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About the Play Therapy Program

Summer  and fall 2021 courses: The safety and health of our students, instructors, and staff is of the utmost importance to the Healthcare department at UCSD Extension. Due to the concerns and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, all Play Therapy classes will be offered remotely via Zoom on the regularly scheduled day and time, at least through fall quarter, 2021.

In play therapy, toys are the child’s words, and play is the child’s language. Therapists strategically use play to help children express what is troubling them when they do not have the verbal language to express their thoughts and feelings.
 
Formally, the Association for Play Therapy (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."
 
Play therapy is a structured, theoretically based approach to expressive therapy that builds on the normal communicative and learning processes of children and has been shown to help them
  • Become more responsible for behaviors and develop more successful strategies.
  • Develop new and creative solutions to problems.
  • Develop respect and acceptance of self and others.
  • Learn to experience and express emotion.
  • Learn new social skills and relational skills with family.
Play therapy can also be used effectively with some teenagers and adults to optimize learning, enhance relationships, improve health, and enhance social well-being.  

Certificate Benefits
Mental health professionals can add a set of skills to their repertoire that improves care for children and adults without the ability to verbally express their thoughts and feelings.
 
UC San Diego Extension meets the “Play Therapy Training” requirement of the Association for Play Therapy’s Registered Play Therapist (RPT) and Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor (RPT-S) credentials. See “Industry Certification” below for more detail. APT Approved Provider: 98-046


Target Audience 
Licensed therapists, therapist interns, and allied health professionals who work with children, adolescents, and their families.

Military spouses are eligible to use My CAA $4000 scholarship. Apply at MyCAA.
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The certificate program satisfies the instructional requirement of the Association for Play Therapy (APT) to become a Registered Play Therapist (RPT), as well as a Registered Play Therapist Supervisor (RPT-S). UC San Diego Extension is approved by the APT to offer continuing education specific to play therapy (APT Approved Provider 98-046). Details about requirements and applications for the designations may be obtained from the Association for Play Therapy www.a4pt.org.
Course sections scheduled will be offered remotely via Zoom on the regularly scheduled day and time. Some courses require pre- or post-work. All courses require post-tests.

Early enrollment advised - class size limited by APT standards.



PSY-40382      Play Therapy to Help Children Cope with Grief and Loss  (October 23, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; pre-work will be required. The assignment will be emailed to students one week prior to start of the course)  (section 159616) OPEN -- Early enrollment advised

PSY-40219      Therapeutic Powers of Play  (November 6, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.; pre-work will be required. The assignment will be emailed to students one week prior to start of the course)  (section 158486) OPEN -- Early enrollment advised

PSY-40219      Therapeutic Powers of Play  (November 13, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.; pre-work will be required. The assignment will be emailed to students one week prior to start of the course)  (section 158487) OPEN -- Early enrollment advised


PSY-40234      Play Therapy, Art Therapy, and Assessment of Abused Children and Adolescents (This is a 2-day class! (November 20 & December 4, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.; pre-work will be required. The assignment will be emailed to students one week prior to start of the course)  (section 158485) OPEN -- Early enrollment advised

Winter 2022 courses will be open for enrollment - and posted here for your convenience - on October 22, 2021.
Format: In-Person

Estimated Cost: $3,850

Duration: 24 months

Contact
Department
Healthcare & Behavioral Sciences
Phone
858-534-9262
Email
unexhealthcare@ucsd.edu

Courses

Delivery Method
Show Legend
  • Live Online
  • In-Person
  • Online
  • Hybrid
  • Number of courses: 22
  • Total units: 11
All courses are elective (none required). To earn the certificate, choose at least 11 units from one or more of the series below.
**Please note that each course is offered al least once every other year. For example, a course offered in July and August of 2021, may not be available again until July and August of 2023. There will be additional courses offered in between.**

Students must choose 11 units from any of the courses below

Toys and Their UsesPSY-40156

Units: 0.50

TBD

This course will help the play therapist match play materials with treatment objectives. Imaginative play and art materials meet the child s need for symbolic expression of his/her representational wo...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Summer

Play Diagnosis and Assessment: Play Assessment of Ego Functions and Object RelationsPSY-40218

Units: 0.50

TBD

Observation of a young child's play is a powerful projective tool for assessing a child's psychological functioning and progress in therapy. This course provides a model for play assessment of a child...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Summer

Legal and Ethical Issues in Child Treatment with Emphasis on Play Therapy and AssessmentPSY-40158

Units: 0.50

TBD

This class addresses how legal and ethical issues relate to child therapy, to the use of play in therapy and assessment, and to conflicts that exist between psychotherapy and legal processes. Topics i...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Winter

History of Play TherapyPSY-40391

Units: 0.50

$175

The first part of the course focuses on the evolution of the field of play therapy, from its origins in the early works of main figures in the psychoanalytic movement, including Hermine Hug-Hellmuth, ...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Winter

The Therapeutic Powers of PlayPSY-40219

Units: 0.50

$175

This course explores the many therapeutic elements of play, across the developmental stages from early toddlerhood through latency. Definitions of pathology--that is, what it is that play must address...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Fall

Child-Centered Play TherapyPSY-40235

Units: 0.50

$175

Child-Centered Play Therapy (CCPT) is a systematic treatment approach to child-generated play. This course is a combination of didactic presentations and experiential activities that detail the four m...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Winter

Child-Parent Relationship Therapy-CPRT (Filial Therapy)PSY-40337

Units: 0.50

$175

Child and Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT) is a model of filial therapy founded upon the child-centered play therapy philosophy. It is an evidence-based parent-training intervention for treating chi...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Winter

Introduction to Parent-Child Interaction TherapyPSY-40328

Units: 0.50

TBD

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is an intensive treatment program that relies heavily on play to improve the quality of the parent-child relationship and teaches parents the necessary skills f...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Winter, Summer

Structured Play Therapy: Cognitive-Behavioral Play Therapy, Pre-Set Play, Introduction of ResolutionsPSY-40238

Units: 0.50

TBD

A wide-range of structured play therapy techniques and their theoretical underpinnings are presented, including pre-set and prearranged play, therapist-staged dramas, facilitation of adaptive resoluti...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Summer

Gestalt Play TherapyPSY-40239

Units: 0.50

TBD

Building upon the theoretical foundations of Gestalt therapy, this course emphasizes the methods of Gestalt play therapy, role-play, and psychodrama by using puppet play, dramatic enactment, art, fl...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Fall

Sandplay: A Therapeutic ProcessPSY-40240

Units: 0.50

TBD

Sandplay is a nonverbal therapeutic process developed by Dora Kalff, a psychologist and close collaborator of C.G. Jung. Its powerful healing attributes help clients bring into consciousness that whic...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Summer

Experiential Play TherapyPSY-40303

Units: 0.50

TBD

This course introduces experiential play therapy, a developmentally based theoretical model that extends the basic principles of child-centered play therapy and relationship play therapy, reaching chi...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Fall

Psychoanalytic Play TherapyPSY-40237

Units: 0.50

TBD

This course provides an introduction to psychoanalytic play therapy, an ambitious treatment that helps alleviate troubling childhood behaviors and symptoms, and strives to address their underlying cau...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Fall

Integrative Play therapyPSY-40401

Units: 0.50

$175

Integrative Play Therapy is a systematic integration of various play therapy theories and techniques used in assessment, case conceptualization, and treatment of children and adolescents. This approa...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Summer

Introduction to TheraplayPSY-40399

Units: 0.50

TBD

This course will introduce students to Theraplay, a short-term, therapist-guided dyadic psychotherapy that focuses on improving the child s behavioral and emotional challenges through the parent-child...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Winter

Supervision and Instruction of Play TherapyPSY-40388

Units: 0.50

TBD

This course imparts methods of supervision and instruction that develop in others the capacity to think as play therapists. Modified Socratic methods, exercises, and “compassionate communication” are ...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Fall

Group Play Therapy to Facilitate Play & Social Skills and Self-RegulationPSY-40404

Units: 0.50

$175

Play Therapy Groups are a fun and impactful way of addressing social skill deficits in children. Groups help children develop interactive play, other social skills, and improve social confidence and s...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Spring

Play Therapy with Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior DisordersPSY-40167

Units: 0.50

TBD

This course focuses on using play therapy with children who are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Disruptive Behavior Disorders such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Impu...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Winter

Play Therapy Across Cultural and Ethnic GroupsPSY-40171

Units: 0.50

TBD

This course challenges students to critically examine applications and barriers of predominant play therapy training models to effective treatment with youths of diverse cultural backgrounds. A broade...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Winter

Families Fighting and Changing: Play Therapy with Children of Divorce and RemarriagePSY-40226

Units: 0.50

$175

A review of recent literature suggests that family violence and divorce have become widespread and increasingly evident in societal attitudes and value systems. Children experiencing divorce and adjus...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Summer

Play Therapy, Art Therapy, and Assessment of Abused Children and AdolescentsPSY-40234

Units: 1.00

$350

This is a course in the treatment of abuse, emphasizing child physical and sexual abuse, and including witnessing domestic violence and traumatic illness or injury to self and loved ones. A treatment ...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Fall, Summer

Play Therapy for Attachment DisordersPSY-40322

Units: 0.50

$175

In recent years, numerous advancements have been made in the treatment of children with attachment disorders. The limitations of the DSM-IV TR in the diagnosis of attachment disorders are well known i...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Spring

Play Therapy to Help Children Cope with Grief and LossPSY-40382

Units: 0.50

$175

Children face many losses as they grow up, and cope with the resulting grief without the life experience, support systems, or strategies of adults. Many children experience the illness or death of a l...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Fall

Play Therapy for Children Affected by Illness and InjuryPSY-40386

Units: 0.50

TBD

Illness, Injury, and medical procedures can be experienced as traumatic events by both children and adults. This course explores the impact of these types of events on children. Participants will gain...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Spring

Play Therapy and Art Therapy with AdolescentsPSY-40397

Units: 0.50

$175

Working with adolescents in therapy presents unique challenges and rewards. Creative and playful approaches provide an avenue for engaging with teens in a meaningful way. This workshop will explore th...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Summer

Play Therapy in SchoolsPSY-40398

Units: 0.50

$175

This course focuses on providing play therapy services at school sites and examines the benefits as well as the many challenges in working in school settings. It will include: learning how to form col...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Spring

Victims of Ritual Abuse and Child Trafficking: Recognition, Play Therapy, and Symbolic CommunicationFPM-40647

Units: 0.50

TBD

This course describes ritual abuse and child trafficking and how dissociation-savvy abusers psychologically manipulate victims and their dissociated self-states. Participants will learn: 1) indicators...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Summer

Play Therapy for Anxiety Disorders and Affect RegulationFPM-40649

Units: 0.50

TBD

There is persuasive evidence from a range of studies that anxiety disorders (separation anxiety disorder, specific phobias, social phobia, agoraphobia, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Winter

Evidence-based Play Therapy Interventions in Treating Children with Autism SpectrumFPM-40650

Units: 0.50

TBD

This course will teach play therapists about the many faces of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and neurodiversity which may be encountered in clinical practice. With the rate of ASD growing yearly, pla...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Spring

Play Therapy and Art Therapy Supervision to Transform Compassion Fatigue and Vicarious TraumaPSY-40402

Units: 0.50

$175

Even the most seasoned therapists experience compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, and burn-out in the provision of psychotherapy, particularly with children impacted by complex trauma, multiple forms...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Winter

Play Therapy with Bullied and Socially Anxious ChildrenPSY-40403

Units: 0.50

TBD

This course focuses on using play therapy with children with relational-based problems, specifically social anxiety and being bullied. Emphasis will be placed on recognizing symptoms of social anxiety...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Fall

Involving Caregivers and Families in the Play Therapy ProcessPSY-40405

Units: 0.50

$175

This course imparts to play therapists approaches to working with parents and caregivers to best support treatment of children engaged in play therapy from the very first phone contact through the con...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Spring

Play Therapy with Highly Sensitive ChildrenPSY-40406

Units: 0.50

$175

This course prepares psychotherapists to provide play therapy to highly sensitive children. Children with the Highly Sensitive Child Trait (HSC), also known as Sensory-Processing Sensitivity (SPS)...

Upcoming Start Dates:
Typically Offered:

Summer

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Conditions for Admission

Please see the application for specific admission requirements for this program. Although a college degree or professional experience in the field are not required, applicants with such experience may receive preference for admission when program capacity is limited.

Certificate Guidelines

To earn the certificate, you must complete 11 quarter units (minimum of 150 hours of coursework). More than 13 units and 171 instructional hours are offered during a complete program cycle from which you select courses that fit your schedule. All coursework meets the Association for Play Therapy's instructional-hours requirement toward becoming a Registered Play Therapist (RPT) or Registered Play Therapist Supervisor (RPT-S).

**Please note that each course is offered at least once every other year. For example, a course offered in July and August of 2021, may not be available again until July and August of 2023. There will be additional courses offered in between.**

Next Steps Experience

Connect your classroom education with real-world experiences through a Next Step Experience course. These specially designed classes allow students to gain hands-on experience by working closely with instructors and/or peers on real-world projects.

In the Supervision and Instruction of Play Therapy course, students learn how to make the transition from trainee to instructor. A leading expert guides participants, by means of a modified Socratic method, through exercises and compassionate communication techniques designed to train students how to help others develop the capacity to think as a play therapist. Individuals walk away with the knowledge of how to help supervisees and students develop treatment goals, devise interventions to achieve these goals, and incorporate ongoing assessment techniques into these elements.

Industry Requirements

RPT and RPT-S designations: The program satisfies the Association for Play Therapy's 150 instructional-hours requirement to become a Registered Play Therapist (RPT) or Registered Play Therapist Supervisor (RPT-S). Courses are also individually approved for hours toward the 150-hour requirement.

UC San Diego Extension maintains responsibility for the certificate program. See APT's website: http://www.a4pt.org for additional requirements pertaining to registration.

Special Notes

While the Department of Psychiatry is aware of the research on the efficacy of play therapy, it cannot specifically endorse each play therapy intervention included in each class in the play therapy certificate program.

Advisory Board

Shirla de Magalhaes, LMFT, RPT-S, RSP

Sol Play Child Therapy Inc.

Laura Fish, MS, LMFT

Laura Fish Therapy MFT Inc.

Ellen Lacter, PhD, RPT-S

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Cristy Pareti, PsyD, LMFT

Cristy Pareti, PsyD LMFT

Martin Stein, MD

Professor of Clinical Pediatrics Emeritus

UC San Diego

Lyla Tyler, LMFT, RPT-S

Lyla Tyler, LMFT, PC

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This certificate requires an application before taking any courses. There will be a $0 fee to apply to this program. Students will also be required to pay a $95 certificate fee upon enrollment into the program after acceptance. View the complete Certificate Registration and Candidacy Guidelines.