Play Therapy

Graduate Certificate Program


Play therapy has a long tradition as a key therapeutic technique, especially with children. The Play Therapy Certificate is designed to provide to students in the mental health professions with the foundational knowledge of the role of play as a therapeutic technique within a human development and family framework. This certificate has been structured such that those in mental health fields can gain specialized training in play therapy along with critical coursework to support that training. Students may be able to use part of the required coursework in this certificate as part of the process to become a certified play therapist. 

Target Audience

The target audience for this certificate program includes (a) graduate students who are currently enrolled in an academic program specific to the mental health field (e.g., clinical psychology, counseling psychology, professional counseling, clinical social work, psychiatry, or couple and family therapy) and would like additional training specific to the practice of play therapy, and (b) professionals who are already licensed in a mental health profession and would like to gain specialized training. Those who do not meet these qualifications are encouraged to consider our couple and family therapy master's program, through which this and the family financial therapy certificates can be earned as part of the master's degree program.

Online versus Face-to-Face

Dual-modality instruction is employed, which allows students to complete this certificate online or face-to-face. All the students enrolled in the certificate will take classes together synchronously, with online students remotely joining students the face-to-face students in the classroom. Instruction will take place in a classroom specifically equipped with the technology necessary to ensure that all students—online and face-to-face—will have a similarly engaging experience, both with the instructor and with one another. This provides opportunities for the online students to work with each other as well as students within the classroom, and ensures that both online and face-to-face students receive the same training.


The 12-credit-hour curriculum was designed to provide students a deeper understanding of family dynamics, couple and family therapy, family financial theory, and how to blend these fields together in the form of family financial therapy.

1. Three required courses:

    • FAM 686: Theory and Methods in Couple and Family Therapy
    • FAM 658: Adolescent Development
    • FAM 745: Family and Children in Play Therapy

2. One elective course (choose one of the following):

    • EDP 600: Life Span Development [not available to fully-online students]
    • IEC 659: Advanced Child Development
    • FAM 601: Family Processes
    • FAM 652: Readings in Family Theory and Research
    • FAM 654: Life Course Theory


If starting in the Fall semester of an even-numbered year (e.g., Fall 2024), the certificate can be completed in as few as two semesters (or more slowly, if preferred). The anticipated upcoming offerings of the certificate courses is as follows (required courses in black bold, optional courses from which you must choose one in gray italics):

Fall 2023
FAM 686
FAM 652
FAM 654
Spring 2024
EDP 600

Fall 2024
FAM 658
FAM 686
FAM 601
FAM 654
IEC 659

Spring 2025
FAM 745
EDP 600


Generally speaking, the cost is roughly $2,250 per course x 4 courses = $9,000 for the certificate. Please see for current tuition rates.


Dr. Nate Wood ( advises all play therapy certificate students and will be happy to answer your questions via email.

Ready to Apply?

You will need:

  • Curriculum vitae
  • Personal statement that addresses:
    • what led you to consider pursing this additional training at the University of Kentucky.
    • your educational/professional goals
    • how this certificate fits into your career and/or practice goals
  • A writing sample that you believe is representative of graduate level work
  • A copy of your clinical license/permit

Submit an application to the Graduate School. The application deadline to start Fall 2023 is July 21, 2023. If only seeking the certificate (i.e., not a master's or doctoral degree) then apply as a post-baccalaureate student. Current UK graduate students do not have to pay the application fee. Successful program applicants must:

  • be either licensed mental-health professional or be actively working toward a master's or doctorate in a mental health specialization
  • have a minimum 3.0 GPA on all previous graduate-level courses

Note: Some (but not all) courses in the play therapy curriculum can be taken prior to formal admission into the program.