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The Center for Play Therapy is the result of twenty five years of planned development of a play therapy program in the Department of Counseling and Higher Education at the University of North Texas. Interest in play therapy training by graduate students and practicing professionals in the fields of counseling, psychology, social work, and early childhood education resulted in the addition of specialized courses of instruction to North Texas' play therapy curriculum. This training also increased the need for additional play therapy rooms for practice and supervision of play therapists in training. Concomitant with these developments, in 1973 the counseling department began to sponsor an annual Play Therapy Conference on the University of North Texas campus. These conferences attracted nationally recognized authorities in the field of play therapy and participants from a wide geographical region.
In 1987, responding to a request by the UNT Vice President for Academic Affairs that all departments establish national goals as part of their planning, the department of counseling faculty voted unanimously to make play therapy training a national focus. The establishment of the Center for Play Therapy in 1987 was a culmination of efforts, beginning with the first international play therapy conference in 1973, promoting the field of play therapy at the University of North Texas. Support for the Center for Play Therapy and physical space were provided by the University of North Texas. In 1988 the Center for Play Therapy was established under the direction of Dr. Garry Landreth, and a doctoral level graduate assistant was employed to assist in the operation of the Center.
The Center for Play Therapy has grown rapidly and currently provides the largest play therapy training program in the world, attracting graduate students from throughout the fifty states, Canada, and several foreign countries.