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


The curriculum is comprised of the following four hybrid courses:

CNS 5810 Introduction to Play Therapy (3)

CNS 5820 Play Therapy Theories and Techniques (3)

CNS 5830 Play Therapy for Specific Challenges (3)

CNS 5840 Filial and Family Play Therapy (3)

CNS 5810 Introduction to Play Therapy (3 credit hours): This course is an introduction to the basic concepts of child-centered play therapy.  Students will learn the history of play therapy and professional issues related to the profession, the attitudes and skills necessary to establish and maintain facilitative relationships with children that encourage their self-expression and facilitate change, how to work with parents, and the basic concepts of child development.  Summer and Fall semester.


CNS 5820 Play Therapy Theories and Techniques (3 credit hours): An advanced exploration of fundamental issues involved in play therapy, this course will focus on an in-depth study of various theoretical approaches, modalities, techniques, and applications of play therapy.  Historical and theoretical foundations of play therapy are presented as are current issues in providing appropriate counseling services to children. Spring semester.


CNS 5830 Play Therapy for Specific Challenges (3 credit hours): An advanced exploration of fundamental issues involved in play therapy, students will learn theoretical and applied play therapy skills for the assessment and treatment of clients with mental health issues associated with trauma and complex trauma, medical illness and co-morbid diagnoses, developmental considerations (such as Autism Spectrum), psychosis, and other types of psychopathology. Summer term. PREREQ: CNS 5810 or CNS 5820


CNS 5840 Filial and Family Play Therapy (3 credit hours): An advanced exploration of fundamental issues involved in play therapy, this course focuses on concepts and skills for training parents/caretakers/teachers to be therapeutic agents in their children’s lives through the utilization of child centered play therapy skills in regularly scheduled structured play sessions with children. Students will also learn the systemic applications of play therapy for families and the diverse applications within the home, office, school, foster home or hospital. Fall semester. PREREQ: CNS 5810


To apply for the Play Therapy Graduate Certificate, please complete an online application, pay the $55 graduate school application fee, and submit official transcripts from all colleges/universities at  .  Applicants may apply to begin the program in the summer and fall terms. Once you have submitted your application and fee, please contact Dr. Jonathan Ricks at

Please note that Play Therapy Certificate students not enrolled currently in a master’s degree program cannot receive federal financial aid but may establish a monthly payment plan through Student Accounts if desired.