How to Become a Registered Play Therapist in 2024

– Checklist & Guide –

In this guide, we will outline the qualifications needed to become a Registered Play Therapist™ and provide you with the tools to track your progress as you work towards obtaining your certification.

Let’s get started!

How to Become a Registered Play Therapist

Play therapy is a form of counseling that is used to help children deal with emotions and behavioral issues. It is a fun and interactive way for children to express themselves, learn about their feelings, and develop new skills.

In this guide, we will outline the qualifications needed to become a Registered Play Therapist™ and provide you with the tools to track your progress as you work towards obtaining your certification.


Requirements Before Starting the RPT™ Program

Before starting the program to become a Registered Play Therapist™, there are essential criteria you must meet.

You must first complete a master’s degree in counseling, psychology, psychiatry, marriage and family therapy, or social work from an accredited institution.

There are 5 major areas of study that the Association for Play Therapy requires in your transcripts for your credentialing application:

  1. Child Development
  2. Theories of Personality
  3. Principles of Psychotherapy
  4. Child and AdolescentPsychopathology
  5. Legal, Ethical, and Professional Issues

Along with the courses listed above, you must also have a current and active state license to provide clinical mental health services in either counseling, marriage and family therapy, psychiatry, psychology, or social work.

APT Requirements

Download our FREE Registered Play Therapist™ CE Tracker here!

Registered Play Therapist CE Tracker

Registered Play Therapist™ Program Phases

The Association for Play Therapy uses a 3-phase approach for completing the credentialing process.

According to APT:

“The three-phase approach permits the applicant to adequately absorb and synthesize play therapy instruction obtained into their supervised play therapy experience at a more manageable pace.


To obtain competency, assessment of the supervisee’s play therapy knowledge and skills is essential. Therefore, applicants are encouraged to share with their supervisor attendance certificates or graduate transcripts for play therapy instruction received while under supervision. This interchange helps inform the supervisory process and aids in the integration of the acquired knowledge through demonstrated practice.

Attendees are encouraged to seek play therapy-specific education which supports and integrates material related to APT’s core competencies.”

Detailed below, you’ll see how the total hours for PT Instruction, Supervised PT, and PT Supervision are broken down for each phase of the process.

The hours listed under each phase must be completed before you can move on to the next.

Phase 1:

  • Play Therapy Instruction – 35-55 hours
  • Supervised Play Therapy – 50-75 hours
  • Play Therapy Supervision – 5-10 hours

Phase 2:

  • Play Therapy Instruction – 55-70 hours
  • Supervised Play Therapy – 100-150 hours
  • Play Therapy Supervision – 10-15 hours

Phase 3:

  • Play Therapy Instruction – 45-60 hours
  • Supervised Play Therapy – 100-175 hours
  • Play Therapy Supervision – 10-20 hours
APT Phases

Download the FREE Step-By-Step Guide & Checklist!

How to Become a Registered Play Therapist Checklist

Registered Play Therapist™ Program Sections

​Once you have obtained your degree, you will need to complete over 500 hours of play therapy instruction and experience broken down into three different sections:


  • Play Therapy Instruction
  • Supervised Play Therapy Experience
  • Play Therapy Supervision

Here, we’ll detail the courses and hours required to complete each phase of each section, either through previously completed graduate coursework or through continuing education based on APT’s regulations.


Section 1: Play Therapy Instruction

Direct instruction classes are usually led by teachers or instructors and usually involves a more traditional in-person and/or online traditional classroom setting.

You’ll need a total of at least 150 hours of direct instruction to complete this section.

Primary Areas:

  • Play Therapy History – 5 Hours
  • Play Therapy Seminal or Historically Significant Theories – 55 Hours
  • Play Therapy Skills and Methods – 50 Hours
  • Play Therapy Special Topics – 25 Hours
  • Play Therapy Cultural and Social Diversity Topics – 6 Hours
  • Applicant’s Choice – 9 Hours

Download our FREE Registered Play Therapist™ CE Tracker here!

Registered Play Therapist CE Tracker

Section 2: Supervised Play Therapy Experience

Next, you’ll move to a more hands-on approach to Play Therapy.

During the Supervised Play Therapy Experience you’ll be:

  • Supervised by an RPT-S.
  • Having direct contact with clients to demonstrate your play therapy knowledge.

To complete this section, you’ll need a minimum of 350 direct client contact hours.

Supervised Play Therapy Experience

  • Direct Client Contact Hours – 350 hours
Supervised Play Therapy Requirements

Section 3: Play Therapy Supervision

According to APT, you must hold the RPT-S credential and must also be recognized by your licensing board as eligible to supervise in order to provide play therapy supervision.

Supervision can include:

  • Individual sessions
  • Group sessions
  • In-person sessions
  • Non-contact sessions

You’ll need to complete 35 hours of supervision and 5 session observations to complete this section.

Play Therapy Supervision

  • Play Therapy Supervision – 35 hours
  • Required Session Observations – 5 sessions
Play Therapy Supervision Requirements

Submit Your Application to Become a Registered Play Therapist™

Once all required sections and phases have been completed, it’s time to gather all of your documentation, and submit your application.

You’ll need to following:

  1. Graduate Transcripts
  2. Current & Active State License
  3. Completed and signed Criteria Verification Form(s)
  4. Application Fee(s)


In order to submit your application, you’ll also need to pay your application fee. Also, be aware that you’ll need to renew your application yearly along with a renewal fee*

Application Fee:

  • APT Member – $140.00
  • Non-Member – $270.00

Renewal Fee:

  • APT Member – $60.00
  • Non-Member – $150.00

*All fees are subject to change per APT’s regulations and guidelines. For a complete list of requirements and fees, please visit APT’s website.

Continuing Education for Registered Play Therpists

One of the final requirements for keeping up your APT certification is ongoing continuing education.

Every 36 months, you’ll need to clock at least 24 hours of Play Therapy CE courses.

  • Continuing Education – 24 hours
  • Play Therapy CE – 22 hours
  • Cultural & Social Diversity – 2 hours

Click here for a list of APT Approved Continuing Education Courses

Best Online Play Therapy Training Websites of 2022


If you have a passion for working with children and want to make a difference in their lives, then becoming a play therapist may be the perfect career for you.

With dedication and hard work, you can achieve your goal and make a positive impact in the lives of children.

Want to track your progress? Click below to get the FREE checklist, How to Become a Registered Play Therapist!

How to Become a Registered Play Therapist Checklist