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BAPT Formation and Structure

History of Play Therapy

In Britain, Play Therapy started to emerge as a new and differing tradition in the 1980’s. If you would like to know more, please read our page about the History of Play Therapy. Initially the Children’s Hour Trust taught professionals the basic techniques of Axline’s Play Therapy used in a multitude of settings.

In parallel, two Dramatherapists started using Play Therapy methods to inform their Dramatherapy practice with children. Sue Jennings (1994) and Ann Cattanach (1993, 1994, 1998) integrated elements of non directive Play Therapy to formulate a British Play Therapy movement. In 1990, the Institute of Dramatherapy started to offer a Certificate and Diploma in Play Therapy.

In 1992, the British Association of Play Therapists (BAPT) was started by a group of professionals studying at the Institute of Dramatherapy. Since then, BAPT has developed the British Play Therapy movement and now accredits a number of training courses in the UK including the Masters level programmes.

Theoretical Basis of Play Therapy

Play Therapy is based upon three critical theoretical principles:


Humans are motivated by an innate tendency to develop constructive and healthy capacities.

This tendency is to actualise each person’s inner potentials, including aspects of creativity, curiosity and the desire to become more effective and autonomous.

The Need for Positive Regard

All people require warmth, respect and acceptance from others, especially from ‘significant others’.

As children grow and develop, this need for positive regard transforms into a secondary, learned need for positive self regard.

Play as Communication

Children use play as their primary medium of communication.

Play is a format for transmitting children’s emotions, thoughts, values and perceptions. It is a medium that is primarily creative.

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How BAPT is run

BAPT is a members-led organisation, and we welcome each and every one of our members to join in with us to shape our future development.  Our members are at the core of every decision we make, and we take great pride in offering a wide range of support to them. 

Formal approval of the title ‘British Association of Play Therapists’ was authorised by the Secretary of State in 2005 when BAPT became a Company Limited by Guarantee (registered number: 5477406)

In 2006 The British Association of Play Therapists was granted Charity Status by the Charities Commission (registered charity number 1115673)

As a registered company BAPT is subject to statutory requirements in law in England and Wales.

As a registered charity BAPT’s governance complies with the requirements of The Charity Commission for England and Wales.

The Charity’s Objectives are:

To relieve the needs of children, young people and adults suffering emotional and behavioural difficulties by promoting the art and science of Play Therapy and promoting high standards in the practice of Play Therapy for the public benefit.

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BAPT Registered Play Therapist® trademarked

In 2021, BAPT took the step of trademarking the title “BAPT Registered Play Therapist®” so you can be sure that your play therapist has been fully trained in Play Therapy, rather than just attending a short workshop or online course.

A BAPT Registered Play Therapist® will have a professional qualification, such as teaching, social work, occupational therapist, or a related degree, plus 5 years’ experience working with children BEFORE being accepted on the rigorous 2–3-year MSc/ MA training, that encompasses the theoretical, practical work with clients under supervision, child observations and personal therapy.

Please click here for information about our training on how to become a BAPT Registered Play Therapist®.

Once qualifying, Therapists on the BAPT register have to keep up with post qualification training, our ethical standards, and present proof of their insurance and DBS to be on our monitored Professional Standards Authority register.

This way you can ensure that you have a fully trained, professional working with you and your family.

International Consortium of Play Therapy Associations (IC-PTA)

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BAPT is one of the six founding National Play Therapy Associations on the Board of the International Consortium of Play Therapy Associations which was inaugurated in October 2022.

This exciting initiative grew out of the desire to support and encourage knowledge, understanding and development of play therapy and therapeutic play worldwide by bringing together existing not for profit play therapy associations, pooling knowledge and expertise and providing an online space for connection and communication.

To find out more, and see how you can contribute, visit their website:

The Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is the decision-making body of BAPT. The Board meets at least four times a year. Members of the Board are elected or co-opted to a term of office lasting for three years by the BAPT membership at the Annual General meeting. Board members may serve a second term of office for three years and a third term of office for a further one year. Board members usually serve a maximum term of seven consecutive years. The BAPT membership elects a Chair to serve for a period of three years. If re-elected on retirement, they may not serve more than five consecutive years.

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Chair of Directors

Provides leadership for the board as it fulfills its governance duties and responsibilities toward the organisation by setting vision, values, mission, strategy and high-level policy with charity regulations.  The Chair is responsible for monitoring BAPT’s performance against established targets, securing financial stability for the organisation, protecting and managing organisational property and investments, safeguarding BAPT’s reputation and values, ensuring all organisational activities comply with regulations and the law. 

In addition, reviewing major risks and making provisions for BAPT to respond appropriately, organising and leading board development activities and delegating duties appropriately.  Acting as a spokesperson for the organisation: The Chair speaks for and represents the organisation when authorised.

Vice Chair

To support the BAPT Chair of Directors in their role encompassing all governance duties and responsibilities toward the organisation as above.  The Vice Chair shares the leadership of the board and makes the role of Chair of Directors more manageable, deputising as required. 


The trustees will ensure that BAPT complies with its governing document, charity law, company law and any other relevant legislation or regulations, contributes actively to the board of trustees’ role in giving firm strategic direction to BAPT, setting overall policy, defining goals and setting targets and evaluating performance against agreed targets.  In addition, safeguards the good name and values of BAPT, ensures the effective and efficient administration of BAPT, financial stability whilst protecting and managing the property of the charity and ensuring the proper investment of BAPT’s funds.

Lay Members

The Board of Directors also includes Lay members who are members of the public who bring specific knowledge, experience or expertise – for example knowledge of business practices, legal expertise, expertise from a service user or carer perspective. Lay members are recruited regularly and are appointed to service on the board as a Director for a period of three years. If you are interested in becoming a Lay member within BAPT please contact us using the feedback form.

Professional Conduct Panel

Remit:   The Professional Conduct Panel implements and co-ordinates all aspects of the complaints procedure

BAPT Sub-Committees

BAPT Sub-Committee members are elected each year at the BAPT Annual General Meeting. BAPT Sub-Committees undertake diverse and distinct areas of work that are allocated by the BAPT Board of Directors. BAPT Sub-Committees are accountable to the BAPT Board of Directors.

The BAPT Sub-Committees are as follows:

Training and Education Sub-Committee

Remit:    To implement, manage and co-ordinate the accreditation and re-accreditation of Play Therapy training courses. To develop and facilitate the continuing development of Play Therapy training. To manage complaints, enquires and queries concerning the accreditation and re-accreditation of Play Therapy training programmes. To develop and implement appropriate criteria for the approval of BAPT Supervisors. To co-ordinate and process BAPT full members CPD portfolios and manage and co-ordinate accreditation & re-accreditation of CPD courses.

Finance and Resources Sub-Committee

Remit:    The Finance and Resources Committee oversees BAPT’s financial affairs, ensuring financial viability, accurate records, and compliance with the governing document, charity law, company law, and other regulations. The committee contributes to the board’s strategic direction, policy setting, goal definition, and performance evaluation. The committee safeguards BAPT’s reputation and values, manages income, expenditure, and funding, and organises funding applications from grants and other sources. It allocates funds to Sub-Committees for projects and running costs, and manages resources needed for BAPT’s effective functioning. Additionally, the committee protects and manages the charity’s property and ensures proper investment of its funds.

Conference Sub-Committee

Remit:    To co-ordinate and manage the BAPT annual conference. To evaluate the needs of the membership and organise relevant subject areas within the BAPT Conference.

Communication and Public Relations Sub-Committee

Remit:    To develop and maintain open communication of BAPT’s aims, objectives and services to local and national communities, including both public and professional areas. To enhance the communication within the BAPT membership; disseminating information, research, professional information and opportunities. To market and raise the profile of the Play Therapy profession through the dissemination of good practice, research, theories and professional opinion.

Membership Sub-Committee

Remit:    To manage and oversee membership applications, renewals, enquires and queries. To maintain and manage the continuing professional development of BAPT full members.

Professional Practice Sub-Committee

Remit:    To develop and implement guidance and regulations relating to the effective, competent and ethical practice of Play Therapy. To consider enquiries, queries and questions relating to professional practice by BAPT members, other professionals and the general public.

Supervisors Sub-Committee

Remit: To ensure that BAPT Registered Play Therapists® receive high quality supervision as a core aspect of their therapeutic practice.

Wales Representative 

Remit:  To communicate information to the BAPT board regarding play therapy in Wales such as what the interest of play therapy is in a wider context of local government strategic planning, education sector awareness of the benefits of play therapy, the thoughts and feelings of play therapists in the current climate, the University of South Wales MSc Play Therapy course and any other things of interest.

Scotland Representative

Remit: To communicate information to the BAPT board regarding play therapy in Scotland such as what the interest of play therapy is in a wider context of local government strategic planning, education sector awareness of the benefits of play therapy, the thoughts and feelings of play therapists in the current climate, the Queen Margaret University MSc Play Therapy course and any other things of interest. Arrange quarterly Scottish forum meetings online and face to face.

Overseas Ambassador

Remit:  To communicate information to the BAPT board regarding play therapy around the world such as what the interest of play therapy is in a wider context of local government strategic planning, education sector awareness of the benefits of play therapy, the thoughts and feelings of play therapists in the current climate, Play Therapy qualifications and any other things of interest.

If you wish to contact any of the BAPT Board Members or BAPT Sub-committee members please either email: or use our feedback form.