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British Association of Play Therapists

General Information

The Association of Play Therapists was founded in 1992 by a group of now respected practitioners who introduced and pioneered Play Therapy within Britain. As the first and foremost professional association for Play Therapy in the United Kingdom, ‘British’ was added to its name in 1996 to avoid confusion with its American counterpart. 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 Ltd was granted Charity Status by the Charities Commission (registered charity number 1115673)

Mission Statement

The latest BAPT mission statement, formulated in June 2004, defines the Association’s purpose to:

Nurture, develop and advance the profession and application of Play Therapy through commitment to:
1 Raising public and professional awareness of the value of Play Therapy for enhancing the mental health and emotional well-being of children and young people;
2 Promoting safe, ethical, effective practice of Play Therapy through high quality regulated training, monitored continuing professional development and evidence-based research
3 Equal opportunities to meet the needs of a diverse population
4 Maintenance of a strong professional association

When BAPT was awarded charity status in 2006 the Charity’s Objects were redefined as:
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.


To fulfil this mission statement the Association’s key aims are to:

  • Endeavour to protect the public against harmful conduct by members of all classes who are practising Play Therapy;
  • Promote and develop standards of training and practice;
  • Promote study and research in the field and practice of Play Therapy;
  • Encourage the sharing of information, experience and skills;
  • Maintain the highest levels of professional conduct by members of all classes who are practising Play Therapy;
  • Provide a national and regional resource for its members;
  • Reflect, acknowledge and encourage diversity both in clinical practice and within the professional association
  • Promote anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive practice, as clinical practitioners in the field and within the professional association


To achieve these aims the Association’s specific objectives are:

  • To stimulate an active interest in the development of Play Therapy;
  • To provide an understanding and awareness of Play Therapy;

To provide a support network for Play Therapists;

  • To provide information on specialised training courses;
  • To provide criteria and guidelines for the accreditation and re-accreditation of training courses, ensuring that standards required by training courses meet the criteria for Full membership of the Association;
  • To maintain a membership list and a directory of Full members who elect for inclusion;
  • To work with the Criminal Records Bureau to ensure that all Full members have an up-do-date clear police check;
  • To compile a list of members approved by the Board of Directors to offer supervision;
  • To distribute a quarterly members’ magazine;
  • To provide an informative website;
  • To publish an annual academic Journal;
  • To organise conferences and promote training events on issues relating to Play Therapy;
  • To provide an Ethical Framework and a Code of Practice;
  • To provide a Complaints Procedure that governs the professional conduct and practice of members of all classes who are practising Play Therapy;
  • To hold an Annual General Meeting and Conference;
  • To maintain liaison with other professional groups involved in working with children;
  • To offer a forum for discussion of professional issues.


In 1996 the following definition of Play Therapy was adopted:

“Play Therapy is the dynamic process between child and Play Therapist in which the child explores at his or her own pace and with his or her own agenda those issues, past and current, conscious and unconscious, that are effecting the child’s life in the present. The child’s inner resources are enabled by the therapeutic alliance to bring about growth and change. Play Therapy is child-centred, in which play is the primary medium and speech is the secondary medium.

Play Therapy encompasses many approaches but the foundation of all approaches is child-centred”

British Association of Play Therapists
Code of Ethics and Practice (1996)

BAPT promotes person-centred therapy, based on humanistic principles (eg Rogers, Axline).
For a fuller theoretical background to Play Therapy : Click Here

BAPT structure

The business of British Association of Play Therapists Limited is managed by the Board of Directors. The Memorandum and Articles of Association lay out the governance arrangements for the organization. You can download this document by using the following link: Section-10-MEMORANDUMARTICLES-of-ASSOCIATION-ammended-Sept-14.doc

BAPT is a member–led organization and the officers of BAPT are elected to serve a period of office by the membership through the Annual General meeting: The following diagram indicates the structure of BAPT as an organization.

The Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is the decision-making body of BAPT Ltd. 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, s/he may not serve more than five consecutive years.

Lay Members
The Board of Directors also includes Lay members who are members of the public who have 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 you can download further information using the link below

Lay Member Job description and person spec

Lay Member application form

The Board of Directors delegates responsibilities to the following Sub-Committees, which are open to BAPT members in any category:

Communications and Public Relations Sub-Committee
The Communications and Public Relations Sub-Committee develops and maintains open communications of BAPT’s aims, objectives and services to local and national communities, including both public and professional areas.

Finance and Resources Sub-Committee
The Finance and Resources Sub-Committee maintains, manages and oversees the income, expenditure, funding and resourcing of BAPT.

Membership Sub-Committee
The Membership Sub-Committee co-ordinates the membership application process and members benefits, including student membership and support and where appropriate, advises and supports the BAPT Registrar.

Research Sub-Committee
The Research Sub-Committee encourages, develops and disseminates research into all aspects of Play Therapy theory, methods and practice.

Training and Education Sub-Committee
The Training and Education Sub-Committee implements, manages and co-ordinates the accreditation and re-accreditation of Play Therapy training courses, members continuing professional development and clinical supervision.

Professional Practice Sub-Committee
The Professional Practice Sub-Committee develops and implements guidance and regulations relating to the effective, competent and ethical practice of Play Therapy. In addition to the Sub-Committees, the Board of Directors delegates specific functions to the following Committee and Working Party:

Complaints Committee
The Complaints Committee implements and co-ordinates all aspects of the complaints procedure. The Chairperson is independent of the BAPT Board.

Current Board Members, following the AGM , July 22:

Chairperson:  Donna Benson 

Vice Chair: Sarah Hickson

Treasurer:  tba

Company Secretary: Judith James

Membership (Applications)

Membership other – Alex Machon

Training and Education  Chairperson: Tracie Faa Thompson

Overseas  Co-ordinator: Sarah Hickson

Professional Practice – Donna Benson –

Communications & Public Relations  Chairperson: Esther Schencks –

Wales Representative  – Ann Greenwood

Scotland Representative – Tracy Lannigan –

other Board Members:

 Jo Hill –

Sandra Boyle –

Sonia Murray – TBC


Lay Members:

Andrew O’Mahony –

Chris Warren-Adamson Lay Member (Complaints)


Professional Conduct/Complaints – Linda St Louis –

Conference Manager –

BAPT Membership

Full Membership is open to any person who fulfills the criteria for membership – i.e they have successfully completed a play therapy qualification on one of the BAPT accredited Qualifying programmes or have successfully completed the BAPT portfolio route. ON application members must identify who will provide their clinical supervision and provide evidence of valid current Professional Indemnity and Public Liability insurance and an up do date DBS clearance. Full members have the right to vote at the AGM and to stand for election on to the Board of Directors. Full members receive a photo-identity membership card and access to Play Therapy employment opportunities. Names of all full members will appear on the online BAPT’s Professional Standards Agency Accredited Register of Play Therapists which will enable members of the public to ensure that their therapists are appropriately qualified.

The Professional Standards Authority Accredited Register programme was set up to provide assurance on the standards of registers of unregulated health and care occupations. Being accredited by the Authority offers enhanced protection to anyone looking for Play Therapy services – people now have the option of seeking practitioners on a register that has been vetted and approved.

Accreditation offers practitioners working in Play Therapy a means of demonstrating their personal commitment to meeting high standards by joining BAPT or another accredited register.
Accreditation means that BAPT has met the Authority’s demanding standards in the following areas: governance, setting standards, education and training, managing the register, providing information and complaints handling.
BAPT needed to provide evidence and demonstrate to the Authority that it meets the Accreditation Standards. Accreditation will be reviewed annually.
Being accredited means that BAPT has satisfied the Authority that it meets its high standards. It is a mark of quality.
Accreditation does not imply that the Authority has itself assessed the merits of individuals on the BAPT register. It remains the responsibility of BAPT to do that. BAPT will require its registrants to meet high standards of personal behaviour, technical competence and, where applicable, business practice.
Accreditation does not imply that the Authority has endorsed the efficacy of a treatment or therapy practised or any other service offered by registrants on the BAPT register.
Accredited Registration is different from statutory regulation because it is voluntary, not compulsory. Practitioners can work in Play Therapy without being on a register.
Registers accredited by the Authority will encompass a wide range of occupations and organisations holding registers. The Authority may accredit more than one register in any particular occupation.
Accredited Registers will be entitled to use the Authority’s accreditation mark so that they can be distinguished easily.
The quality mark will give extra peace of mind for anyone looking for a Play Therapist, letting them know that anyone who holds the mark is committed to the high standards of BAPT.
All Accredited Registers can be accessed through the Professional Standards Authority’s website –
This programme applies to the health sector in the UK and to social care in England.
The title Accredited Registers provides simplicity and clarity for consumers and registers alike, and reflects feedback we have received. The purpose, principles and practice of the programme are focused on providing users of a range of healthcare services and occupations with assurance and consumer protection.

Full members have access to BAPT Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training courses.

For those who would like to achieve membership of BAPT and believe they can demonstrate equivalency in their professional training the Portfolio route is now available. Details of the portfolio route can be downloaded from the Join BAPT page.


Student members: Student Membership attracts a lower subscription rate than Full membership, and is available to any person undertaking a training course validated by BAPT. Students will not become eligible for entry on the BAPT Register of Play Therapists until they have completed their Play Therapy qualification.

Retired Members: Retired Membership, which attracts a lower subscription rate than Full membership, is available to any person who was a previous member of the association and has now retired from all paid employment, but has an interest in continuing to receive regular information about Play Therapy issues. All members (Full, Student & Retired) also receive:

* free membership pack (including the regularly-updated folder of documents: ‘The Guide to Play Therapy’ and sample copies of all BAPT leaflets)

* free subscription to the quarterly Magazine: ‘Play Therapy’, which offers members’ articles, book reviews, Board updates, notification of forthcoming courses, and other relevant current information. The magazine also occasionally offers negotiated discounted prices on relevant books and toys

* free subscription to the annual British Journal of Play Therapy

* reduced fees for the BAPT annual conference

* 10% discount on many BAPT publications

* access to the Website members’ area

Associate Members: Becoming an Associate member of BAPT is open to any person interested in the field of Play Therapy. BAPT Associates are not entitled to appear on the BAPT Register of Play Therapists. BAPT Associates receive

* a welcome pack including the regularly updated folder of documents: ‘The Guide to Play Therapy’, and sample copies of all BAPT leaflets

* free copies of the quarterly magazine ‘Play Therapy’

* reduced fees for the BAPT annual conference

* a 1/3 discount on the price of ‘The British Journal of Play Therapy’

BAPT Publications

The following documents and publications may be obtained or purchased from the online shop or BAPT administrative office:

What is Play Therapy? – an information leaflet for professionals

What is Play Therapy? A leaflet for Children – an explanatory booklet illustrated with attractive cartoon style pictures, aimed at young clients

Play Therapy and Your Child: Information for Parents and Carers – a leaflet which answers the frequently-asked-questions by parents/carers when their child is referred for Play Therapy

Play Therapy in Schools – a leaflet providing information for school personnel, such as SENCOs or Lead Behaviour Professionals, and other members of school staff who encounter Play Therapists working in the educational environment. The booklet is a valuable resource for those Play Therapists working in schools who need to explain their work: both the theory and the practical implications

Play Therapy – the Association’s quarterly magazine.

British Journal of Play Therapy – the annual professional Journal. Carries papers of interest not only to members of BAPT, but also to members of other occupational groups using therapeutic play skills.

The Guide to Play Therapy – a twelve-section document covering essential aspects of Play Therapy theory & practice, including: History, Research, Training; Supervision, CPD, Careers, Reading List, Equal Opportunities Policy.

An Ethical Basis for Good Practice in Play Therapy – An essential regulatory document for anyone interested or practising in Play Therapy.

PLEASE NOTE During periods of holidays (Easter, summer, Christmas) your pay pal payments will take longer to process.

For further information contact our administrative office:

British Association of Play Therapists
1, Beacon Mews,
South Road,
Surrey KT13 9DZ

Phone: 01932 828638
fax: 01932 820100

The British Association of Play Therapists is the trading name of The British Association of Play Therapists Ltd, registered in England & Wales Company number 5477406. Registered Charity number 1115673