Queen Margaret University masters the art of child’s play

Queen Margaret University (QMU), in Musselburgh, East Lothian, has joined forces with a children’s charity to offer a Masters degree in Play Therapy.

The new course will help to educate Play Therapists of the future ensuring that children, who have experienced trauma, can benefit from a high quality professional support service.

The MSc Play Therapy, which aims to develop therapists who can work safely and therapeutically with children and families with complex needs, has been developed by staff on the MSc Art Psychotherapy Programme at Queen Margaret University and the charity, With Kids.

Play is a really important part of child development and Play Therapy taps into ways in which children communicate. Children, who have been through trauma, can benefit from Play Therapy as it offers a way of communicating and healing the distress they have been through without relying on verbal communication.

Play Therapy is a recognised profession and currently Play Therapists practice in a range of environments from the NHS to social services and from primary and secondary schools to charities. Play Therapy is successfully used to help people of all ages, not just children, deal with a wide range of emotional and physical conditions. In the UK, the majority of Play Therapists work in health and the voluntary care sectors with a sizeable number working in schools and nurseries.

Gwen Galbraith is programme leader for the new Masters programme and also works with With Kids, which has bases in Glasgow and Edinburgh. She explained: “There has been a lack of specialised training in this sector in Scotland for a number of years. We have consulted widely and interest has been high.

“Play Therapy is a really rewarding career. We have the privilege of working with children, young people and their families at really difficult points in their lives and are witness to the changes and developments that Play Therapy can bring about.”

It is thought the new course, which starts in September 2016, will appeal to professionals who are already working with children or young people, as well as those from a social work, health and education background. Gwen Galbraith said: “It will ideally suit people involved in education, social care, health and voluntary sectors. A first degree, such as occupational therapy, would be helpful but is not essential.”

Dr Jane Burns, Lecturer in Arts Psychotherapy at Queen Margaret University, said: “Certain individual course modules may also be of interest to health, social care and education practitioners  who wish to pursue CPD options in therapeutic play but do not wish to commit to a full masters degree.”

Professor Fiona Coutts, Dean of Health at Queen Margaret University, said: “ QMU prides itself on being socially relevant and responding to the needs of society. We are therefore  delighted to be partnering with With Kids on the development of this new Masters which is the  only Play Therapy training validated by a Scottish University in collaboration with a Scottish charity. We believe that this new course will help to improve the lives of children and their families.”

 

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