Students playing a card game in a play therapy training workshop

Play Therapy Training Program

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Upcoming courses

Principles of Play Therapy

July 19-21, 2019
Friday, 4-9 p.m.
Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
Sunday, 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
Registration Fee: $379
Where: ChildSavers, Richmond

Enroll now for July 19>

Advanced Sand Therapy for Trauma and Grief: Theory, ethics, and best practices for play therapists

July 27, 2019
Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Registration Fee: $225
Where: Childsavers, Richmond

Enroll now for July 27>

Advanced Sand Therapy: Existential meaning in play therapy

July 28, 2019
Sunday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Registration Fee: $225
Where: ChildSavers, Richmond

Enroll now for July 28>

Complete listing>

If you would like to pay for the entire certificate program at once, 
contact us for assistance at:


“It opens a whole new world. It opens a whole new direction--and that’s where the healing truly happens.”

Mia A., Clinician/Therapist--LPC Resident

Mia Anderson

The Power of Play

Explore and learn how to apply the therapeutic power of play to communicate with, and treat clients. Association for Play Therapy Approved Provider Logo

The VCU Office of Continuing and Professional Education (OCPE) is an approved continuing education provider (APT Approved Provider 15-397) by the Association for Play Therapy, Inc.



All VCU play therapy workshops meet the play therapy training requirements for the Registered Play Therapist (RPT), Registered Play Therapist—Supervisor (RPT-S), and School-Based Registered Play Therapist (SB-RPT) credentials. Our workshops meet all guidelines established by the Association for Play Therapy, Inc. in the areas of Play Therapy History, Play Therapy Theories, Play Therapy Techniques and Methods, and Play Therapy Applications.

Already have your RPT, RPT-S or SB-RPT credential? VCU offers play therapy specific instruction that can satisfy the play therapy training renewal requirements. Visit our Advanced Play Therapy page for details.

See the Association for Play Therapy credentialing guides for details on the education, training, experience, and supervision required for your credential application or renewal:

Play Therapy Workshops 

We offer the following core play therapy training workshops:

  • Principles of Play Therapy (25 contact hours)
    In this workshop, you will explore the rationale, philosophy, history, and theoretical models of play therapy. You will explore how to use play therapy with various populations and in several settings to include the play room, school environments and in the community. You will build the basic skills needed to use play therapy effectively and leave with the confidence to immediately begin working with clients using play-based interventions.
  • Games, Activities, and Use of Children’s Literature in Play Therapy (25 contact hours)
    Using play therapy principles, you will explore the use of a directive approach in play therapy. You will develop skills to select and use therapeutic play therapy activities, traditional and therapeutic games, and books. You will use games, activities and children’s books to help children reflect their inner world, enhance healthy development, and strengthen coping skills. In addition, you will learn to engage children in play therapy using creative materials to make puppets, books, and games that address a unique need.
  • Play Therapy Systematic Interventions: Group, Filial and Family (25 contact hours)
    In this workshop, you will develop an understanding and a set of skills to implement systematic interventions with groups and families. You will learn how Filial Play Therapy strengthens the parent-child relationship, simultaneously improves communication between caregivers, and increases overall family functioning. You will gain confidence in working with groups using play therapy interventions and develop an understanding of how to use the power of play to help children increase insight, develop social skills, and strengthen relationships in group settings.
  • Play Therapy and the Expressive Arts: Using Creative Interventions with Adolescents and Adults (25 contact hours)
    Explore the rationale for, philosophy, history, and theory behind use of the expressive arts in play therapy. You will learn the basic skills needed to enter the world of expressive arts (drama, music, art, storytelling, poetry, and movement). You will leave the workshop with the confidence to begin working with clients using expressive arts based interventions. In addition, you will be able use expressive arts with a variety of populations, ages, and in both the play room and other settings.
  • Play Therapy Utilizing Sand Tray and Narrative Techniques (25 contact hours)
    Explore the basics of sand tray work, items needed to set up a sand tray, and the phases of treatment in this interactive workshop. You will learn the rationale, history, and application of sand tray in play therapy through experiential exercises and didactic methods. In addition, you will learn the importance of methods to help children and adolescents tell their stories through sand work with miniatures, psycho drama, and creative narrative techniques. The workshop has a strong emphasis on learning the sand tray process.
  • Healing Trauma and Loss Through Play Therapy (25 contact hours)
    In this workshop, you will gain an understanding of how trauma, grief, and loss impacts children, how play therapy allows children to use the language of play to resolve issues that otherwise may impact development. We will explore the importance of fostering opportunities for verbal and nonverbal ways of expressing trauma, grief, and loss. Through directive, nondirective, expressive arts, and sand tray based play therapy activities, you will learn how to offer children a safe and protected space in the playroom to work through their experiences. At the end of the play therapy workshop, you will feel more confident in using play therapy with children who have experienced trauma, grief, and loss.
  • Visit our Advanced Play Therapy page for details on additional Advanced Play Therapy workshops (6 contact hours each). 

Workshop Facilitators

All workshop facilitators are Registered Play Therapist-Supervisors (RPT-S) with substantive relevant experience in the field.

Tracy Whitaker, LCSW, RPT-S

Tracy Whitaker is a founder of the VCU Play Therapy program and serves as the lead instructor. Previously she served as an assistant professor at VCU Health System Children’s Hospital Virginia Treatment Center for Children. She has over 17 years of clinical experience with children, adolescents, adults, and families. Tracy holds a Master of Social Work degree from Radford University and Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology from Guilford College.

Jan Williamson, LCSW, RPT-S

Jan Williamson is the Clinical Supervisor and a mental health clinician providing trauma-informed mental health services for ChildSavers in Richmond. Previously she worked for the Child Advocacy Center and has also been an adjunct professor for the VCU School of Social Work. She has a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology and a Masters in Clinical Social Work. First licensed as a family therapist, she has over 40 years of experience in the mental health field working with families, adults and children and also has worked internationally with refugee children and families. As a Registered Play Therapist Supervisor, she is on the board of the Virginia Association for Play Therapy and also sits on the Board of the Virginia Association for Infant Mental Health. Two of Jan's areas of expertise include work with sand trays and in Animal Assisted Play Therapy.  

What to Expect

Play Therapy workshops are in a hands-on, experiential format. Workshops include some or all of the following: didactics, discussions, videos, activities/exercises, practice/demonstrations of skills, and role plays/observations.

All creative materials will be provided and are included in your registration fee.

Please bring a notebook and a pen. We recommend investing in a 1" or 2" 3-ring binder with 25-50 sheet protectors. This will be useful for organizing/storing handouts, activity instructions, and your own artwork for future examples.

Bring a refillable water bottle, packed lunch and snacks or enjoy meals at one of the nearby eating establishments.

Dress is casual, comfortable.

Who Should Attend

VCU play therapy workshops are for individuals who are employed and/or pursuing education in the behavioral health or school social work field. This would include licensed clinicians, school social workers, students working toward a master’s degree in social work, counseling, school social work or counseling, or psychology. We welcome resident clinicians who have graduated with a master’s degree and are in supervision toward licensure.

If you have questions about whether the workshops would be beneficial to you, please contact the VCU Office of Continuing and Professional Education at or (804) 828-1322.


We recommend that therapists take the VCU “Principles of Play Therapy” (25 hours) workshop first as the foundation for all the other play therapy training.  This foundation workshop is offered twice per year. After completing the “Principles of Play Therapy” workshop, you are welcome to take the other play therapy workshops in any order. Exceptions may be made if you have had previous workshops or classes that cover the principles of play therapy.


Workshops are held either at the VCU Professional Learning Classroom at the Chesterfield Technical Center (CTC at Hull), 13900 Hull Street in Midlothian, Virginia (Richmond area) or at ChildSavers, 200 N 22nd Street, Richmond, Virginia (Richmond City). There is ample free parking available at both locations.


Additional scheduling and custom training options are available for groups. Please contact Jennifer Sisane at  or (804) 828-1322 for more information.

Cancellation and Refund Policies

You may cancel your registration up until one week prior to the start of the workshop and receive a full refund minus a $35 processing fee. Cancellations must be received via email at After this period, no refunds are given.

In the unlikely event that a workshop is cancelled or postponed due to insufficient enrollments or unforeseen circumstances, the university will fully refund registration fees, but cannot be held responsible for any other expenses, including change or cancellation charges to include but not limited to airlines, hotels, travel agencies, or other organizations.

Transfer Policy

Workshop registrations may be transferred to a different workshop or person if requested in writing via email at by the cancellation deadline on the registration page.  The participant must meet all prerequisites or qualifications required by the program.

Want to find out more? Get in touch.