Play Therapy — Certificate

Interim program director
Kimberly Freeman

Play therapy is a recognized, theoretically-based approach for working with children and adolescents presenting with a number of behavioral health issues. This approach utilizes toys and other expressive activities as forms of communication and as an intervention method for problem solving and promoting well-being.  

The Play Therapy Program certificate is designed to meet the educational requirements of the Association of Play Therapy (APT) to become a registered play therapist (RPT). It also provides students with 50 hours of supervised play therapy experience, which can also be counted toward becoming an RPT.

Objectives

  • Students will understand the history of play therapy and its application in the assessment and treatment of children and youth.
  • Students will understand the theories that inform play therapy with children and adolescents, including those guiding assessment, diagnosis, and specialized interventions.
  • Students will understand the methods and techniques used in play therapy with children and adolescents, including those applicable in specialized interventions.
  • Students will be able to correctly apply play therapy methods and techniques with children and adolescents.

The Play Therapy Program certificate is housed under the Division of Interdisciplinary Studies in the School of Behavioral Health. Programs under the Division of Interdisciplinary Studies are considered areas of study that are applicable to all of the behavioral health professions. As such, these programs bring together the collective academic and clinical expertise of all of the departments in the School of Behavioral Health.

Students concurrently enrolled in a degree program in the School of Behavioral Health need to work with their respective programs to determine if any of the courses in the Play Therapy Program may also count toward electives. University policies regarding double credits for courses apply.

Priority in admissions to the Play Therapy Program certificate curriculum is given to students concurrently enrolled in a master's or doctoral degree program in the School of Behavioral Health. These applicants must:

  1. Already have been accepted in a master's or doctoral program in the School of Behavioral Health.
  2. Be in good behavioral and academic standing (G.P.A. of 3.0 or higher) in their degree program.
  3. Submit an abbreviated application—including a personal statement regarding their interest in play therapy, application fee, and two letters of recommendation (one from a faculty member and one from their program director or department chair approving their concurrent enrollment in the Play Therapy Certificate Program).

Applicants who are not concurrently enrolled in a degree program in the School of Behavioral Health must meet Loma Linda University and the School of Behavioral Health admission requirements as follows:

  1. Have a licensable graduate degree from an accredited university or college. (Official transcripts are evidence of degrees and courses completed.)
  2. Submit at least three letters of recommendation (one from an academic source and one from a work supervisor).
  3. Have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or above (on a 4.0 scale).
  4. If already licensed as a mental health professional, must provide evidence of good standing with the relevant licensing board.
  5. Show evidence of personal qualifications and motivation to complete the Play Therapy Program certificate through:
    • Submission of a completed application (as outlined above).
    • Completion of an admissions interview with the Play Therapy Program admissions committee that evaluates applicants' compatibility with the values of the University and the School of Behavioral Health (including verbal communication skills; critical thinking ability; appreciation of human diversity; evidence of practice maturity, reflective learning, professional comportment, and values congruent with behavioral health professions in the delivery of services).
Required foundation courses
PLTH 513Introduction to Play Therapy3
PLTH 515Play Therapy III: Assessment and Diagnosis2
PLTH 516Child-Centered Play Therapy3
PLTH 517Sandplay: A Therapeutic Process3
REL_ 5__ 13
Required advanced courses
PLTH 547Play Therapy Approaches for Treating Developmental and Behavioral Disorders2
or PLTH 548 Child Psychosocial Play Therapy
PLTH 546Child-Parent Relationship Therapy-CPRT (Filial Therapy)3
PLTH 549Therapeutic Play for Children Affected by Illness and Injury3
PLTH 550Trauma Focused Play Therapy3
PLTH 650Play Therapy with Adolescents and Adults3
PLTH 700Practicum in Play Therapy2
Total Units30
1

Students concurrently enrolled in a degree program in the School of Behavioral Health may apply 3 units of religion taken at Loma Linda University toward the religion requirement in the Play Therapy Program.

Students who are not concurrently enrolled in another degree program are required to take 3 units of religion. Students select the religion course to be taken in consultation with their advisor.

Normal time to complete the program

7 academic quarters based on less than half-time enrollment

Courses

PLTH 513. Introduction to Play Therapy. 3 Units.

Provides content on the history and various theoretical underpinnings of play therapy while emphasizing the importance of professional ethics and legal guidelines when conducting play therapy. Gives attention to the explanatory nature of theories as informing methods and techniques used in assessment and healing processes. Introduces three of the most widely used theories of play therapy—Child Centered Play Therapy, Cognitive-Behavioral Play Therapy, and Gestalt Play Therapy. Designed for students who have already taken the theory courses required in their respective degree areas. Requires permission of instructor.

PLTH 515. Play Therapy III: Assessment and Diagnosis. 2 Units.

Foundational play therapy course that provides content on structured and informal assessment processes and techniques. Social and symbolic play provides balance of content and process of differential diagnosis from a neurocognitive basis of development, including variations in the developmental sequence caused by developmental disorders.

PLTH 516. Child-Centered Play Therapy. 3 Units.

A foundation play therapy course that provides a systematic treatment approach to child-generated play. Combines didactic presentations and experiential activities that detail the four major elements of CCPT technique: structuring, reflective listening, fantasy play, and limit setting. Gives attention to history and theory of CCPT, the benefits of the model, assessment, and combining CCPT with other models of child therapy.

PLTH 517. Sandplay: A Therapeutic Process. 3 Units.

Foundational play therapy course providing didactics on the theoretical basis, content, and process of sandplay. Active learning experiences provide students with opportunities to observe and engage in sandplay with children.

PLTH 546. Child-Parent Relationship Therapy-CPRT (Filial Therapy). 3 Units.

Provides students with an understanding of evidence-based play therapy interventions that support filial (parent-child) communication and relationships as children experiencing social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties are treated. Builds upon a previous foundation of play therapy course work.

PLTH 547. Play Therapy Approaches for Treating Developmental and Behavioral Disorders. 2 Units.

Advanced play therapy course that provides content on the theory, methods, and techniques used in Developmental Play Therapy. Content emphasizes methodologies that provide children with developmental experiences essential to physical and social-emotional growth, as well as a secure attachment in the child-parent relationship in situations where a diagnosis may affect the quality of the child-parent relationship. Emphasizes techniques used to promote sensory integration and self-regulation, as well as adaptations of play techniques for use with children diagnosed with learning challenges, autism, and other developmental delays. Explores adjunctive resources and concrete methods for working with parents and school personnel in a manner that assists in the generalization of skills learned through play therapy. Completion of foundational play therapy courses required prior to taking this course.

PLTH 548. Child Psychosocial Play Therapy. 2 Units.

Advanced play therapy course that provides content on strategies and methods used to help children and families address environmental and life/stress adjustment issues. Includes support that enhances child and family wellness by helping children and families understand and develop self-regulation toward improved functioning. Presents a wide range of structured play therapy techniques and their theoretical underpinnings. Completion of foundational play therapy courses required prior to taking this course.

PLTH 549. Therapeutic Play for Children Affected by Illness and Injury. 3 Units.

Teaches the developmental aspects of play therapy, in collaboration with the developmental stages of the child/teen and family in the context of a health-care setting. Provides student with an experiential understanding of play therapy, recreation therapy, education, and practice.

PLTH 550. Trauma Focused Play Therapy. 3 Units.

This course covers play therapy techniques used to help children prevent or resolve psychosocial challenges following trauma and achieve optimal growth and development. The course utilizes current trauma research and will consist of basic principles of intervention as well as ethical/legal guidelines for the assessment and treatment of traumatized children. Expressive play therapies such as drawings, games, and other symbolic techniques which enable children to externalize and process trauma related experiences in a nonthreatening way will be covered along with aspects of the trauma resiliency model. A emphasis on techniques that can be use within a global context will also be provided.

PLTH 650. Play Therapy with Adolescents and Adults. 3 Units.

Advanced play therapy course that emphasizes play therapy with adolescents and adults. Topics include play therapy techniques to engage adolescents/adults, including: transitional objects using a nondirective stance; games of rapport, courtesy, and good habits; metaphorical thinking; grounded play therapy; poetry and drama; cognitive-behavioral interventions for anger, bullies, victims, and bystanders; and filial therapy with adolescents. Foundational play therapy courses required prior to taking this course.

PLTH 700. Practicum in Play Therapy. 2 Units.

Provides 45 contact hours of practice in play therapy assessment, diagnosis, and intervention techniques with children and their parents enrolled in services at the Behavioral Health Institute. Students, practicing under the direct supervision of a qualified instructor, receive 5 contact hours of supervision by a registered play therapist. An In Progress (IP) notation recorded during the five quarters usually needed to compete this practicum experience. Foundational play therapy courses required prior to taking this course.