Peter Ayling


Senior Lecturer

Department of Social Work and Paramedic Science

Contact Details

tel: 01905 542753

My background is in social work practice with children and families including child protection, children in care, fostering and adoption, child and adolescent mental health.

I have also been involved in therapeutic work with children for the last 15 years as a social worker and play therapist and am enthusiastic about supporting the emotional development and wellbeing of children and ensuring that children's views and wishes about their lives are heard and acted on.

I believe in the importance of the social work profession for our society and enjoy being involved in the training of talented and committed future social workers.


B Social Science (Sociology) 1986
CQSW (Certificate of Qualification in Social work) 1989
MSc Counselling & Psychotherapy, 2000
Ma Non Directive Play Therapy 2005
Advanced Award in Social work, 2005
Post graduate Diploma in Higher Education 2012

Teaching & Research


  • Life course theory of human development.
  • Psychodynamic and humanist theory
  • Theories of child development
  • Attachment & loss
  • Resilience & trauma
  • Social work skills interviewing, listening, empathy
  • Inter professional practice
  • Safeguarding and child protection practice, looked after children
  • Direct work with children
  • Play & play therapy, therapeutic social work


  • Emotional resilience and intelligence
  • Social work professional development and identity
  • Transition into newly qualified social work roles
  • Empathy & compassion in social work practice
  • Visual and creative research methods
  • Interpretative phenomenology

Professional Bodies

British Association of Play Therapists. Registered Member. No 538.

Social work England Registered member SW19832.

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy - reference 47624.


Ayling, Peter. (2012,) Learning through Playing in Higher Education: promoting play as a skill for social work students in Social Work Education: The International Journal, Vol. 31 No 6 September 2012.

Ayling Peter & Stringer, Berni (2013) Supporting Carer-child relationships through play: a model for teaching carers how to use play skills to strengthen attachment relationships in Adoption & Fostering. Summer 2013


Ayling, P, Armstrong, H & Gordon Clark, L Eds. (2019) Becoming and Being a Play Therapist: play therapy in practice.  Abingdon:  Routledge.

Conference papers:

‘We are swimming in Darkness: social workers experiences of empathy and emotion within their work with children’. Poster presentation at European Social work Research Association Conference, Leuven Belgium,11th April 2019.

‘Looking at the stars: a visual and phenomenological study of empathy in social work practice with children’. Paper presented at Joint Social Work Education Council (JSWEC) Conference, Manchester, 9-10th September 2019.

External Responsibilities

External Examiner: University of Cumbria, BA Social Work 2012 -2016 (completed)

External Examiner: University of South Wales, MA Non-Directive Play Therapy. 2013 -2017(completed)

External Examiner: Buckinghamshire New University, BSc Social Work 2017-2020 (completed)

External Examiner: Roehampton University MA Play Therapy 2020-2024

Chair: British Association of Play Therapists. 2010 2015 (completed).