Gestalt Play Therapy - dealing with sadnessEvery day therapists, counsellors, social workers and teachers deal with traumatised children. Some of these children are psychologically and emotionally damaged and their normal functioning is seriously hampered. Play therapy uses a variety of techniques that provide an opportunity for the child to communicate emotions, feelings, experiences and behaviour. Therapists use the responses in play to intervene and to heal. It can be said that Play Therapy is the systematic use of Gestalt philosophy to establish an interpersonal process wherein play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial challenges and achieve optimal growth and development. A working definition might be a form of counselling that therapeutically engages the power of play to communicate with and help people, especially children, to engender optimal integration and individualization.

Play Therapy is often used as a tool of assessment. A play therapist facilitates a client playing with toys (play-houses, pets, dolls, etc.) to determine the cause of the disturbed behaviour or unspoken need. The objects and patterns of play, as well as the willingness to interact with the therapist, can be used to understand the underlying meanings for needs, wishes and behaviour both inside and outside the session.

According to the psychodynamic characteristic of human behaviour children will engage in play behaviour in order to work through their interior obstructions and anxieties without realizing it. In this way, play therapy can be used as an awareness creating mechanism. From a developmental point of view, play has been determined to be an essential component of healthy child development. Play has been directly linked to cognitive development. Children play for a reason. It can be for e.g. to release tension or to be the controller.


Dr Hannie SchoemanDr. Hannie Schoeman, the founder of the Centre for Play Therapy and Training, has actively been involved in play therapy training for 25 years. She trained intensively in the USA and Canada, specializing in play therapy. Initially Dr. Schoeman trained as play therapist at the Violet Oaklander Institute, Santa Barbara, USA. She also participated in international conferences and workshops in the USA, Sweden, Canada, UK and the RSA. She networks internationally with Gestalt and play therapist experts. She is a former Director of FAMSA (Pretoria), senior lecturer in Social Work (Play Therapy) and Play Therapy Manager at the University of Pretoria. She is at present the Director of the Centre for Play Therapy and Training, Gansbaai. Dr. Schoeman is a co-author of the book “Entering the Childs World – A Play Therapy Approach” and presented papers at national and international academic events.

She is a member of the South African Council of Social Service Professions. She was also the RSA representative on the International Association for the Advancement of Gestalt Therapy.
Dr. Hannie was the promoter for 50 MA candidates, 14 doctoral candidates in the field of Play Therapy.

The Centre for Play Therapy and Training is situated on the Uylenvlei Retreat, approximately 15 km from Gansbaai, in a picturesque valley, very quiet and peaceful. www.uylenvlei-retreat.co.za


Learning takes place within the Gestalt perspective. The effectiveness of the training programmes is underlined in the approach that the whole field are involved. The emphasis during these training courses is on an experimental and practical level.

Learning objectives are based on safe and effective practice with children and in the framework of The Children´s Act 38 of 2005, the constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCCRS) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC).

  • The emphasis is upon experiental work underpinned by theory. Students work in two´s during the excersises.
  • The environment is therapeutically safe to participants being able to deal with their personal psychological issues that rise in the learning. They make contact with their inner-child.
  • Practical assistance in helping trainees to master the techniques.


The Centre for Play Therapy and Training offers the following courses and workshops:

Play Therapy Level 1. ( 26 hours. 4 days) 20 SACSSP credits and 05 SAAP credits. R2 100.00 per person.
Play Therapy Level 2. ( 20 hours. 3 days) 15 SACSSP credits and 05 SAAP credits.  R1 950.00 per person.
Sand and Clay Workshop. ( 26 hours. 4 days)  12 SACSSP credits and 05 SAAP credits. R 3 670.00 per person. Accommodation and meals included. Only at the Uylenvlei Retreat Gansbaai.
SLP- Service Learning Programme in partnership with Overberg District Education Department. 12 ½ days @ R6500.00 per person. Awaiting sponsorship for partial costs. (Supervision, accommodation and meals included).

The Centre for Play Therapy and Training is a SACSSP (South African Council for Social Services Professions) and SAAP (The Southern African Association for Pastoral Work) registered centre and as such a provider of CPD credits.

These courses and experiential workshops introduce you to the fundamentals of directive work with children and couples covering the philosophy, methods, mediums and practice of Gestalt Play Therapy.
Upon successful completion students receive certificates. Courses are presented at various locations throughout South Africa and Namibia.

If candidates wishes to have a course in their own area, they can assist in recruiting members for the course and in this way enables them to claim a discount on their own payment for the course. Approach Dr Boet Schoeman on this possibility.

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