Children Play Therapy Training

George Fox University's Graduate School of Counseling is pleased to be the home of the Northwest Center for Play Therapy Studies (NWCPTS), established in 2003. Under the direction of Dr. Daniel Sweeney, the NWCPTS is the largest university-based center focused on the study and promotion of play therapy in the Pacific Northwest.


The mission of the Northwest Center for Play Therapy Studies is to promote the healthy development and welfare of children and families through the process of play and filial therapy. In support of the relational, psychological and spiritual wholeness of children and families, the center seeks to fulfill this objective through the provision of play therapy training, supervision and learning resources for students and mental health professionals in the community.


The center's primary focus is the provision of high-quality play therapy training. This is accomplished through graduate courses at George Fox University and sponsored workshops. It hosts graduate courses in play therapy, filial therapy, sandtray therapy, and special topics courses (e.g., group play therapy).


The NWCPTS also sponsors two annual events: a five-day Summer Institute in June and a one-day Fall Conference in November. These cover a wide variety of play therapy topics, including introductory and advanced workshops on such topics as sandtray therapy, play therapy with traumatized children, art in play therapy, and neurobiological issues in the play therapy process.

These workshops have attracted presenters and participants from across the nation. Some of the internationally acclaimed presenters brought in by the NWCPTS include:

  • Dr. Garry Landreth
  • Dr. Eliana Gil
  • Dr. John Allan
  • Dr. Terry Kottman
  • Dr. Risë VanFleet
  • Dr. Kevin O'Connor

APT-Approved Center of Play Therapy Education

The Northwest Center for Play Therapy Studies is an Approved Center of Play Therapy Education, as certified by the Association for Play Therapy (APT). The APT has established specific objectives for approved centers, including:

  1. Fostering and acknowledging the establishment of approved centers at institutions of higher education offering master’s or doctoral mental health degrees in a manner that enhances the credibility of play therapy
  2. Generate more play therapy instruction, supervised clinical experience, supervisor training, and faculty members with play therapy expertise and RPT/S credentials
  3. Generate more original play therapy specific research, especially research advancing evidence-based play therapy practice, and the publication of such in professional peer-reviewed publications within and outside of the play therapy community
  4. Contribute to the advancement of play therapy and growth of the play therapy community

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George Fox University's Graduate School of Counseling offers Masters degrees and Certificates in counseling.

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