Graduate Diploma of Therapeutic Child Play

Postgraduate coursework

Postgrad study in therapeutic child play at Deakin will give you the additional skills to pursue your rewarding work with children and their families.

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.

Cloud (online)

Key dates

Direct applications to Deakin for Trimester 1 2023 close 19 February 2023

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 their behaviour with the Graduate Diploma of Therapeutic Child Play. Get industry experience with 60 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?

Even adults with years of life experience can find it hard to work through difficult feelings associated with mental health, trauma, self-esteem and relationships. When it comes to children, especially those without well-developed coping skills, these feelings can lead to problematic behaviour. Play therapy is increasingly being used as a way of helping children overcome these issues and make sense of their experiences. The beauty of play therapy is its simplicity. It allows children to express themselves through a comforting and familiar medium.

The Graduate Diploma of Therapeutic Child Play is designed for those working with children on a regular basis, from allied health professionals to educators. It builds on the theories, models and practices learned at the graduate certificate level, and trains you to introduce play into your work as a coping and expressive mechanism for the children you interact with. You will examine child development from many different angles, with a particular focus on cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, biological, motor, moral and developmental disorders. You will also explore childhood neuroscience and psychopathology, covering a range of mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), autism spectrum disorders, eating disorders, child abuse and bereavement.

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, not just through case studies but through practical experience in a clinical setting. 60 hours of clinical placement allows you to examine behavioural characteristics alongside an experienced play therapist. It also provides the 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 with extensive experience both in Australia and globally. We have staff working within key organisations like the Association for the Wellbeing of Children in Healthcare (AWCH) and Australasia Pacific Play Therapy Association (APPTA), and their incredible research, case studies and experiences are fed straight into the course.

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Course information

Award granted
Graduate Diploma of Therapeutic Child Play

2023 course information

Deakin code
Postgraduate (Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma)
Approval status

This course is approved by the University under the Higher Education Standards Framework.

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 HAI010 Academic Integrity in their first trimester of study (0 credit point compulsory unit).


Compulsory units


Selective units



Core units

Trimester 1

  • Academic Integrity (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
  • Campuses by intake

    Campus availability varies per trimester. This means that a course offered in Trimester 1 may not be offered in the same location for Trimester 2 or 3. Read more to learn where this course will be offered throughout the year.

    Trimester 1 - March

    • Start date: March
    • Available at:
      • Cloud Campus

    Trimester 2 - July

    • Start date: July
    • Available at:
      • Cloud Campus - part time students only

    Additional course information

    Course duration - additional information

    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 at the commencement of their course. 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) at the commencement of their course.

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

    NB: Clinical components include observation of a child at play, infant-parent observation, play assessment, and a clinical placement in therapeutic play, which must be undertaken in Australia.

    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.


    As a student in an online course with on campus intensives in some units in the Faculty of Health you will be expected to spend at least 11-13 hours per unit every week participating in a range of teaching activities each week. This could include classes, seminars, practicals, placements and online interaction via CloudDeakin. You can refer to the individual unit details in the course structure for more information. You will also need to study and complete assessment tasks in your own time. Teaching, placements and assessment tasks may take place outside of Deakin University teaching periods.

    Students are required to attend intensive workshops for several units in the Master of Child Play Therapy and Graduate Diploma of Therapeutic Child Play. Dates for 2023 will be available soon.

    Participation requirements

    The course involves a compulsory clinical placement of 60 hours during Trimester 2. The placements must be undertaken Australia.

    Compulsory attendance is required at a four-day on-campus intensive placement workshop at the Geelong Waterfront Campus as well as the 60 hours in a professional placement and 17 hours of online clinical supervision.

    Placement can occur at any time, including during standard holiday breaks listed here

    Work experience

    The course includes units that requires students to undertake at least 10 hours (HSO710 – 3 hours, HSO711 – 6 hours and HSO713 – 1 hour) of suitable practical experience in Australia. This experience may be in an educational setting, private practice, home environment or public area, where the student will observe and analyse e.g. child play and family interactions.

    The course includes a mandatory 1 credit point unit (HSO712), that requires students to undertake at least 60 hours of suitable 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. The placements must be undertaken in Australia.

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    Entry requirements

    Entry information

    Entry will be based on performance in:

    • Bachelor Degree or higher


    • two years relevant work experience or


    • evidence of academic capability judged to be equivalent

    Deakin University offers admission to postgraduate courses through a number of Admission categories.

    All applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements.

    Please note that meeting the minimum admission requirements does not guarantee selection, which is based on merit, likelihood of success and availability of places in the course.

    For more information on the Admission Criteria and Selection (Higher Education Courses) Policy visit the Deakin Policy Library

    Recognition of prior learning

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

    Pathways for credit are available for this course. Details of institutional credit agreements are published in the RPL database.

    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
    $29,800 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 as they started. 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 four credit points of study for Graduate Certificates. Each unit you enrol in has a credit point value. The 'Estimated tuition fee' is calculated by adding together four 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 $47,014.

    Please note: fees shown by the calculator are indicative only and based on 2022 rates. Actual fees may vary. We advise confirming fees with Prospective Student Enquiries prior to enrolment.

    Estimate your FEE-HELP

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    • $* is the estimated full cost for a Graduate Diploma of Therapeutic Child Play (8 credit points), based on the 2022 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

    Apply direct to Deakin

    Applications can be made directly to the University through the Deakin Application Portal. For information on the application process and closing dates, see the how to apply web page. Please note that closing dates may vary for individual courses.

    Need more information on how to apply?

    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.

    Call us 1800 693 888 (Mon–Fri, 9am–5pm)
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    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’ll 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).

    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.