate is a 12-credit hour program designed to prepare students to work with children and families in a developmentally appropriate way in both school counseling and community settings. Play therapy is a structured, theoretically based approach to counseling that builds on the normal communicative and learning processes of children. The curative powers inherent in play are used in many ways. Counselors strategically utilize play therapy to help children express what is troubling them when they do not have the verbal language to express their thoughts and feelings. Research supports the effectiveness of play therapy with children experiencing a wide variety of social, emotional, behavioral, and learning problems, including: children whose problems are related to life stressors, such as divorce, death, relocation, hospitalization, chronic illness, assimilate stressful experiences, physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and natural disasters.

The Play Therapy Graduate Certificate is an online program and students are required to attend live class meetings on Zoom throughout the semester from 5:30pm – 8:30pm. The curriculum includes coursework in the (1) history, contemporary theories, and clinical applications of play therapy, (2) an advanced study of child development, and (3) methods of supporting parents, caregivers, and families. The program includes an emphasis on play therapy techniques for various mental health issues including supporting children who have experienced trauma.

The certificate program is available to students who have completed a master’s degree in counseling, social work, or psychology and want additional training specifically in play therapy.  Current graduate students may also complete the Play Therapy Graduate Certificate.

The Play Therapy Graduate Certificate meets the educational requirements as specified by the Association for Play Therapy (APT) for the Registered Play Therapist (RPT) and School-Based Registered Play Therapist (SB-RPT) credential.  The Graduate Certificate is recognition of your academic achievement and will enhance your professional standing.

Please contact Dr. Jonathan Ricks with any questions about the Play Therapy Graduate Certificate at



Required Courses:

CNS 5810 Introduction to Play Therapy, no prerequisite, offered in Summer I or Fall

CNS 5820 Play Therapy Theories and Techniques, no prerequisite, offered in Spring only

Select 2 of the following courses:

CNS 5815 Sand Tray in Counseling, no prerequisite, offered in Spring only

CNS 5825 Neuroscience and Play Therapy, no prerequisite, offered in Fall only

CNS 5830 Play Therapy for Specific Challenges, no prerequisite, offered in Summer 2 only

CNS 5840 Filial and Family Play Therapy, prerequisite is CNS 5810, offered in Fall only


Play Therapy Graduate Certificate students are eligible for federal financial aid if they qualify.


Students who are currently completing a master’s degree at UNCP can apply for the Play Therapy Graduate Certificate here:

Students who have already graduated with a master’s degree and wish to come back to school for the Play Therapy Graduate Certificate can apply here:

Applicants may apply to begin the program in the summer and fall terms. Once you have submitted your application, please contact Dr. Jonathan Ricks at


Start Term

Application Deadline

Spring (January)

December 1

Summer 1 (May)

May 1

Fall (August)

July 15

Play therapy certificate students are now eligible for federal financial aid.  For more information about financial aid, please visit