Play Therapy

Study Play Therapy Online. Learn the theory and applications for all ages, as a therapy for anxiety, depression, physical rehabilitation, behavioural, developmental, social disorders, and more.

Course CodeBRE214
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Learn to Apply Play Therapy for emotional or physical healing

The Play Therapy course is ideal for children or adults.

When an injury damages muscles, or inhibits the use of muscles for a period; play may be a pathway to reeducate those muscles to again move as they once did.

When a person suffers stress, and anxiety or depression takes over, play can sometimes be a pathway to regain motivation and emotional stability. Like other types of therapy, play therapy helps to reduce or eliminate negative or maladaptive behaviours whilst encouraging the use of positive or adaptive ones.

When you learn about play therapy with ACS Distance Education, you will understand how to lead play therapy and is a great addition for your professional development.


Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. The Foundation for Using Play Therapy
  2. Applications of Play and Play Therapy
  3. Play Therapy for Anxiety and Depressive Disorders
  4. Play Therapy for Behavioural Disorders
  5. Play Therapy for Developmental Disorders
  6. Play Therapy for Social & Family Problems
  7. Play Therapy and Adult Populations
  8. Related Specialised Creative Therapies
  9. Play and Rehabilitation

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Explain the purpose for using play therapy, potential of what it might achieve, and determine situations where it is appropriate to use it as a therapeutic technique.
  • Explain the therapeutic play continuum, applications of play and play therapy, play therapy tools, advantages and issues arising in therapy.
  • Explain how play therapy can be used to help children with emotional disturbances such as depression and anxiety disorders.
  • Explain how play therapy can be used to help children with behavioural disorders such as conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and problems with anger and impulse control.
  • Explain how play therapy can be used to treat developmental disorders such as autism, intellectual disability and learning disorders.
  • Determine appropriate uses of play therapy for children suffering from social and family related problems such as grief and loss, crises such as divorce, and trauma-related issues.
  • Determine uses of play therapy to assist adult populations with specific emotional and psychological problems which can benefit from play.
  • Explain a range of different but closely related therapies including music, art, and drama therapy, and techniques used in these therapies which are incorporated into play therapy.
  • Explain how play can be used in occupational therapy and other contexts to help people manage or rehabilitate from physical and mental disabilities, and the role of science and technology.


Like other types of therapy, play therapy helps to reduce or eliminate negative or maladaptive behaviours whilst encouraging the use of positive or adaptive ones. Some of the benefits attributed to play therapy include:

  • Improved mood and positive feelings
  • Better coping skills
  • Enhanced problem solving
  • Less internal conflict and stress
  • Greater self-awareness
  • Increased impulse control
  • Appropriate emotional expression
  • Improved verbal skills
  • Better communication
  • Improved social skills
  • Increased confidence and self-esteem
  • Greater trust of others
  • Increased maturity



  • Health Professionals
  • Playleaders
  • Therapists
  • Counsellors
  • Teachers
  • Parents
  • Toy and Game Designers, Manufacturers or Retailers



Encouraging play in children seems obvious to most people; but often the relevance of play for adults is easily overlooked.
Play is something which all healthy children partake in to some degree or other. However, older teenagers and adults especially have often lost their ability for play other than perhaps for games with rules. Play therapy for adults can be used help them relearn the value of play.

Playful exploration has been shown to enhance both cognitive and physical behaviours. There is research from the fields of neurophysiology and molecular biology to support a role for play therapy as a therapeutic tool for adults. Although as with children, play is not going to suit all adults and may only be appropriate for limited situations and circumstances more research has been undertaken in recent years into its application as a therapeutic tool for adults. It may be that play therapy has been overlooked previously where it could potentially have been beneficial to some individuals so it shouldn’t automatically be ruled out as developmentally inappropriate without proper assessment and consideration.

How Can Play Therapy Help?

Play therapy for adults assumes that adults still retain child-like representations of the world and can make use of non-verbal expression. Through the use of play, adults of all ages can get in touch with their inner selves and work through problems such as traumas from childhood.

Some of the reported benefits of play therapy with adult populations include enhanced relationships, optimised learning, and better overall improve health and wellbeing. Play therapy with adults may be at its most efficacious when used in conjunction with other types of treatment.

Donaldson (1993) advocated the use of play therapy with adults in situations where traditional talking therapies may be less effective. In particular, it was proposed that play therapy may be of value to adults with arrested emotional development, those with developmental difficulties which continued into adulthood, and where co-morbid mental health problems existed in these groups.

Areas where play therapy has been used with adult populations include:

  • Dementia 
  • Grief and loss
  • Arrested emotional development
  • Problems associated with developmental disorders 
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder 
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder


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John Mason

Writer, Manager, Teacher and Businessman with over 40 years interenational experience covering Education, Publishing, Leisure Management, Education, and Horticulture. He has extensive experience both as a public servant, and as a small business owner. J
Lyn Quirk

M.Prof.Ed.; Adv.Dip.Compl.Med (Naturopathy); Adv.Dip.Sports Therapy Over 30 years as Health Club Manager, Fitness Professional, Teacher, Coach and Business manager in health, fitness and leisure industries. As business owner and former department head fo
Jacinda Cole

Psychologist, Educator, Author, Psychotherapist. B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA Jacinda has over 25 years of experience in psychology, in both Australia and England. She holds a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and a Masters in Psycholo
Tracey Jones

B.Sc. (Psych), M.Soc.Sc., Dip.Social Work, P.G.Dip Learning Disability, Cert Editing, Cert Creative Writing, PGCE. Member British Psychological Society, Member Assoc. for Coaching, Member British Learning Assoc. 25 years industry experience in writing,
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