Graduate Diploma of Therapeutic Child Play

Postgraduate coursework

Designed for those working with children on a regular basis, develop valuable new skills and evidence-based techniques to pursue more rewarding work.

Domestic International

Domestic student information

Learn from academics who are pioneers in the field

Pathway to the accredited masters course in play therapy

Flexible study on our premium online learning platform

Key facts


1 year full-time or part-time equivalent


There may be on campus intensives offered.


Current Deakin Students

To access your official course details for the year you started your degree, please visit the handbook

Course overview

Enrich your work with children and develop evidence-based techniques for better understanding children and their behaviour with the Graduate Diploma of Therapeutic Child Play. Get industry experience with 65 hours of clinical placement and learn alongside pioneering academics in Australian child play therapy research.

Want valuable new skills that allow you to pursue more rewarding work with children and their families?

The Graduate Diploma of Therapeutic Child Play is designed for those working with children on a regular basis, from health professionals to educators. It builds on the theories, models and practices learned at the graduate certificate level, and trains you to introduce play assessment and directive approaches in therapeutic play into your work with children.

You will examine child development from many different angles, with a particular focus on psychosocial, emotional and behavioural development. You will also explore childhood neuroscience and psychopathy, developmental trauma, and neurodevelopmental differences including autism.

The course can be used as a pathway into the Master of Child Play Therapy, and includes eight units from the masters course:

  • Foundations of Play Therapy
  • Child Attachment Environment and Trauma
  • Assessment and Measurement in Play Abilities
  • Childhood Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology
  • Therapeutic Use of Self
  • Engaging Children in Play Using Directive Approaches
  • Research Literacy
  • Therapeutic Medical Play

You will learn how to assess and observe a child’s play behaviour, and ways to enhance a child’s play ability, not just through case studies but through practical experience in a clinical setting. 65 hours of clinical placement allows you to develop skills in engaging children in play using directive approaches while being supervised by a clinician experienced in the modality. It also provides an opportunity to build professional relationships that can kickstart your career growth when you graduate.

A highlight of the course is being able to learn from academic staff who are not just involved in the field but leading the way through the work and research they contribute. We have staff involved with key Australian and International Play Therapy organisations such as the International Play Therapy Study Group (IPTSG) and the International Consortium of Play Therapy Associations and their insights, case studies and experiences are filtered into the course.

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Course information

Award granted
Graduate Diploma of Therapeutic Child Play

2024 course information

Deakin code
Postgraduate (Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma)
Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) recognition

The award conferred upon completion is recognised in the Australian Qualifications Framework at Level 8

Course structure

To complete the Graduate Diploma of Therapeutic Child Play students must attain 8 credit points. All 8 of these units are core within the Graduate Diploma (these are compulsory).

All commencing Faculty of Health Undergraduate and Postgraduate course work students are required to complete DAI001 Academic Integrity Module (0-credit-point compulsory unit) in their first trimester of study.

Core units

Trimester 1

  • Academic Integrity Module (0 credit points)
  • Foundations of Play Therapy
  • Child Attachment Environment and Trauma
  • Therapeutic Assessment of Play
  • Childhood Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology
  • Trimester 2

  • Therapeutic Use of Self
  • Engaging Children in Play Using Directive Approaches
  • Research Literacy
  • Therapeutic Medical Play
  • Intakes by location

    The availability of a course varies across locations and intakes. This means that a course offered in Trimester 1 may not be offered in the same location for Trimester 2 or 3. Check each intake for up-to-date information on when and where you can commence your studies.

    Trimester 1 - March

    • Start date: March
    • Available at:
      • Online

    Additional course information

    Course duration

    Course duration may be affected by delays in completing course requirements, such as accessing or completing work placements.

    Mandatory student checks

    In accordance with Department of Human Services policy, all students are required to undertake a National Police Record Check prior to their first placement unit. This police check needs to be completed annually for the duration of the course.

    Students are also required to hold a current Working with Children Check in Victoria (or the interstate equivalent).

    Students who fail to obtain both a Police Record Check and Working with Children Check prior to the commencement of their first placement unit will not be able to commence placement and this will impede progress in the course.

    The Faculty of Health Work Integrated Learning Team utilise an online service called 'Fit2Work' for police checks, and students will receive an email with instructions on how to apply. Students should not apply for a police check until they have received this email from Fit2Work. This police check needs to be completed prior to commencing a placement unit and must be current to the year you are undertaking placement.


    As a student undertaking an online course (with on-campus intensives in some units) in the Faculty of Health you will be expected to participate in a range of learning activities each week. You will spend 11-13 hours per unit (i.e., per 1 credit point unit) each week engaging in a combination of self-paced study, seminars, online interactions and assessment tasks during the trimester teaching period. In some instances, teaching intensives, placements and assessment tasks may also take place outside of the trimester teaching periods. You can refer to the individual unit details in the course structure for more information on each unit.

    If you are undertaking the course full-time you can anticipate spending 40 or more hours per week in study across Trimester 1. Trimester 1 focuses on theoretical knowledge and consists of four theory units (HSO710, HSO711, HSO713 and HSO715). These units are designed to be self-paced so that you can work through the material at a time that suits. However, students who are working or who have other significant commitments typically undertake the course part-time.

    There are also significant placement and campus requirements throughout the program. Within the Diploma of Therapeutic Child Play students complete one placement unit (HSO712). Within this unit you will undertake 65 clinical hours and 18 hours of online supervision. Clinical supervisors are provided by Deakin. Placement units run the full length of the trimester including the study and end of unit assessment period. All placements must be undertaken in Australia.

    Each placement unit also consists of an intensive teaching workshop held prior to the start of placement. Intensive workshops may take place outside of the trimester teaching period. You will be required to attend intensive workshops live across consecutive days and will need to take time off work and other commitments to attend. The intensive workshop for HSO712 is held virtually across 3 days. Students who progress to the Master of Child Play Therapy will undertake an additional two placement units (HSO720 and HSO723). Teaching intensive workshop dates are listed here.

    Participation requirements

    The course involves a compulsory clinical placement of 65 hours and 18 hours of online supervision during Trimester 2 for the placement unit HSO712 Engaging Children in Play Using Directive Approaches. Placement units run the full length of the trimester including the study and examination period. All placements must be undertaken in Australia.

    Compulsory attendance is required across a 5-day intensive. prior to the start of placement for HSO712. Intensive workshops may take place outside of the trimester teaching period. Students are required to attend intensive workshops live across consecutive days and will need to take time off work and other commitments to attend. Workshop dates are listed here.

    Work experience

    This course includes a mandatory 1 credit point placement unit (HSO712) that requires students to undertake 65 hours of practical experience. This experience may be in a school environment or community-based clinic, where the student will undertake supervised practice in engaging children in play using directive approaches. All placements must be undertaken in Australia.

    Entry requirements

    Selection is based on a holistic consideration of your academic merit, work experience, likelihood of success, availability of places, participation requirements, regulatory requirements, and individual circumstances. You will need to meet the minimum academic and English language proficiency requirements to be considered for selection, but this does not guarantee admission.

    Please note, there are limited places in this course and entry is competitive. Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit an application as soon as possible. Applications for this course may close prior to the published closing date if all places are filled.

    Academic requirements

    To be considered for admission to this degree you will need to meet at least one of the following criteria:

    • completion of a bachelor degree or higher
    • two years' of relevant work experience (or part-time equivalent)

    English language proficiency requirements

    To meet the English language proficiency requirements of this course, you will need to demonstrate at least one of the following:

    Admissions information

    Learn more about Deakin courses and how we compare to other universities when it comes to the quality of our teaching and learning.

    Not sure if you can get into Deakin postgraduate study? Postgraduate study doesn’t have to be a balancing act; we provide flexible course entry and exit options based on your desired career outcomes and the time you are able to commit to your study.

    Recognition of prior learning

    Students may be eligible to apply for credit for this course.

    Pathways for credit are available for this course.

    Guaranteed pathways

    Students who complete the following courses will be guaranteed a place in the course and receive credit as specified:

    Graduate Certificate of Therapeutic Child Play, 4 credit points

    Fees and scholarships

    Fee information

    Estimated tuition fee - full-fee paying place
    $30,800 for 1 yr full-time - Full-fee paying place
    Learn more about fees and your options for paying.

    The available fee places for this course are detailed above. Not all courses at Deakin have Commonwealth supported places available.

    The 'Estimated tuition fee' is provided as a guide only based on a typical enrolment of students completing this course within the same year. The cost will vary depending on the units you choose, your study load, the length of your course and any approved Recognition of prior learning.

    One year full-time study load is typically represented by eight credit points of study. Each unit you enrol in has a credit point value. The 'Estimated tuition fee' is calculated by adding together eight credit points of a typical combination of units for your course.

    You can find the credit point value of each unit under the Unit Description by searching for the unit in the handbook.

    Learn more about fees and available payment options.

    FEE-HELP calculator

    What is FEE-HELP?

    FEE-HELP loans cover up to 100% of tuition fees for eligible students. By taking out a FEE-HELP loan, the government pays your tuition fees directly to Deakin, and the balance is repaid from your employment income - but only once you're earning over $51,550.

    Please note: fees shown by the calculator are indicative only and based on 2024 rates. Actual fees may vary. We advise confirming fees with Prospective Student Enquiries prior to enrolment.

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    • $* is the estimated full cost for a Graduate Diploma of Therapeutic Child Play (8 credit points), based on the 2024 fees.
    • is the annual FEE-HELP payment, based on your current salary
    • of your current salary be spent on FEE-HELP


    Deakin University (Deakin):

    • gives no warranty and accepts no responsibility for the currency, accuracy or the completeness of the information provided;
    • advises users that no reliance should be placed upon on the information provided, and;
    • instructs users that they should confirm the actual course fee with Prospective Student Enquiries prior to enrolment.

    This tool provides indicative information about the fees that will be payable in respect of courses and subjects offered to prospective students domiciled in Australia during the periods indicated.

    Please note that the fees shown by the calculator are indicative only and actual fees may vary. Users are advised to confirm the actual course fee with Prospective Student Enquiries prior to enrolment.

    The estimated course fee is based on the tuition fee costs applicable to a domestic full time student commencing the course in Trimester 1 and studying full time for the duration of the course but:

    • does not include non-tuition costs that may apply, such as Student Services and Amenities Fees (SSAF);
    • does not take into account any scholarships or bursaries awarded to the student (including the 10% Deakin alumni discount);
    • assumes the maximum number of units that need to be successfully completed actual number completed may be reduced if recognition of prior learning is granted;
    • assumes that no exceptional, or non-typical, circumstances apply to the proposed course of study;
    • assumes that the options that the user selects are appropriate for the course of study that they intend to undertake;
    • where fees are estimated for future years those fee will be subject to annual increases in accordance with increases in the cost of course delivery.

    Scholarship options

    A Deakin scholarship might change your life. If you've got something special to offer Deakin – or you just need the financial help to get you here – we may have a scholarship opportunity for you.

    Search or browse through our scholarships

    Postgraduate bursary

    If you’re a Deakin alumnus commencing a postgraduate award course, you may be eligible to receive a 10% reduction per unit on your enrolment fees.

    Learn more about the 10% Deakin alumni discount

    Apply now

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    Applications for Trimester 1, 2025 open in August.

    In the meantime, why not speak to our student advisers about your course and career options? It’s the best way for future students like you to get expert advice on preparing your application.

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    For more information on the application process and closing dates, see the How to apply webpage. If you're still having problems, please contact us for assistance.

    Entry pathways

    This course provides a pathway to other postgraduate coursework programs.

    Alternative exits

    Contact information

    Our friendly advisers are available to speak to you one-on-one about your study options, support services and how we can help you further your career.


    Career outcomes

    The Graduate Diploma of Therapeutic Child Play is particularly valuable for those already working closely with children, including teachers, counsellors, occupational therapists, nurses, social workers, speech pathologists and mental health professionals. The course also provides significant benefits for parents and caregivers who want to be better equipped for the complex and everyday challenges of children’s development.

    The skills you will learn will allow you to perform your current role more effectively, and will also open the door to more advanced roles within your profession.

    If you are aspiring to become a Registered Play Therapist, you can continue your studies into the Master of Child Play Therapy upon successful completion of the graduate diploma. With registration, you can start working independently as a play therapist in:

    • private practice
    • schools
    • hospitals
    • charitable organisations
    • government departments

    Professional recognition

    Professional recognition is available to students who progress their studies through to successful completion of the Master of Child Play Therapy. Graduates of the masters course will be eligible to apply for registration as a Play Therapist with the Australasia Pacific Play Therapy Association (APPTA).

    Students who complete the Graduate Diploma of Therapeutic Child Play may apply the knowledge and skills learnt in the Graduate Diploma to their primary discipline and/or current work with children and families. The Graduate Diploma of Therapeutic Child play does not equip you as a Play Therapist. Students seeking training and registration as a Play Therapist should complete the Master of Child Play Therapy.

    Note: All information regarding professional recognition is accurate at the date of publication. Enquiries regarding accreditation and professional membership should be directed to the School of Health and Social Development in order to ascertain the current status of accreditation at any future point in time beyond publication. Representations about accreditation apply only to the course, and the relevant professional body retains discretion as to who they admit as members of their association. Deakin University cannot exercise any control over membership of an external body.

    Course learning outcomes

    Deakin's graduate learning outcomes describe the knowledge and capabilities graduates can demonstrate at the completion of their course. These outcomes mean that regardless of the Deakin course you undertake, you can rest assured your degree will teach you the skills and professional attributes that employers value. They'll set you up to learn and work effectively in the future.

    Graduate Learning Outcomes

    Course Learning Outcomes

    Discipline-specific knowledge and capabilities

    Integrate knowledge of attachment, child development, neuroscience and psychopathology to design, implement and scaffold a therapeutic child play intervention.


    Demonstrate verbal, written and interpersonal communication skills necessary to convey ideas, proposals and findings, pertaining to therapeutic child play to a variety of audiences.

    Digital literacy

    Use appropriate technologies to find, use and disseminate information; and use technologies consistent with ethico-legal requirements for the management of personal information and clinical record keeping.

    Critical thinking

    Demonstrate an ethical research approach to identify, analyse and critically evaluate evidenced-based practice integrated with relevant literature.

    Problem solving

    Apply knowledge and skills to assess, plan, implement, evaluate a therapeutic treatment plan or refer to a Child Play Therapist or other Practitioner.


    Demonstrate personal autonomy and professional judgement in the field of therapeutic child play showing responsibility and accountability, in conjunction with reflective and ethical practice.


    Establish and maintain collaborative professional relationships demonstrating responsibility and accountability to the child, family and carers.

    Global citizenship

    Demonstrate professional and ethical practice and respect for diverse social, cultural and environmental contexts that may impact children and families.