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How to become a Play Therapist

Play Therapist
avg. starting salary

Looking for a job that’s all work and all play? You should become a Play Therapist… Play Therapists use creative play to communicate with, understand, and help children (usually aged between three and eleven) who are struggling with a range of emotional issues. It could be that they’re the victim of abuse, neglect, or bereavement, or they have learning or psychological problems. By using anything from drawing, toys, and music to storytelling and clay, Play Therapists are able to help children express themselves in a safe environment. They then look for signs and symbols the child creates, and use their findings to suggest and implement positive changes. Typical tasks and duties for a Play Therapist include:
  • Organising regular therapy sessions (either one-on-one or in groups)
  • Observing children to understand their needs
  • Choosing the correct type of therapeutic play
  • Developing a trusting relationship with children
  • Reviewing and reporting on children’s progress
  • Communicating findings to parents, carers, teachers, or social workers

Aside from a high level of empathy and an ability to communicate well with children, you’ll also need creativity, motivation, and a broad knowledge of child development. Additionally, you’ll need to be emotionally resilient enough to deal with children who may not want to cooperate and are upset or angry. This involves providing unbiased support both professionally and confidentially. Other key skills for a Play Therapist include:
  • Sincerity
  • Strong observational skills
  • Excellent listening skills
  • Imagination
  • Self-awareness
  • A trustworthy nature


Trainee Play Therapist

Up to £25,000

Play Therapist

Up to £40,000

Play Therapy Director

Up to £60,000

"After studying psychology at university, I became fascinated with the different types of therapy, and as child development was something I specialised in – I knew I wanted to take it further. So I did a postgrad in play therapy, and became a fully qualified Play Therapist. My day-to-day is unpredictable – but it’s all about making the kids enjoy themselves through all kinds of therapeutic play. Not only is this a great way to help them relax and have fun, it also means they’re more likely to open up about their problems – even if it’s just through the way they play with a toy. Spotting subtle actions and movements is a key part of being a Play Therapist, so if you need to look twice to notice anything, you’re probably looking at the wrong job…"

Get qualified

All Play Therapist jobs