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Graduate Play Therapy Coursework

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Play therapy is a specialized set of knowledge, skills, and attitudes for working with children. Through play therapy, children are offered a safe and trusting environment to address emotional, behavioral, and cognitive difficulties in a developmentally appropriate manner. Garry Landreth said, “play is children’s language and toys are their words.” Play therapists are mental health professionals who are often employed in mental health agencies, schools, hospitals, and private practices. Play therapy can help children with feelings, grief and loss, divorce, crisis and trauma, depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity, autism, academic and social developmental delays, physical and learning disabilities, and conduct disorders.

The Association for Play Therapy (APT) – confers Registered Play Therapist (RPT) or School-Based Registered Play Therapist (SB-RPT) credentials to assist the public in recognizing those who have specialized training and supervision in the practice of play therapy.

South Dakota State University is excited to offer 7 graduate credits (equal to more than the required 150 training hours) as partial requirement towards becoming a Registered Play Therapist (RPT) or School-Based Registered Play Therapist (SB-RPT).

In addition to the 150 education hours, APT requires that an individual obtain:

  • An independent license to practice mental health counseling or school counseling
  • A Master’s or higher mental health degree with demonstrated coursework in child development, theories of personality, principles of psychotherapy, child & adolescent psychopathology, and ethics
  • Supervised experience in practice
  • Direct client/student contact hours under supervision of a Registered Play Therapy Supervisor (RPT-S)

Visit the APT website for additional information on the credentials and a list of current supervisors.

SDSU’s play therapy courses are offered once per year and are completed in sequential order:

Course Information

Course #CourseCreditsDescription

CHRD 706

History & Theoretical Models of Play Therapy


The evolution of the field of play therapy is explored. Major theoretical approaches of play therapy explored as well as nature of theory related to techniques, assessment and treatment. Designed for those who have completed a theory course in their respective degree area.

CHRD 707

Play Therapy Skills & Techniques


Play materials and tools are introduced. The counseling relationship, skills and utilization of play media to facilitate expression, self-understanding and personal growth/development. Observation of and supervised experience in play therapy is a part of this course. Prerequisite—CHRD 706

CHRD 708

Filial & Family Play Therapy


This course focuses on working with and training parents and caregivers to be therapeutic agents in their children’s lives through the utilization of play therapy skills in parent-child structured play sessions. Prerequisite—CHRD 706, 707

CHRD 709

Applications of Play Therapy


Students are required to demonstrate proficiency in play therapy principles and practices. Students engage in advanced study of play therapy, including theories, application of skills, parent consultation. Group play therapy will be examined and practiced. Prerequisite – CHRD 706, 707