The Profession Structure Model (PSM) builds upon the
Therapeutic Play Continuum
embracing a competency framework, to provide detailed guidance for play
management, training and development, career structure and
succession/staffing planning, recruitment and selection, skills analysis,
CPD, appraisal and remuneration grading and performance assessment as well
as further clarification of the various roles in the profession.
In developing the Play Continuum two problems became apparent:
- The 12 attributes or variables used in the Play Continuum were not sufficient to define exactly what
the practitioner of each application does and how well they are likely to
do it. This problem is crucial when considering the management of quality
- Some users and commissioners of play and creative arts therapies will
require a more comprehensive definition in some areas. On the other
hand we do not want to over complicate where it isn’t necessary.
To solve these problems PTUK felt the need for a multi level descriptive
tool. A competency framework came to mind. This opens up a number of other
exciting possibilities for the profession in addition to its originally
intended use as an explanatory and communication tool.
Private and public sector organisations have been developing and using
competencies and competency frameworks for about 20 years. Originally
competency based criteria were developed for very specific applications –
one set for designing training programmes, another as a basis for
remuneration scale grading etc rather as PTUK had first conceived the Play
Continuum as a communications tool. However it was soon realised that a
competency framework could be applied across a full range of human
processes. We believe that it may be extended to a full range
of professional processes
A common set of criteria for all professional processes has two main
- It provides the basis of a common (international) language for
describing the effectiveness of its members both internally to the
profession and even more importantly externally to its clients and other
- An opportunity to achieve a high level of consistency when measuring
quality of service and assessing performance.
PTUK believes that ‘quality management’ perhaps better expressed as
‘clinical governance’ is fundamental to play and creative arts therapies. It
is as important as safety and indeed complete safety cannot exist without
clinical governance. Although outcome measures are paramount in clinical
governance they are not always obtainable and therefore it is our view that
which can always be observed, should be compared to
agreed standards – a competency framework.
Sometimes there is confusion between ‘competence’ and ‘competency’. We
are using the term ‘Competence’ as an ability based on work tasks or job
outputs eg ‘Able to give a preamble to a child about to use a sand tray’ and
the term ‘Competency’ as an ability based on behaviour eg ‘Sets the
boundaries for a sandplay session prior to starting’. In practice many
frameworks blend both together and this is how PTUK has proceeded.
Example of a Competency
Profile (Play Therapist)
Example of a Competency
Profile (Filial Play Coach/Mentor)
It was originally proposed to use a competency framework structure
consisting of competency clusters
eg working with children
therapeutically, working with parents/carers, working with referrers,
working with information etc Within each cluster there would be a list,
sometimes very extensive, of each competency
as illustrated above.
A competency would then be given one or more behavioural indicators
These are the basic building blocks of the framework. They are examples of
behaviour that may be observed when someone demonstrates competency. Because
the framework will have to cover a wide range of working situations (note we
are not using the term ‘job’ at this point) with different degrees of
demands the behavioural indicators will normally be divided into separate
. For example the competence ‘Working with Information
– Gathering and analysing information’ would have different levels for a
work situation requiring therapeutic play skills compared to that of a
manager and clinical supervisor of highly experienced play therapists.
Use by employers
Use by practitioners
- Clarifying the roles of play and creative arts therapies
- Quality management – classification and measurement of performance
- Career structure and succession/staffing planning
- Training and development
- Recruitment and selection
- Skills analysis, CPD and appraisal
- Reward – remuneration grading and performance assessment
A competency framework is generally viewed as a human resource management
tool. Because of the wide range of potential uses at a professional as well
as individual and organisation level PTUK believes that the term ‘Structure
Model’ is more appropriate.
We have taken as a precedent the Industry Structure Model developed by
the British Computer Society (BCS) first published in 1986. There are a
number of parallels:
Skills in both information technology and play therapy have developed substantially in the last 40 years
There is a rapidly changing body of knowledge
Many practitioners have learnt skills on the job, through experience,
rather than through academically approved courses
A recent realisation is that quality management is vital for
The BCS Industry Structure Model is in effect a competency framework for
the whole IT industry.
PTUK is combining parts of both the competency framework and the
structure model approaches by using
Competencies, Behavioural Indicators, Levels and
Role Levels as the elements of the models.
The following roles are included in the PSM:
Initially Trained Practitioner
Skilled Practitioner - Certified Play Therapist
Experienced General Practitioner - Accredited Play Therapist
Specialist Practitioner/ Line Manager – limited scope
Practitioner / Line Manager
10 Play Therapy
11 Play Therapy
12 Filial Play
The model enables competencies and their behaviour indicators to be
specified for each role and level.
An obvious question is: "Won’t the sheer detail and complexity of the
model overwhelm people and therefore it won’t be useful?". The benefit of
using different levels of elements is that users can pick the amount of
detail required. A parent may well be satisfied with a selection of
Groupings and Competencies. Someone recruiting a Play Therapist could use a
selection from Groupings, Competencies and Behavioural Indicators. A
designer of training programmes should certainly consider the full detail
for each competency that is being addressed. A Director of Services may need
to drill down to the Status elements to devise a remuneration scale.
PTUK is managing the continued development of the model on
behalf of PTI and its affiliates. This involves a number of highly
experienced play therapists both in the UK and other countries.
intellectual property rights (IPR) of the model belong to PTUK. A free
licence to use is available to all current PTI and affiliate members.
PTUK welcomes constructive comments, suggested amendments and additions
from all visitors. Please e-mail email@example.com
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