1. What are the benefits of becoming a Registered Play Therapist?
There are many benefits of play therapy! First and foremost, play therapy meets children where they are at developmentally and therefore is beneficial for children, adolescents, and families with a myriad of diagnostic challenges and presentations. It is a very comprehensive modality that is becoming a prominent therapy throughout the nation. Further, a RPT or RPT-S credential conveys your play therapy knowledge and experience to the general public, and lends credibility and visibility to your specialized training. It also provides you with a community of like-minded professionals who believe in the therapeutic power of play.
2. What are the requirements to become a Registered Play Therapist (RPT) (APT website, 2017)?
a. License – Current and active individual state license to independently provide clinical mental health services.
b. Educational Degrees – Master’s or higher mental health degree with demonstrated coursework in child development, theories of personality, principles of psychotherapy, and child & adolescent psychopathology, and ethics.
c. Clinical Experience – General clinical experience required by state licensure roughly equivalent to 2 years and 2,000 hours of general mental health clinical experience.
d. Play Therapy Training – 150 hours of play therapy specific instruction from institutions of higher education or APT- approved providers (limit 50 non-contact hours). See more under question #6.
f. Supervised Play Therapy Experience & Supervision – 500 hours of supervised play therapy specific experience plus 50 hours of concurrent play therapy specific supervision. Click here for a list of Registered Play Therapist-Supervisors in our state.
*Please be advised that your supervision hours can be through a licensed supervisor that is not a RPT-S. If receiving supervision from a RPT-S, however, your hour requirement is 350 experience and 35 supervision hours.
**Please note that starting in 2020, all supervision hours must be through a RPT-S, with a minimum of 350 experience and 35 supervision hours. Hours accrued prior to January 1st, 2020 by a non RPT-S will be accepted.
g. Supervisor Training – None (unless becoming a RPT-S)
h. Renewal Criteria – Renew annually 12 months after approval. Annual: Current and active individual license to independently provide clinical mental health services. CE Cycle: 18 hours of play therapy specific instruction from institutions of higher education or APT-approved providers every 36 months.
3. I am still a graduate student, can I start working towards my RPT credential?
Yes!! You can start counting APT approved continuing education (towards the needed 150 hours) before you graduate. Join WAAPT, attend the conferences, and members-only free CE networking events. Further, since play therapy is a specialized area, students should consider having the five core content areas of child development, theories of personality, principles of psychotherapy, psychopathology – aka DSM training, and ethics under their belt before taking play therapy foundational courses.
Upon completion of a play therapy foundations course/training and under the supervision of an experienced play therapist, students may begin to accrue their supervised experience and supervision in play therapy. Click here for a list of Registered Play Therapist-Supervisors in our state.
4. Who can call themselves Play Therapists?
According to the Association for Play Therapy (a4pt.org), Play Therapists are licensed professionals with extensive training, supervision, and education in Play Therapy. A Registered Play Therapist (RPT), Registered Play Therapist Supervisor (RPT-S), and School Based-Registered Play Therapist (SB-RPT) are those who have met APT's stringent criteria (see above) to become credentialed.
Although the terms, “play therapy” and “play therapist,” are not protected or restricted terms, when a licensed mental health practitioner uses them, they must be prepared to defend their “competency” in this specialty to a court of law and/or their respective licensing board. Having an APT credential serves as a wonderful source of “vetting” in the field of play therapy.
5. What about School Based Therapists?
In January of 2016, APT launched its new credential, the School Based-Registered Play Therapist (SBRPT). The SB-RPT credential is intended for professionals who hold a current and active individual state license or certificate from their state’s department of education to independently practice as a school counselor or school psychologist. Applicants licensed by their state mental health board (i.e. LPC, LCSW, LMFT, etc) are ineligible for the SB-RPT, but may be eligible for the Registered Play Therapist™ (RPT) or Registered Play Therapist-SupervisorTM (RPT-S) credentials. Registrants may not hold more than one APT credential at any given time.
6. How and where can I accrue the necessary 150 APT approved education hours?
Attend the WAAPT conferences, typically held in Spring (two days) and Fall (1 day). Also, for members only, you can receive CEs by attending our every other month networking meetings.
Also, the Association for Play Therapy hosts an annual national conference with the biggest names in Play Therapy. This is typically the second week of October, and is a great way to get up to 35 hours of APT Approved credits and meet play therapists across the country!
Other training options in and around WA state include:
* As the RPT Designation is approved nationally, your play therapy training can be from any approved workshop in the United States, or university that is an APT approved site,(it must have an “APT Approved Provider Number” to count towards the RPT).
Antioch University, Seattle, Play Therapy Certificate Program - This program is APT-Approved and conducted in a University setting, students (graduate or post-graduate) can earn their CE hours faster than attending conferences/workshops to meet the 150 hours of play therapy specific education. Applications accepted yearly in April.
Northwest Center for Play Therapy Studies, George Fox – Hosts a summer institute and a November conference.
7. Where can I learn more information about Play Therapy and becoming a RPT?