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Graduate Degrees | Counselor Education (Play Therapy)

Online Ed.S. in Counselor Education—Play Therapy Emphasis

Play forms its own language—one reflecting communication, creativity, and awareness of the world. Expressiveness, however, goes beyond make-believe to reflect a child’s emotional state, guide their developmental growth, and help them process challenging feelings and trauma. In turn, becoming a Registered Play Therapist (RPT) allows licensed counselors to better connect with and support their child and adolescent clients.

The University of Mississippi’s online Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree in Counselor Education includes a Play Therapy emphasis to introduce licensed counselors in school, clinic, and community environments to the discipline’s principles and help them qualify for licensure through the Association for Play Therapy. This post-master’s program builds off the Master of Education in Counselor Education sequence with 25 credit hours of fully online coursework and a minimum of 350 clock hours of play therapy sessions with clients, of which a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor oversees at least 35 hours.

About the Online Ed.S. in Counselor Education With a Play Therapy Emphasis

Play empowers children to communicate, build relationships, and learn socioemotional skills and resilience. Play therapy grows from these developmentally appropriate patterns, taking a structured approach that helps children express or process difficult emotions and grapple with social, emotional, behavioral, and learning issues. RPTs pull from multiple tactics and theories to help children address and cope with mental health conditions, trauma, and stress, recall memories, face various social or developmental hurdles, and give context to feelings or a situation.

The online Ed.S. in Counselor Education partially meets Mississippi requirements for AAA school counselor licensure and consists of 66 credit hours of post-master’s coursework. The Play Therapy emphasis suits counseling, social work, marriage and family therapy, and psychology professionals with a completed master’s interested in supporting the socioemotional development of their child and adolescent patients and is open to domestic and international students.

As the only fully online Ed.S. in Play Therapy, the program:

  • Touches on play therapy as an extension and reflection of a child’s verbal and socioemotional skills
  • Explores play therapy techniques and theories in relation to mental health concerns, trauma, and stress
  • Instructs you in utilizing these methods to present and resolve challenges and help child and teen patients manage mental health concerns and progress developmentally
  • Highlights research and analysis as tools of evidence-based counseling practice


The online Ed.S. in Counselor Education consists of 66 credit hours, and the Play Therapy emphasis adds 25 credit hours, including at least 350 clock hours of practicum assignments interacting with patients.

While fully online coursework helps professionals earn this credential around their schedules, the program requires a three-day onsite residency in Oxford during the summer session. Here, students meet with play therapy faculty at the Counselor Education Clinic for Outreach and Personal Enrichment (COPE). COPE provides free mental health counseling to Ole Miss faculty, staff, students, and members of the surrounding community and allows graduate students to apply what they have learned while assisting a variety of patients.

On top of the general Counselor Education sequence, the Play Therapy emphasis goes over:

  • How to counsel children through play and the theories, methods, and interpersonal skills professionals use
  • The expressive arts, including music, art, drama, dance, and more, counselors can employ when interacting with children and adolescents
  • Psychotropic medications and pharmacology
  • Supervisory roles, evaluation methods, research, and legal, ethical, and sociocultural factors involved in play therapy
  • Parent-child and teacher-child relationships
  • Diagnostic, assessment, and treatment planning concerns regarding child development and the role of play therapy

Review all requirements for the Ed.S. in Counselor Education with a Play Therapy emphasis

Careers in Play Therapy

The Play Therapy program’s blend of coursework and practicum hours positions currently licensed school or professional counselors to qualify for an RPT credential. Once a licensed counseling professional holds this distinction, they’re eligible to foster the socioemotional development of child and adolescent clients in school, clinic, community, or medical center settings, including one-on-one or in groups.

During these sessions, the RPT assesses clients through various play therapy techniques to encourage more complex communication, understand how they may be feeling, and introduce supportive and adaptive behavior changes.

Gain the Skills and Experiences to Become an RPT

You’re already a licensed counselor, so broaden your skill set to reach more patients with the online Ed.S. in Counselor Education with a Play Therapy emphasis. For more information, contact:

Admissions/Program Info
Graduate Studies Office
228 Guyton Hall
(662) 915-4400

Program Contact
Franc Hudspeth