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2 Ways to Become a Play Therapist

So you want to become a play therapist, but you’re not so sure how to get there. Let me tell you, I’ve been there. Becoming a play therapist can be a confusing journey, but luckily I’m here to help navigate!

In this post I’m going to be talking about two credentials to become a play therapist, the Child-Centered Play Therapist (CCPT) credential and the Registered Play Therapist (RPT) credential, both of which I am working towards right now!


Child-Centered Play Therapist (CCPT) 

The CCPT credential is through NIRE, the National Institute of Relationship Enhancement. The CCPT credential communicates to people that you are trained with the theoretical underpinning of Child-Centered Play Therapy. To obtain the credential, you have to take an Introduction to Play Therapy course or training and be supervised for 26 tapes focusing specifically on child-centered play therapy. There is a $75 application fee for the Certification and supervision generally costs between $50 and $100 per hour. There is additionally the cost of the Introduction to Play Therapy Course, which can range from $200 to $1000.


  • The CCPT credential can be earned while working towards your degree and even on the way to becoming an RPT.
  • The credential focuses on Child-Centered Play Therapy, truly making you an expert in the theory of Child-Centered Play Therapy
  • You receive CCPT specific supervision to improve your skills and case conceptualization.
  • Through NIRE, you can choose your own supervisor or even have one provided to you. This can relieve some anxiety if you’re not sure how to find your own play therapy supervisor.
  • You can go your own speed. There is no rush in completing the certification. I know some people who have completed the certification within a year and some who have completed it in four years. It is up to you and your supervisor to determine how fast or slow you want to move through the process.


  • Although the CCPT credential is wonderful, it is not as recognized as other credentials in the field
  • The certification has a complete focus on CCPT. If you are interested in other theories in relation to play therapy, this certification may not be the best for you.
  • The process is very time consuming. You have to put in time to watch and take notes on each tape, have supervision, and additionally continue having sessions in order to have more tapes. And remember to rinse and repeat 26 times!
  • Like any certification, cost is a large factor for many people. A trick to getting around that is by being supervised by an individual that is working towards their CCPT-S (NIRE’s play therapy supervision credential). This can save you about 50% in supervision costs while still receiving amazing supervision! In addition, Introduction to Play Therapy trainings tend to be less expensive and time consuming in comparison to courses offered by universities, saving you another pretty penny!


Registered Play Therapist (RPT) 

The RPT credential is through the Association for Play Therapy . The RPT credential communicates to others that you are a play therapist. The credential does not specify if the play therapist practices with a specific theory. In order to become an RPT, you need to have a state license to provide mental health services, a master’s degree or higher, 2,000 hours clinical experience, 150 hours of play therapy specific training, 500 hours of direct play therapy specific experience in addition to 50 hours of play therapy specific supervision.


  • The RPT credential is the most recognized play therapy credential in the field.
  • The credential allows the therapist to practice within any theory. When applying for the credential, it is preferred that the applicant have trainings in at least two play therapy theories.
  • The 150 hours of play therapy specific training can be tailored to your specific interests in play therapy. You can learn about Sandtray Therapy, Play Therapy with Adolescents, Family Play Therapy, and more on your way to the RPT credential!
  • Supervision doesn’t have to occur under another play therapist. If your supervisor is a non-RPT-S, you have to work towards 500 hours of direct play therapy specific experience and 50 hours of play therapy specific supervision. However, if you supervisor is an RPT-S, you only have to work towards 335 hours of direct play therapy specific experience and 35 hours of play therapy specific supervision.
  • Supervisors only have to observe one play therapy session of the RPT applicant.


  • There is no specific theory associated with the RPT credential. This can be confusing for professionals and clients alike when interacting with RPT’s.
  • There is a lack of play therapy specific supervision within the RPT. Although APT does require 35-50 hours of play therapy specific supervision, it does not need to be with a credentialed play therapist. APT additionally requires only one observed play therapy session, as compared to NIRE’s 26.
  • Similar to NIRE, the RPT process can be very time consuming. It takes a substantial amount of time to not only find but attend 150 hours worth of play therapy trainings in addition to 335-550 hours of play therapy experience and 35-50 hours of play therapy supervision.
  • Another similarity to the CCPT process is that it can be costly obtaining the RPT credentials. 150 hours of play therapy specific training can really add up! I personally recommend taking trainings when you are still a student. Many trainings offer a student discount, so take advantage while you can!


As you can see above, there are many pro’s and con’s to both the CCPT and RPT credentials and the journey to the credentials. I personally am working towards both the CCPT and RPT. I see the benefit in both and how they will help my career in the near future.

Let me know if there are any pro’s and con’s that I missed or any questions you have about becoming a CCPT or and RPT. In the meantime, PLAY ON!



3 thoughts on “2 Ways to Become a Play Therapist

  1. Thank you so much for the information. I live in Peru, and I’m still looking for a institution that certified play therapy because isn’t common here. Hopefully I’ll find it soon.


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