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Play therapist

Play therapists help children to make sense of difficult life experiences, or complex psychological issues through play.

Annual Salary

£24,000 to £38,000

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

35 to 37 variable

You could work: evenings; attending events or appointments

Future employment

There will be 3.8% more Play therapist jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

In this role you could:

  • work closely with parents, carers and other professionals
  • assess a child's needs and decide on a suitable course of action
  • run sessions for individuals or groups, using creative arts and storytelling
  • monitor and record children's progress
  • take part in regular supervision sessions with a more experienced therapist

Working environment

You could work at a client's home, at a children's care home, at a health centre or at a school.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship

You'll need to complete a degree followed by a postgraduate qualification approved by the British Association of Play Therapists or Play Therapy UK.

Your undergraduate degree should be in a related subject like:psychology; early childhood studies; mental health nursing; social work; education

You'll also need experience of working with children in professions like teaching, nursing, counselling, therapy or social work.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
For more information

You could do a Play Therapist Level 7 Higher Apprenticeship.

This typically takes 3 years to complete.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • experience in related work
  • a degree in a relevant subject
For more information

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

Career tips

If you have an interest in play therapy and work in a profession like teaching, nursing, counselling or social work you may be able to take an introductory course to find out more about it.

Further information

You can get more advice about careers in play therapy from the British Association of Play Therapists and Play Therapy UK.

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With experience and further training, you could:supervise less experienced therapists; provide a consultation service to professionals in the community; move into training, lecturing or clinical supervision

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • sensitivity and understanding
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to understand people’s reactions
  • knowledge of psychology
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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