Course Overview

*Due to the experiential nature of the Play Therapy course, delivery will remain as a classroom-based course. Please find more details under Requirements and Assessment below.

If you already have a teaching or psychology qualification, or if you work with children as a counselor, psychotherapist, creative art therapist, nurse or social worker you may wish to add to your therapeutic play skills. 

The Postgraduate Diploma/Certificate in Practice Based Play Therapy is a part-time, blended learning course which builds on your practical experience, enhances your skills through exposure to theory, policy, research and experiential learning opportunities. It has been developed to meet the identified needs of practitioners in the play therapy sector who wish to pursue accredited programmes of study in a flexible manner, complimenting and supporting their continued employment. 

The emphasis in the course is about you - your experiential and your practical training. It’s what you will be able to achieve in working with children through play that’s important – not just your theoretical knowledge.

Applications and Selections

Early application is advisable. Applications for the programme are made directly to the programme partners – APAC.

Maria Bayne, the Chief Executive of APAC, can be contacted for detailed information and to discuss your suitability for the course. A separate application pack will be issued from APAC following your initial enquiry.

Programme Enquiries
Maria Bayne
The Academy of Play and Child Psychotherapy or

Other general enquiries
Programme Administrator
Phone: 091 495442

Who Teaches this Course

Requirements and Assessment

Module assessment will differ from module to module depending on the learning outcomes. All students must pass a practice placement, have a satisfactory report from their clinical/practice supervisor and complete the stipulated number of practice hours (100 hours per award).

Postgraduate students are expected to demonstrate explicitly their knowledge, skills and competencies to practice as a Play Therapist in three distinct ways:

  • via written work
  • via clinical supervision
  • via clinical practice



Key Facts

Entry Requirements

Candidates must have at least two years’ experience working with children in the relevant sectors and should normally possess a first or second class honours degree in either psychology, education, childhood studies or social work, or have a recognised equivalent professional qualification in a health, social services or education-related field.

In exceptional circumstances candidates without a degree or a recognised equivalent qualification, but with significant experience of working with children, along with other relevant qualifications (i.e. minimum level 7 award), may apply. In such cases a portfolio of evidence demonstrating their knowledge and experience of the sector and an ability to study at this level will be required. An interview will also be carried out by the programme board. Non-standard applicants are encouraged to apply immediately as it may take up to 6 weeks to process your application and associated documents.

Please contact APAC for more information on the application process.

Additional Requirements


Certificate: 20 months, Diploma: 20 months

Next start date


A Level Grades ()

Average intake


QQI/FET FETAC Entry Routes

Closing Date


NFQ level


Mode of study

ECTS weighting

Certificate (30ECTS) Diploma (30ECTS)



Course code

Course Outline

The taught element of both the Certificate and Diploma course is organised as a 15-day residential summer school at NUI Galway*, followed by independent study, course assignments and a clinical practice component of 100 hours working with children. This workload normally requires a maximum of 20 months to complete and spans over two academic years for each programme. You are supported in your assignment work by your course tutor and are supervised as part of your clinical practice module. 

 Year 1 - Postgraduate Certificate

  • Orientation to setting up and developing practice-based play therapy within an integrated holistic model: pre-requisites, equipment, ethical framework, contracts, role of clinical supervision, clinical governance
  • Using symbolic play therapy tools and metaphor safely in a non directive approach with individual children: art – painting and drawing, clay, creative visualisation, movement, music, puppets, sand play, therapeutic story telling
  • Using creative arts therapies (as a means of processing and reaching the unconscious): child development models, neuroscience evidence, psychological theories
  • Practicum: clinical placement (100 hours working with children)

Module Details

PBP2 Postgraduate Certificate in Arts (Practice Based Play Therapy)  

Year two - Postgraduate Diploma

  • Working therapeutically and developing skills with children – developing metaphorical play therapy skills at an advanced level
  • Working therapeutically and representing children with severe problems – therapeutic decision taking based on deepening skills for working with more severe problems
  • Establishing a play therapy service – critically reviewing existing materials and integrating the therapeutic tool-kit with practice and research
  • Practicum: clinical placement (100 hours working with children)

Module Details

PBP3 Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (Practice Based Play Therapy)

Students who undertake this programme are currently working with children or have arranged to do so before the start of the course. This will enable you to apply theory to practice from the beginning and undertake the clinical practice component of the programme. You will also need to become a registered member of PT(IRl) before commencing the programme so that your clinical practice is governed by a relevant code of ethics.

Download 2021 Practice Based Play Therapy Brochure
Download APAC Enabling Potential Brochure
*The Cert/Diploma is offered as a summer school programme in July each year and also as a weekend programme (5 weekends), in Dublin and Cork. Please contact APAC for start dates in relation to the Cork and Dublin venues.

Further Education

You may progress through the course on a phased basis, initially taking the Certificate and then the Diploma award.

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

The course is run in collaboration with the Academy of Play and Child Psychotherapy (APAC), the course developers. APAC are leaders in developing and providing training for certified play therapists and for CPD requirements both in the UK and internationally. The course has been developed to meet the Play Therapy International (PTI) standards of practice and training, in conjunction with Play Therapy Ireland (PTIr). On completion of the programme you will attain an NUI Galway postgraduate certificate or diploma and you will also receive an internationally recognized play therapy practice qualification to become a certified play therapist.

Qualified play therapists work in a variety of settings including primary schools, special needs schools, pre- schools, primary health care centres, social work centres, child and family centres, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) centres, care homes or adoption/foster care services. Many therapists work independently and set up their own play therapy service.

Who’s Suited to This Course

Learning Outcomes


Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€3,850 (Cert), €3,950 (Diploma)

Fees: Tuition

Fees: Student levy

Fees: Non EU

€4,350 (Cert), €4,450 (Diploma)


Additional Costs

A separate cost is applicable for clinical practice supervision. These fees are payable directly by the student to the supervisor and should be budgeted for separately.

Find out More

Programme Administrator
Tel: 091 495442

Please contact Maria Bayne at for detailed information or to discuss your suitability for the course.


Papia Chatterjee |   Current Student

Even as an experienced early year’s educator, the training involved in becoming a creative art and play therapist has revolutionized my practice. It added a new dimension to my knowledge of early years and has led me to a whole new exciting career path in mental health. The NUI Galway summer school, based in a beautiful campus, provides a comprehensive course well supported by knowledgeable and creative tutors. I found NUI Galway to be well run and organised. Our student cohort was like a small family and I have made life-long friends. I would absolutely recommend this course to anyone who is looking to grow as a mental health professional.

Diana Bigioi |   Current Student

I am a marketing professional and changed my carrier to pursue my lifelong love for children. I have completed both Certificate and Diploma Course in Play Therapy in NUI Galway. This course has been one of the most fulfilling experiences I have ever had. It provided a safe and supportive space to grow in understanding of self and others. The facilitators showed a huge amount of competency, professional skills and kindness. It did really help me to pursue a new career and be qualified as Play Therapist. I am now helping children with different behavioural difficulties and see their slow but steady improvement around school and families. I now know that my life had found its mission. I would recommend the full course to anyone who works with children.


  • Adult Learning Prospectus

    Adult Learning Prospectus PDF (2.7 MB)

  • Postgraduate Prospectus 2022

    Postgraduate Prospectus 2022 PDF (14.3MB)