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Find a Play Therapist

Use the Association for Play Therapy's 'Find a Play Therapist' directory to locate qualified play therapists in your area.

APT Find a Play Therapist Directory
  • Registered Play Therapist (RPT)
  • Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor (RPT-S)
  • School Based-RPT (SB-RPT)

Play Therapy isn’t Just Play

Play Therapy is not the same as a regular, everyday play. While the spontaneous play is a natural and essential part of the developmental process, Play Therapy is a systematic and therapeutic approach.  Play Therapists are licensed mental health professionals with extensive training, supervision, and education in Play Therapy. Play Therapy incorporates a growing number of evidence-based practices and techniques (SAMSHA, 2014), and should only be utilized by specially trained mental health professionals.

While some Play Therapists do not possess a specialized Play Therapy credential, a Registered Play Therapist (RPT), Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor (RPT-S), or School Based-Registered Play Therapist (SB-RPT) are those professionals who have met the stringent standards set by APT to become a credentialed Play Therapist. Ask to see the Play Therapist's certificate that he or she meets the requirements and is in good standing with the Association for Play Therapy.

Other professionals who work with children/adolescents and incorporate toys into their work, but are not trained Play Therapists, should not represent themselves as such.


Why Play Therapy?

APT defines play therapy as "the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development."

More simply put, child play therapy is a way of being with the child that honors their unique developmental level and looks for ways of helping in the “language” of the child – play.  Licensed mental health professionals therapeutically use play to help their clients, most often children ages three to 12 years, to better express themselves and resolve their problems.

Play Therapy works best when a safe relationship is created between the therapist and client, one in which the latter may freely and naturally express both what pleases and bothers them.

Mental health agencies, schools, hospitals, and private practitioners have utilized Play Therapy as a primary intervention or as supportive therapy for:

  • Behavioral problems, such as anger management, grief and loss, divorce and abandonment, and crisis and trauma.
  • Behavioral disorders, such as anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), autism or pervasive developmental, academic and social developmental, physical and learning disabilities, and conduct disorders. 

Research suggests Play Therapy is an effective mental health approach, regardless of age, gender, or the nature of the problem, and works best when a parent, family member, or caretaker is actively involved in the treatment process.