Master of Child Play Therapy Inherent Requirements

Master of Child Play Therapy students must demonstrate a range of inherent skills and behaviours as part of their course requirements.

To participate in the Master of Child Play Therapy, students must meet the inherent requirements outlined below.

Ethical behaviour

Play therapy is a profession guided by the Clinical Competencies and Practice Standards; Guidelines for Ethical Play Therapy Practice; Personal Qualities; and associated policies of the Australasia Pacific Play Therapy Association (APPTA). Play therapists are accountable and responsible for ensuring professional behaviour in all contexts.

Play therapists practising in all states and territories of Australia are subject to a statutory Code of Conduct for Allied Health Professionals Australia (AHPA). Play therapists must adhere to the Code of Conduct and should demonstrate knowledge of and engage in ethical behaviour in practice, including:

  • Compliance with the code, guidelines and policies facilitates safe, competent interactions and relationships for students and/or the people they engage with.
  • Demonstrate ability to reflect on ethical dilemmas and issues and take responsibility for ensuring awareness of ethical behaviour.
  • Understanding and practising appropriate professional boundaries including confidentiality and duty of care in work with clients in placement settings.

Behavioural and emotional stability

Play therapist students will need emotional stability to function and adapt effectively and sensitively in their role. Students need to demonstrate behavioural and emotional stability to work constructively in diverse and changing academic and clinical environments. Students will be exposed to situations which are challenging and unpredictable and will be required to have the behavioural and emotional stability to manage these events.

The play therapist needs to be receptive and respond appropriately to constructive feedback and manage own emotions and behaviours effectively when dealing with individuals such as academics, fellow students, supervisors and clients, both in an online learning environment, and in placement settings.


Play therapy practice is covered by legislation pertaining to health professions that are not subject to state registration, to enable the safe delivery of service provision. Play therapists are subject to laws governing child protection, mandatory notification of children and young people at risk, and criminal activity. Play therapy practice is further covered by industry self-regulation and supervision through professional play therapy organisations. Students must have know and comply with state and federal Australian Law, professional regulations, and scope of practice.

Knowledge, understanding and compliance with legislative and regulatory requirements are necessary pre-requisites to placements to reduce the risk of harm to self and others. Compliance with these professional regulations and the Australian law in the placement setting ensures that students are both responsible and accountable for their practice.


This course requires developed, verbal, visual, non-verbal and written communication skills.


Effective verbal communication, in English, is an essential requirement to provide safe and effective delivery of therapeutic services.

Students are required to demonstrate:

  • Sensitivity to individual and/or cultural differences and to be able to communicate in ways that are age appropriate, respectful and empathetic to others, in order to develop trusting relationships.
  • The ability to understand and respond to verbal communication accurately, appropriately and in a timely manner. Verbal communication may be restricted because of the age of the child and/or psychosocial or physical limitations (e.g., childhood developmental stage, trauma, mental health concerns, injury, disease, or congenital conditions).
  • A consistent awareness of their own verbal communication style. Speed and accuracy of communication may be critical for individual safety or treatment.
  • The ability to provide clear instructions in the context of the situation. Close listening and accurate empathic reflection of what is heard are fundamental to the establishment and conduct within effective therapeutic relationships and alliances in play therapy. Ability to listen with empathy to children and their parents and accurately reflect to them.
  • The ability to provide timely clear feedback and reporting by responding verbally in sessions with child clients in the play therapy placement setting. Participation in tutorial and clinical supervision discussions.


Students will need adequate visual acuity and perception skills to provide safe and effective play therapy. Effective recognition and understanding of, and response to, visual communication is a fundamental requirement of the play therapy profession. Visual communication needs to be respectful, clear, attentive, empathic and non-judgemental.

Students will demonstrate sufficient visual acuity and perception to perform the required range of skills:

  • The capacity to recognise, interpret and respond appropriately to visual representations and cues.
  • Consistent and appropriate awareness of own visual communication style.
  • Sensitivity to individual and/or cultural differences.

Play therapy uses toys and creative play resources including expressive arts and craft media as a primary form of communication between client and play therapist. It includes resources such as dolls and dolls houses, teddy bears, sand and sand tray miniatures, vehicles, animals, vegetation, pretend food, kitchen, puppets and a puppet theatre, messy play resources, clay, playdoh, paper, paints, art and craft, sensory toys, musical instruments, projective and role play dress-up resources and many other creative materials to facilitate visual forms of personal expression that the play therapist facilitates the child to explore.


Students will need adequate auditory ability to provide safe and effective play therapy. Effective recognition and understanding of, and response to, what is communicated through sound is a fundamental requirement of the play therapy profession.

Students will demonstrate sufficient aural function to perform the required range of skills:

  • The capacity to recognise, interpret and respond appropriately to aural representations and cues.
  • Sufficient auditory ability is required in both academic and clinical settings for tasks that need to be delivered by auditory means.
  • Sufficient auditory ability is necessary to monitor, assess and manage child, adult, and family mental health needs consistently and accurately.


Students will need to possess effective non-verbal communication, which is playful, accepting, respectful, empathic, curious, congruent, clear, attentive and non-judgemental.

Students will demonstrate the following:

  • The ability to observe and understand non-verbal cues assists with building rapport with children, young people, and parents/ guardians, gaining trust and respect in academic and professional relationships.
  • Appropriate facial expressions, eye contact, being mindful of personal space, time boundaries and body movements and gestures promotes trust in academic and professional relationships.
  • Sensitivity to individual and/or cultural differences. Being sensitive to individual and/or cultural differences displays respect and empathy to others and develops trusting relationships.
  • The ability to observe and understand non-verbal cues is essential for safe and effective observation of child clients' behaviours and reactions as part of assessment and therapy.


Effective written communication, in English, is a fundamental play therapy student responsibility with professional and legal ramifications. Student must demonstrate the capacity to construct written text-based assessment tasks to reflect the required academic standards are necessary to convey knowledge and understanding of relevant subject matter for professional practice standards. Accurate written communication for a range of purposes and audiences is vital to provide consistent client care.


Students will need need consistent knowledge and effective cognitive skills to undertake safe and competent play therapy practice. The student must appropriately apply knowledge to practice during play therapy placements, for example through assessments, treatment plans and then conducting individual play therapy sessions for children at various ages and stages of development.

Competent literacy skills are essential to provide safe and effective play therapy practice. Conveying a spoken message accurately and effectively in a play therapy clinical placement setting. Paraphrasing, summarising, and referencing in accordance with the appropriate academic and/or professional practice conventions. Producing accurate, concise, and clear documentation while on placement in the clinical placement which meets legal and professional requirements.

Play skills and clinical practice

Competent therapeutic play skills are essential to provide safe and effective interventions. Students are required to demonstrate the ability to playfully engage child clients in imaginary or symbolic play. They will have the ability to safely deliver a range of therapeutic powers of play and play therapy modalities (Integrating Humanistic, Systemic and Emerging models) relevant play therapy techniques and clinical practices. They will monitor change processes over the course of a play therapy intervention and have the capacity to develop and maintain one's own reflective practice within a chosen medium, style and/or or context.

Relational skills

Play therapy practice requires the ability to make and maintain strong therapeutic relationships with a wide range of clients, often under stressful circumstances. Students require the ability to establish and maintain rapport with both individuals and teams in both academic and clinical placement environments and ability to utilise a range of toys and creative resources in a variety of settings that enhances professional interpersonal relationships. They will engage and relate appropriately in individual and group clinical supervision and experiential learning groups, including embodied, projective and role play.

Reflective skills

Play therapy practice requires self-awareness and a capacity for reflection to consider the effect of one's own actions, values, emotions and behaviours. Students will be required to reflect on the child’s symbolic communication through metaphor and an awareness of own responses to hearing or viewing distressing child communications. They will have the ability to reflect constructively on their professional performance, their personal, professional, cultural, and cross-cultural values and potential biases. And an ability to reflect on transference/countertransference experiences.

Sustainable performance

Play therapy practice requires both physical and mental performance at a consistent and sustained level to meet individual and group needs over time. Students will need to concentrate attention on the child’s play and therapeutic interactions throughout an individual or parent facilitated filial session. Students must remain focused and provide consistent responses over a negotiated period during placement (play therapy sessions may take up to one hour of sustained concentration and play interactions).

Play therapy practice also requires both physical strength and mobility (fine and gross motor skills) to perform the physical demands over time and coordinate play interactions. Tasks that involve fine motor skills include being able to grasp, press, push, turn, squeeze, and manipulate various objects. Students must be able to demonstrate and perform gross motor skills which include lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, standing, twisting and bending consistently and safely to reduce the risk of harm to self and others and the ability to instigate and respond to emergency situations.

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