Foundations of Play Therapy

Pam Davis
Instructor: Pam Davis
Code: CO713
Section: CA
Mode: Live
Location: Charlotte
Schedule: Tues-Fri 9:00am-4:00pm
Dates: 05/25 - 05/28
Prerequisites: One of the following: CO500, CO502 or CO540


This course is available (for credit) to professionals not currently enrolled as Gordon-Conwell students who have already completed a Master’s Degree in counseling. To apply, please use our application for Special Non-Degree Students & Auditors. Please ignore the instructions to submit your bachelor’s degree transcript. Instead, only submit your master’s degree transcripts.



This course provides an overview of the essential elements and principles of play therapy, including history, theories, modalities, techniques, applications, and skills. A theological foundation for engaging children through play will be emphasized, along with an experiential component focused on basic play therapy skill development within the context of ethical and diversity-sensitive practice.


This course serves the following institutional learning objectives:

  • To train and encourage students, in cooperation with the Church, to become skilled in ministry.[Article 3]


    1. Articulate a basic understanding of the theology of play.
    2. Compare and contrast essential people, theorists and organizations that shaped the history of the profession of play therapy.
    3. Compare and contrast the most widely accepted theoretical models of play therapy and the formats in which they are most commonly offered (individual, group, family, etc.).
    4. Identify developmentally appropriate play therapy toys and materials that can be incorporated into either a permanent or traveling playroom for the purposes of both assessment and treatment.
    5. Conceptualize a client’s presenting clinical problem(s) developmentally and theoretically.
    6. Demonstrate an understanding of the role of the play therapist and play therapy in the context of the client’s broader clinical (medical/psychiatric treatment) and non-clinical system (family, school, community).
    7. Identify and differentiate the stages within the play therapy process from intake to termination.
    8. 8.Examine and discuss key elements in a play therapy relationship.
    9. Demonstrate basic play therapy skills (with non-clinical volunteers) including (but not limited to) structuring, tracking, reflection of content and process, returning responsibility, facilitating self-advocacy, and limit setting.
    10. Compare and contrast the legal and ethical issues that are unique to play therapy and those shared with other modalities, i.e., documentation, competence, informed consent, confidentiality, boundaries and duty to warn and protect, use of touch. (visit for recent Paper on TouchandPlay Therapy Best Practices.)
    11. Identify and recognize the evolving body of qualitative and quantitative play therapy research.
    12. Analyze issues of diversity and how they impact on every facet of play therapy, from choice of materials to the relationship with the client.
    13. Gain knowledge of the minimal training/supervision guidelines and play therapy best practices promulgated by the Association for Play Therapy.


This intensive course integrates both live and digital instructional methods. Live, in-person instruction from May 25 – 28, 2021 (9 am – 4:30 pm), will include lecture, group discussions, viewing of instructional videos, live play therapy demonstrations, and experiential play activities. Online instructional methods will include weekly lessons, discussion boards (via Canvas) and supervision sessions. Students should plan to interact weekly with the material, with each other, and with the instructor through online classroom discussions, reading, and other assignments that promote active learning.


You don’t need to be enrolled in a degree program to take this course (for credit or personal enrichment). Learn More »