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A Step-By-Step Guide to Obtaining Your Play Therapy Certification

4 minute read


Are you passionate about making a positive impact on the lives of children? If so, play therapy might be the perfect path for you. Fortunately, in today’s digital age, embarking on this fulfilling journey has never been easier. With just a few clicks, you can begin exploring the realm of play therapy certification and uncover a wealth of information to guide you along the way. This step-by-step guide aims to provide you with the essential knowledge and resources needed to obtain your play therapy certification. We’ll also outline the numerous benefits and opportunities that await you on this remarkable path. Start an online search today to learn more about play therapy certification.

Understanding Play Therapy

Play therapy is a dynamic and effective approach that utilizes the natural language of children: play. It harnesses the innate capacity of children to express themselves, process emotions, and work through challenges in a safe and supportive environment. Moreover, play therapy allows children to communicate and explore their thoughts, feelings, and experiences through play activities, toys, and creative expression. By engaging in play, children can gain a deeper understanding of their emotions, develop problem-solving skills, enhance self-regulation, and build healthy relationships.

Furthermore, play therapy is utilized to address a wide range of issues, including trauma, anxiety, behavioral problems, grief, and social difficulties. By tapping into the healing power of play, play therapists can facilitate positive change, empower children, and promote their emotional well-being.

The Importance of Play Therapy Certification

Obtaining your certification can offer numerous advantages and open up exciting career opportunities. Firstly, certification provides a solid foundation of knowledge and skills specific to play therapy techniques and approaches. Through specialized training, you’ll gain a deep understanding of child development, therapeutic interventions, and the unique nuances of working with children through play. This expertise will not only enhance your effectiveness as a play therapist but also instill confidence in clients and employers, demonstrating your commitment to professional excellence.

Additionally, play therapy certification increases your marketability and credibility within the field. With the growing recognition of the importance of mental health for children, there is a rising demand for qualified play therapists. Having the official certification showcases your competence and dedication, giving you a competitive edge in the job market. You can explore a range of career paths, including private practice, schools, clinics, hospitals, and community organizations. Whether you aspire to work independently or as part of a larger therapeutic team, play therapy certification equips you with the skills and credentials needed to make a meaningful difference in the lives of children and their families.

Step 1: Prerequisites and Educational Requirements

To embark on the journey of becoming a Registered Play Therapist, there are essential criteria that must be met, to ensure a solid foundation for this specialized field. The first requirement is the completion of a master’s degree from an accredited institution in counseling, psychology, psychiatry, marriage and family therapy, or social work. This educational background equips aspiring play therapists with the necessary theoretical knowledge and understanding of mental health principles.

The Association for Play Therapy (APT) has also outlined five major areas of study that are crucial for your credentialing application. These areas include child development, theories of personality, principles of psychotherapy, child and adolescent psychopathology, as well as legal, ethical, and professional issues.

In addition to the specified coursework, it is imperative to hold a current and active state license that allows you to provide clinical mental health services. This license should be in counseling, marriage and family therapy, psychiatry, psychology, or social work. Possessing a valid license ensures that you meet the regulatory requirements to offer therapeutic services and underscores your commitment to maintaining professional standards while practicing as a play therapist.

Step 2: Choosing the Right Play Therapy Training Program

Selecting the right play therapy training program is a critical step toward obtaining your certification. It’s essential to choose a program that aligns with your career goals, offers comprehensive coursework, and provides adequate experiential learning opportunities. The Association for Play Therapy (APT) offers three distinct play therapy credentials that reflect varying levels of expertise and specialization. These credentials are:

  1. Registered Play Therapist™ (RPT): This credential signifies that an individual has met the educational and experiential requirements to practice play therapy independently, utilizing play-based interventions to address emotional and behavioral challenges in children.
  2. Registered Play Therapist—Supervisor™ (RPT-S): This advanced designation is for experienced play therapists who have demonstrated proficiency in providing supervision, training, and mentorship to aspiring play therapists, playing a crucial role in shaping the next generation of play therapy professionals.
  3. School-Based Registered Play Therapist™ (SB-RPT): Designed for professionals working in school settings, such as school counselors, psychologists, or social workers, this credential recognizes expertise in utilizing play therapy techniques within the educational context, supporting children’s emotional well-being and addressing challenges specific to the school environment.

Job Opportunities

After obtaining play therapy certification, a wide range of job opportunities becomes available in various settings. Here are some potential career paths for play therapists:


Not only can a career in play therapy be fulfilling but it offers competitive salaries too. According to ZipRecruiter, the majority of play therapists’ salaries in the United States currently range between $61,000 to $179,000. However, the top earners can make as much as $226,500 annually.

It’s important to note that play therapy salaries can vary based on geographic location, with factors such as cost of living and demand for services playing a role. Additionally, the level of expertise, specialization, and additional certifications can contribute to higher earning potential within the field.

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