Play therapist

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Play therapists help children to make sense of difficult life experiences, or complex psychological issues through play.

Salary range: £25,000 to £41,000

How to become a play therapist

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course

University

You’ll need to complete a postgraduate qualification approved by the British Association of Play Therapists or Play Therapy UK.

You’ll also need 2 years’ paid or volunteering experience of working with children and families in a development role.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More information

More information

Registration

Career tips

It’ll help when looking for work to make as many contacts as you can while you’re training. Job vacancies are not always advertised.

Further information

You can get more advice about careers in play therapy from the British Association of Play Therapists and Play Therapy UK.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • sensitivity and understanding
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to understand people’s reactions
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • assessing the child’s needs
  • running therapy sessions at a regular time and place
  • making use of creative arts, like drawing, clay, sand, movement, music and therapeutic storytelling
  • communicating with children and making a connection between the signs, symbols and actions the child creates through play
  • promoting positive change in the child by helping them to help themselves

Working environment

You could work at a client’s home, at a children’s care home, at a health centre or at a school.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

Career path and progression

With experience and further training, you could supervise less experienced therapists. You might also provide a consultation service to professionals in the community.

You could move into training, lecturing or clinical supervision.

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