Profession Structure Model
The Profession Structure Model (PSM) builds upon The Therapeutic Play Continuum, embracing a competency framework, to provide detailed
guidance for play therapy: quality 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.
Extending the Play Continuum
In developing the Play Continuum two problems became
- 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 of care.
- 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 resource 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 benefits:
- 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 customers.
- An opportunity to achieve a high level of consistency
when measuring quality of service and assessing performance.
The Role of a Competency Framework in Quality Management
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 activities, which can always be observed, should be compared to agreed
standards – a competency framework.
Competence and Competency
Sometimes there is confusion between competence and
competency. We are using the term Competence as an ability based on work tasks
or job outputs e.g. Able to give a preamble to a child about to use a sand tray
and the term Competency as an ability based on behaviour e.g. 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)
Competency Framework Structure
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
competency levels. 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.
Applications of a Competency Framework
- Clarifying the roles of play and creative arts therapies
- Quality management – classification and measurement of
- Career structure and succession/staffing planning
- Training and development
- Recruitment and selection
- Skills analysis, CPD and appraisal
- Reward – remuneration grading and performance assessment
From Competency Framework to Structure Model
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 Competency Categories,
Competencies, Behavioural Indicators, Levels and Role Levels as the elements of the models.
The following roles are included in the PSM:
0 Unskilled Entrant
1 Standard Entrant
2 Post Graduate Entrant
3 Initially Trained Practitioner
4 Trained Practitioner
5 Fully Skilled Practitioner -
Certified Play Therapist
6 Experienced General Practitioner -
Accredited Play Therapist
7 Specialist Practitioner/Line
Manager – limited scope
8 Senior Practitioner/Line Manager
9 Senior Manager/Director/Consultant
10 Play Therapy Supervisor
11 Play Therapy Trainer
12 Filial Play Coach/Mentor
The model enables competencies and their behaviour
indicators to be specified for each role and level.
Dealing with Complexity
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.
The intellectual property rights (IPR) of the model belong
to PTUK. A free licence to use is available to all current PTI and
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