In 1985, the founding efforts of two key Canadians in the field of child psychology and play therapy, Mark Barnes and Cynthia Taylor, resulted in the establishment of Certification Standards through the non-profit Canadian child psychotherapy and play therapy association which set the pace for a professional approach to play therapy. To this end a fledgling group of practising Canadian child psychotherapists and play therapists worked on developing an organization to meet professional needs. It gradually expanded and eventually a Board of Directors was formed; objects and by-laws were designed, revised, re-revised and finally approved by the Government of Canada. The Canadian association was eventually recognized as a non-profit organization in 1986.
Initial Board representation came from Charlottetown, Kingston, Toronto, Cambridge, Ottawa and Peterborough. This was the first professional body in the world to offer a national program of Certification in Child Psychotherapy and Play Therapy that involved rigorous and credible professional standards.
In its first 2 years of growth the Canadian Certification program captured a great deal of public and media attention with newspaper articles in virtually every major Canadian city as well as several American cities. There were television and radio interviews broadcast throughout Canada, the U.S., Europe and Australia in such cities as Los Angeles, Denver, Houston, Miami, St. Louis, Toronto, Zurich Switzerland, New York, Melbourne Australia, to name but a few. The media focused special attention on the child psychotherapy and play therapy Certification process and the technique of sandplay.
Over the first few years of Canadian Certification history, programs for brief training in play therapy began to be offered, mainly in the province of Ontario and on the east coast. Requests began to come in from all over North America and efforts expanded to bring play therapy to a wider audience.
A significant organization in Canada has been the Canadian Play Therapy Institute (CPTI. In the 1980s a full training program was established at a Children’s Mental Health Centre in Canada under the directorship of the late Mr. Shige Morita, MSW. Here, a professional could enter a 2 year training program and upon completion, would have met all of the clinical practise and play therapy academic requirements for Certification. This Children’s Mental Health Centre was a provincially publicly funded program and, unfortunately, this centre and the training program closed as they became some of the many victims of funding restraints.
However, the staff and faculty involved in the Centre’s training programs felt strongly about the need for training in children’s mental health treatment. Thus, a new independent centre, The Canadian Play Therapy Institute (CPTI), was established to offer accredited training opportunities in child psychotherapy, play therapy, and other mental health issues. CPTI brought together some of the key Canadian and International professionals under the umbrella of one organization to provide travelling training programs in play therapy. To assist those in isolated settings, the Canadian Institute became the first organization in the world with an accredited (by CACPT and IBECPT) academic program of distance education in child psychotherapy and play therapy.
Continuing its pioneering efforts and remaining on the cutting edge of the field, The Canadian Play Therapy Institute was the first child psychology and play therapy organization in the world to go on the internet with its own website located at www.rmpti.com is the first version of this site.
During 1995/1996, a whole new horizon opened up for the profession of play therapy as a result of the Canadian Play Therapy Institute’s pioneering efforts on an International basis. Faculty members of CPTI were inundated with an increasing and overwhelming number of international requests for training programs throughout the world. However, time and energy were being taken away from the Canadian Institute. Thus, as a result of this pressure and demand, an entirely separate and new organisation, The International Society for Child and Play Therapy/Play Therapy International (and The International Board of Examiners of Certified Play Therapists) was founded to meet international needs. As a result of intensive efforts throughout the world, Play Therapy International was established.
There now existed a mutually supportive recognition between Play Therapy International/The International Board of Examiners of Certified Play Therapists, The Canadian Play Therapy Institute, as well as a number of other professional bodies throughout the world. We feel that such mutual support is highly beneficial for the field overall and gives a highly professional image to the work that we all do. All such teamwork serves to help the children we are dedicated to serving.
Certification now became available on an international basis through the International Board of Examiners of Certified Child and Play Therapists. The standards for International Certification are extremely high — the highest in the world — and offer highly qualified professionals the recognition they deserve. Once again, Canada was a leader in their participation in the formation of this International organization.
The United Kingdom Society for Play and Creative Arts Therapies Limited (known in short as PTUK) was originally set up in October 2000 as Play Therapy UK with the encouragement of PTI. It was established as an alternative governing body and professional organisation in the UK to provide a choice for practitioners of and anyone interested in using therapeutic play, play therapy or creative arts therapies to help children with emotional literacy, behaviour and mental health problems.
It was felt, by a number of practitioners at that time in the UK, that then solely existing professional association was too restrictive in its membership criteria, had course accreditation standards that did not meet the needs to produce the large numbers of safe and effective practitioners that are required in the United Kingdom and was insufficiently open or innovative in its policies. Since then PTUK has grown to be the largest organisation in the UK in the field of therapeutic play and play therapy and has a proud record of innovation.
In 2001 PTUK introduced the ‘Spectrum of Needs’ and ‘Therapeutic Play Continuum’ concepts that recognise that children have a wide range of emotional, behaviour and mental health problems and that professionals with a variety of interventions and skill levels can safely and effectively alleviate these conditions. A new Ethical System was introduced to provide better protection for both the public and therapists. This incorporates an ethical framework, professional conduct procedure and a clinical governance requirement which placed the PTUK in the forefront of setting high professional standards for Europe.
In the Autumn the first issue of the ‘Play for Life’ four colour A4 practitioner journal was published by PTUK.
PTUK then developed, in 2002, the Profession Structure Model (PSM), based on a competency framework, using the experience of a number of international play therapists. This was the first major innovation concerning the organisation of the profession since it started in the UK.
At this time PTUK had a close, but informal, link to Play Therapy International (PTI) to share best practice around the world. The web site www.playtherapy.org.uk was launched and development started on the SEPACTO research project , funded by PTUK, development started.