Master of Child Play Therapy

Postgraduate coursework

The Master of Child Play Therapy at Deakin is the first child play therapy postgraduate course offered by an Australian university.

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


2 years full-time or part-time equivalent.


  • Online, however there are significant placement and campus requirements
Cloud (online)

Key dates

Direct applications to Deakin for Trimester 1 2023 close 29 January 2023

Current Deakin Students

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

Course overview

The Master of Child Play Therapy trains you to support children’s psychosocial and emotional health and wellbeing through play. Graduate from this internationally recognised course ready to apply for registration as a play therapist, and join a rewarding profession that’s growing in demand.

Want the skills to make a profound impact on the long-term health and happiness of children?

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 developmental sensitivity. It allows children to express themselves through a comforting and familiar medium. With a skilled therapist, engaging with a child in play can reveal both the reason for and solution to change emotional and behavioural symptoms, through the therapeutic powers of play. Just as adults need to talk about their challenges with a counsellor or psychologist, children can benefit greatly from playing out their feelings with a play therapist.

If you already love working with children and want to play a pivotal role in their emotional and social development, a career in play therapy will be incredibly rewarding. The Master of Child Play Therapy will give you everything you need to get there. It is an internationally recognised degree, accredited by the Australasia Pacific Play Therapy Association (APPTA), and the only course of its kind offered by an Australian university. It’s also a recognised pathway to becoming a Registered Play Therapist. Upon graduation, you will have the practical experience and professional recognition needed to apply for registration.

The course explores evidence-based principles in play therapy, and the study areas you will cover reflect the needs of the industry today and into the future. Some of the key areas include:

  • foundations of play therapy
  • neuroscience and psychopathology in children
  • childhood development
  • child attachment
  • trauma
  • therapeutic assessment
  • therapeutic medical play
  • engaging children in play
  • humanistic skills
  • filial therapy

A strong focus of the curriculum is developing your interpersonal, creative and expressive skills. These are crucial skills that allow you to work more effectively with both children and their families.

While the course is conveniently delivered on our premium online learning platform, allowing you to study at your own pace, there are many opportunities to apply your skills through practical learning in your own community. For example, you will get to experience what it’s really like to work as a play therapist through 250 hours of clinical placement. You can secure placements in a variety of settings such as preschools, childcare centres, primary schools, allied health services, disability services and private practice. For students interested in continuing their studies at a research level, the course offers elective research units that develop your practical research skills and hone your critical analysis.

Another 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 working within key Australian and International Play Therapy Associations, their insights, case studies and experiences are fed straight into the course.

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Course information

Award granted
Master of Child Play Therapy

2023 course information

Deakin code
Higher Degree Coursework (Masters and Doctorates)
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 9.

Course structure

To complete the Master of Child Play Therapy students must attain 12 credit points. Units may be worth 1 or 2 credit points - check each unit for its credit point value in the course structure below10 credit points are core (these are compulsory) plus 2 elective credit point (you can choose which one to study from the list provided) in Year 1 Trimester 2.

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).

Students may exit the course after completing a specified sequence of 4 units for the award H505 Graduate Certificate of Therapeutic Child Play, or after completing the specified sequence of 8 units for the award H605 Graduate Diploma of Therapeutic Child Play.

Core units

Year 1 - 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 *
  • Year 1 - Trimester 2

  • Therapeutic Use of Self
  • Engaging Children in Play Using Directive Approaches
  • and two 1CP elective units

    Year 2 - Trimester 1

  • Humanistic Play Therapy
  • Year 2 - Trimester 2

  • Systemic Play Therapy
  • Professional Practice and Behaviour
  • *must complete prerequisite for HSO712 

    Elective units

    Select two 1 credit point elective units

  • Research Literacy **
  • and one of

  • Therapeutic Medical Play
  • Determinants of Health and Wellbeing in the Lives of People with Disability
  • OR

    Select both elective units: 

  • Minor Project A ***
  • Minor Project B ***
  • ** must select a research pathway of either HSH725 and one other elective or HSH731 and HSH732 (i.e. must complete at least one research unit)

    *** must complete if student wishes to undertake HDR minimum entry requirement and must attain >70% grade.

    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 mode, however there are significant placement and campus requirements

    Trimester 2 - July

    • Start date: July
    • Available at:
      • Cloud Campus mode, however there are significant placement and campus requirements.

    Additional course information

    Domestic students enrolled in this postgraduate coursework program may be eligible for student income support through Youth Allowance and Austudy.

    Further information can be found at Deakin University's Fees website.

    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

    Inherent requirements

    Applications are accepted from students who possess the skills and prerequisites required to complete the course, gain professional certification and practise safely. The inherent requirements of the course are listed here.

    Police Record Check

    In accordance with the policies of health and human services organisations, all students are required to undertake a Police Record Check prior to undertaking professional placements in each calendar year that they are enrolled in a placement unit. Students who fail to obtain a Police Record Check prior to the commencement of a professional placement will not be able to undertake their mandatory placement units and this will impede progress in the course.

    Students with a criminal record are not precluded from enrolling in play therapy degrees at Deakin but may face difficulties in obtaining placements which are required to complete the degree. Many agencies are reluctant to place students whom they perceive may place service users staff or the organisation itself at risk, e.g. when offending has involved crimes of violence against children or adults, or crimes of deception such as fraud and embezzlement

    Working With Children Check (or State/Territory equivalent)

    In accordance with the Worker Screening Act 2020, all students are required to undertake a Working with Children Check at the commencement of their course. Students who fail to obtain a Working with Children Check prior to the commencement of professional placement will not be able to undertake their mandatory placement units and this will impede progress in the course.

    Immunisation Status

    Students are a potential source of infection for service users and colleagues and may be required to comply with any requirements for immunisation as specified by a particular placement organisation. Students are required to declare their immunisation status to satisfy the requirements of health and human service organisations where they will be undertaking their professional learning experience. A placement organisation may refuse to accept a student for placement if the student’s immunisation status is not satisfactory to the placement organisation. This may impede progression in the 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, and play assessment, 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 at the Geelong Waterfront Campus 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 250 hours in a professional placement there are 70 hours of online clinical supervision.

    The placements must be undertaken in Australia.

    Compulsory attendance of 12 days is required over the course which is broken into three on campus intensive placement workshops at the Geelong Waterfront Campus. 1 x 4 days in year 1 Trimester 2, 1 x 5 days in year 2 trimester 1 and 1 x 3 days in year 2 Trimester 2.

    Work experience

    There are clinical placements throughout the course - see individual unit descriptions for full details. These 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 in a related discipline or


    • Bachelor Degree or higher in any discipline AND 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

    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 the first year of this course. 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 $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

    FEE-HELP payments

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    after FEE-HELP and tax

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    Your estimated FEE-HELP repayments

    • $* is the estimated full cost for a Master of Child Play Therapy (12 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 higher degree by research courses and other postgraduate coursework programs.

    Students who complete H605 Graduate Diploma of Therapeutic Child Play will be guaranteed entry into the H706 Master of Child Play Therapy and receive up to 8 credit points.

    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)
    Live Chat Mon–Thurs, 8am–7pm, Fri 8am–5pm


    Career outcomes

    Play therapy is an emerging profession in Australia. Parents and healthcare providers are becoming increasingly aware of the value of play therapy, especially as mental health issues in children continue to rise. As a result, the demand for qualified therapists has increased. The Master of Child Play Therapy puts you in a strong position to take advantage of this growing demand.

    When you graduate from the course, you will be eligible to apply for registration as a play therapist with the Australasia Pacific Play Therapy Association (APPTA). Once you are registered, you can start working independently as a play therapist in:

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

    Your unique skill set will also open up employment opportunities in other areas that intersect with children's health such as:

    • child protection and children's services
    • domestic violence support
    • family support services
    • the legal system (particularly in court evaluations of children’s needs)

    Professional recognition

    Graduates of this course will be eligible to apply to become a Registered 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

    Apply an advanced and integrated theoretical and practical knowledge of the principles underlying Play Therapy and the processes involved in therapeutic practice.


    Demonstrate verbal, written and interpersonal communication necessary to interpret theoretical positions, convey ideas, proposals and findings, pertaining to Play Therapy, to a specialist and non-specialist audiences.

    Digital literacy

    Use appropriate technologies to locate credible discipline-specific information and disseminate this information to specialist and other professional groups in an ethical and professional manner.

    Critical thinking

    Demonstrate an ethical research approach to critically evaluate, analyse and synthesize complex cases, problems, concepts and theories in the field of Play Therapy.

    Problem solving

    Apply advanced knowledge and skills to and select appropriate therapeutic approach(s) and modify treatment plans as required to solve a range of problems within the field of Play Therapy.


    Demonstrate personal autonomy and expert professional judgement in the field of Play Therapy showing responsibility and accountability, in conjunction with reflective practice.


    Establish and maintain collaborative professional relationships demonstrating responsibility and accountability to the child, family, carers, multidisciplinary professionals and other relevant stakeholders.

    Global citizenship

    Demonstrate professional and ethical practice and respect for diverse social, cultural and environmental contexts, and an awareness of international developments in Play Therapy.