By Emily Hanlon
Earlier this year, I completed an online course through Play Therapy Online Training. It was a certified course that I completed as part of my ongoing professional development in 2019. After reading ‘Dibs in Search of Self’ and ‘Play Therapy,’ both by Virginia M Axline, I was more intrigued than ever about play therapy and wanted to learn more! (Side note: if you have not read these books, do yourself a favour and read them! Beyond amazing! Pictured in this post.) I didn’t want to commit to the full training, as I still felt as though I needed more information about what play therapy actually entails. In that regard, this course was perfect! I’m going to review the course below and end with a list of pro’s and con’s to help you guys decide whether this course may be right for you!
There are three workshops that you can purchase through this platform. I chose to pay $279.00 Australian to complete all three, which, when I compared it to other organisations, was an extremely competitive price. Each workshop includes a mix of audio material, video material, printable handouts, and articles. At the end of each lesson, there is a short (and simple) quiz that you need to get 80% on in order to move to the next lesson. In my opinion, if you have been listening, the quizzes are an absolute breeze and are nothing to worry about! When you purchase all three workshops, you are given 6 months to complete the course. I worked through 1-2 lessons a week and ended up finishing it in 4 months, so it is extremely doable. You are always able to call them and let them know if you have extenuating circumstances and need additional time.
Workshop 1: The Healing World of Child Cantered Play Therapy was a great introduction to play therapy and had great learning objectives, as follows:
Demonstrate an understanding of the Child Centered Play Therapy theory, philosophy and practices
Identify who Child Centered Play Therapy is and is not recommended for and the different types of play we see in Play Therapy
Explain the importance of the therapeutic relationship in the Child Centered Play Therapy approach
Identify the categories and range of toys and materials that are recommended in Child Centered Play Therapy
Describe how to set up a therapeutic playroom and how to adapt spaces for Play Therapy sessions
Outline the stages in Child Centered Play Therapy and identify some of the recommended ways to respond to, and be with children in the different stages
In workshop one, you learn about the play therapy room and ideal set ups for this space as well as the stages of play therapy. You are also offered case presentations which I personally found very interesting.
Workshop 2: Play Therapy Skills and Practices Workshop two was more about what play therapy actually entails. This was probably my favourite workshop of the three. I felt as though in the research that I had done prior to these workshops, I had already come across much of the information in workshop 1, so workshop 2 was really when I started to learn! The learning objectives for workshop 2 are as follows:
Identify Child Centered Play Therapy skills including tracking, empathic responses, returning responsibility to the child, facilitating self expression, engaging in role plays
Outline the steps of the ACT Limit Setting model in Play Therapy
Identify ways of responding to children in challenging situations in Play Therapy
Identify the relevance of play behaviours and themes in Play Therapy sessions
Demonstrate an understanding of the skills, philosophy and practices of Child Centered Play Therapy
Explain how working with children in Play Therapy is different to working with adults in counselling
Outline the key areas for consideration in the Play Therapy Intake Interview and assessment processIdentify the role of parents as partners in the Play Therapy process and important considerations
Workshop two really emphasised the importance of both freedom and structure in the play therapy process and how to balance these two, seemingly conflicting concepts. I also learnt about how to respond in empathetic ways to things children may say in the playroom, and to be honest I’ve used some of these tips and tricks in my work as a psychologist since learning about them. They are extremely effective. What I found most interesting in this workshop, was how to limit set using a specific model and also the importance of play behaviours and themes that may take place in the play space. It was quite interesting. This workshop also discusses the initial parent interview, initial assessment, and how to engage parents in the process. All in all, extremely informative.
Workshop 3: Play Therapy Special Topics. I struggled with this workshop. It’s not that it wasn’t interesting, it was that it included a lot of information about the REACH project in Tennessee and their model in a school system. At this point I would have loved to keep learning more strategies about play therapy. The learning objectives for workshop three were as follows:
Outline the key factors in the REACH Project and identify the benefits of Child Centered Play Therapy in this programDescribe some of the challenges that can present in offering Play Therapy in schools
Identify the healing power of Child Centered Play Therapy for children from highly at risk backgroundsDescribe why Child Centered Play Therapy can be valuable for children on the Autism SpectrumIdentify important considerations in working in Play Therapy with children on the Autism Spectrum
Identify key ethical considerations and issues in working with children and parents in Play Therapy
One thing I thoroughly enjoyed about workshop 3 was learning how to engage children on the autism spectrum in child centered play therapy. I found it so fascinating and was really interested as if I ever became a certified play therapist, this would be my clientele.
All in all, I enjoyed this course and I am extremely glad I took part in it. To summarise:
Con’s: it is a lot of work to do in front of a computer, you have to go on to do a certified play therapy course in order to call yourself a play therapist. Towards the end, I found myself getting easily distracted and would have to replay sections a few times.
Pro’s: extremely competitive pricing, you have 6 months to complete the course and can break it up however you like, it is interesting and informative, and you can choose to take away from it as much or as little as you want.
I learnt a lot about play therapy. I also learnt that my current workplace is not appropriate for play therapy (in my personal opinion; although as you will learn in the workshop, you can really try to make any space work). I am however extremely interested at looking at this more in the future!
To register for this course or individual workshops, see the link below: https://www.playtherapyonlinetraining.com/register-for-training.html