A Guide to Studying Play Therapy

Your top questions answered

Here are most commonly asked questions about the Play Therapy course at University of South Wales. If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us.

Tell us about the Play Therapy course
The MSc Play Therapy is a three year therapeutic training programme that is accredited by the British Association of Play Therapists (BAPT). On successful completion of this course, graduates are entitled to join BAPT as full members and are qualified to work as Play Therapists.

This course has strict entry requirements set by BAPT, including having a relevant degree (2:1 or above) and evidence of relevant experience of working with children. This course cannot accept recent graduates as BAPT specify that the majority of experience of working with children must be postgraduate experience.

This course requires students to engage in a minimum of 100 hours of clinical practice over a minimum of two placements, 50 hours of clinical supervision and 60 hours of personal therapy. There is a research project requirement in the third year.

What experience do I need to apply for the MSc Play Therapy course?
BAPT stipulate that all students need to demonstrate that they have relevant prior experience of working with children. Students with a relevant degree (including Psychology, Education, Early Years, Childhood Studies etc.) must demonstrate five years' worth of relevant experience, the majority of which is postgraduate experience. 

Students with a professional vocational qualification (including degrees in Paediatric Nursing, Teaching with QTS, Social Worker, Educational Psychologist etc.) are required to demonstrate two years' postgraduate experience. 

Experience should include work with different client groups (e.g. children with behavioural difficulties, social or emotional difficulties, children with Special Educational Needs, Looked After Children, work with families etc.). Voluntary work and part-time work is considered but must equate to full time equivalent experience.  

What career opportunities are there for Play Therapists after graduation?
Previous students have gained employment in education and charity settings as well as independent practice. 

What qualifications do I need to apply?
A 2:1 Honours degree in a relevant professional qualification, including, for example, Teaching, Social Work, Occupational Therapy or Paediatric Nursing plus a minimum of two years’ post-graduation work experience. A 2:1 degree in a relevant degree including, but not limited to, Psychology, Childhood Studies, Early Years Development, or Social Science plus at least 5 years’ experience working face to face with children, young people and their families, the majority of which should be taken after graduation. 

Can I study Play Therapy full time or part time?
The MSc Play Therapy is only offered part-time over three years. (Days and times to be confirmed, subject to revalidation). Although students only attend campus one day a week this is a clinical and professional training that requires students to undertake a range of activities during the week including clinical placement, clinical supervision, personal therapy, child observations and independent study.

Is the Play Therapy course accredited?
Yes, this course is accredited by the British Association of Play Therapists (BAPT). On successful completion of our Masters programme students are eligible to apply to BAPT for full membership.

What’s the deadline to apply for this course?
There is no official deadline to apply for UK students. We will continue to receive and consider applications while places remain available. Should the course become fully subscribed, we will update the website confirming closure. If you are an international student you must apply by the 1st August before the September in which you wish to study.

How many places are available?
There is no limit on student places but class sizes tend to be around 25-28 students.

When are the interviews?
We hold interview and selection days from the spring through to the end of the summer. Successful applicants will be notified of the date when invitations are sent.

What does the interview entail?
It's an individual interview with a ten-minute presentation. Applicants will have the opportunity to ask questions on the day. 

What is the structure of the Play Therapy course?
The course comprises theory and practice taught through lectures and workshops. There are clinical placements each year. Students are assessed through both formative and summative assessments; group work; individual performance; placement practice; and experiential work at University etc.

What will my timetable be like?* 

Year One

Monday lectures at University 9am-4.30pm (with a lunch break from 1.30-2.30pm)

Students study 60 credits in Year One 

9am-11am Child Development and Play (20 credits)

11.30am-1.30pm Play Therapy Theory and Skills (20 credits)

2.30pm- 4.30pm Preparing for Evidence Based Clinical Practice (20 Credits)

Year Two

Thursday lectures at University 9am-4.30pm (with a lunch break from 1.30-2.30pm)

Students study 60 credits in Year Two:

9am -11am Evidence Based Play Therapy Practice (40 credits) – Clinical practice/Theory

11.30am -1.30pm Evidence Based Play Therapy Practice – Clinical Practice/Skills

2.30pm - 4.30pm Working with Children and their Families (20 credits).

Year Three

Friday lectures at University 9am-4.30pm (with a lunch break from 1.30-2.30pm)

Students study 60 credits in Year Three:

Advanced Play Therapy Theory and Skills (40 credits)

Evaluating Advanced Play Therapy Practice (20 credits)

* please note, timetables may change for the next academic year as we are subject to revalidation.

Practical elements
Students on this course are required to complete 100 clinical hours of play therapy. The University has existing links with organisations that offer placements or, alternatively, placements can be set up near students’ home town. Students usually complete two placements: 30 hours in Year one from January to the summer term and 70 hours in Year Two from September to August.

Students are also required to complete 30 hours of child observations. All students will need to find and observe a child under three years and his/her primary caregiver for weekly observations throughout Year One. It is advisable to plan/negotiate access prior to the start of the course.

Do I need to find my own placements?
The onus is on students to secure their own placements but academic tutors will assist with this. All placements have to be approved by course tutors who will visit the placement and check that the placement can support the student's learning needs. It is possible to undertake one of the two placements in a student's work setting but this first needs to be discussed with a course tutor who will need to check that there will be no conflict of interestPlacements are in a variety of settings including schools, charity organisations, NHS, therapeutic practices etc. We encourage students to secure placements in their geographic area.

When do placements start?

  • Placement One (30 hours) runs from January to the end of May in Year One
  • Placement Two (46 hours) runs for the whole academic year, i.e. from October to the end of May in Year Two
  • Placement Three (24 hrs) runs from October to the end of May in Year Three

How many times a week do I have to have clinical supervision?
Students must have one hour of clinical supervision for every two hours of clinical practice. BAPT specify a 2:1 practice: supervision ratio must be followed. Students work with their own clinical supervisor, who must be an experienced BAPT play therapist. In Year One, students will have fifteen hours of clinical supervision for 30 hours of clinical practice.

In Year Two students will complete 23 hours of clinical supervision for 46 hours of clinical practice, and in Year Three, 12 hours of clinical supervision for 24 hours of clinical practice. Students have to pay the cost of clinical supervision in addition to course fees. Typical clinical supervision costs £35-45 per hour. Some clinical supervisors may offer a student discount.

How many times a week should I be in my own personal therapy?
Students are required to undertake 60 hours of personal therapy spread evenly during their training: 20 hours in Year One, 20 hours in Year Two and 20 hours in Year Three. Students must cover the cost of personal therapy themselves in addition to course fees. Fees typically vary from £35-£45 per hour. The therapist must be either BACP or UKCP registered.

Please note: Therapy hours completed prior to starting training cannot be included. The course team reserve the right to request that you change your therapist for one in keeping with the aims and objectives of learning and professional qualification.

Are there any other requirements?
Students need to complete 30 hours of child observations in Year One. The observations need to be undertaken regularly over time in order to observe development in a child under three years, and additionally an older child (optional contexts). Students need to find families and settings willing to give consent for a student to observe a child and his/her primary caregiver, and older children in different contexts.

Is there anything I need to read before the Play Therapy course starts?
Applicants may benefit from reading texts by Virginia Axline, Garry Landreth and Janet West. Awareness of Attachment and Regulation Theories and Humanistic Philosophy would also be helpful.

What to do now: Come to our next Open Evening to find out more