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Why Play Therapy?
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APT defines play therapy as "the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development."

More simply put, child play therapy is a way of being with the child that honors their unique developmental level and looks for ways of helping in the “language” of the child – play.  Licensed mental health professionals therapeutically use play to help their clients, most often children ages three to 12 years, to better express themselves and resolve their problems.

Play Therapy works best when a safe relationship is created between the therapist and client, one in which the latter may freely and naturally express both what pleases and bothers them.

Mental health agencies, schools, hospitals, and private practitioners have utilized Play Therapy as a primary intervention or as supportive therapy for:

  • Behavioral problems, such as anger management, grief and loss, divorce and abandonment, and crisis and trauma.
  • Behavioral disorders, such as anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), autism or pervasive developmental, academic and social developmental, physical and learning disabilities, and conduct disorders.

Research suggests Play Therapy is an effective mental health approach, regardless of age, gender, or the nature of the problem, and works best when a parent, family member, or caretaker is actively involved in the treatment process.  For more information on play therapy including research citations we invite you to view


Why Play Therapists?

Play Therapists are licensed mental health professionals or school counselors/psychologists who have earned a Master's or Doctorate degree in a mental health field or in school counseling/psychology and obtained considerable general clinical experience and supervision.  Examples include professional counselors, psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, school counselors and school psychologists, psychiatric nurses, etc.

Registered Play Therapists (RPT), Registered Play Therapist-Supervisors (RPT-S), and School Based-Registered Play Therapist (SB-RPT) are licensed professionals who have additionally obtained specific play therapy education, training, and supervised experience.  These professionals have been vetted by APT to have met a set standard for education and training in the field of play therapy.

Clarifying "Play Therapy"

Inaccurate use of the term “Play Therapy” is, in most cases, due to a limited understanding of the profession itself. However, this can also lead to teachable moments and provide a chance to spread accurate information, educate the public, and further promote the advancement of play and play therapy. Ultimately, therapists who attempt to use play therapy without proper training and education are doing their clients, the profession, and themselves a disservice.

Play Therapy requires extensive specialized education, training, and experience. The belief that the modality of play therapy requires little training, because it is “simply playing”, often leads to general misconceptions and ineffective treatment. For this reason, APT urges its members to reach out to any party found to be misusing or misrepresenting their products or services as “play therapy.” APT provides licensed mental health professionals who specialize in play therapy an opportunity to verify their training and expertise within the field through the Registered Play Therapist (RPT), Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor (RPT-S), and School Based-Registered Play Therapist (SB-RPT) credentials.


Mental Health Links

Links to other private and public play therapy organizations.

    © 2016 Association for Play Therapy, Inc.