The use of play therapy in the private clinical setting
Burtch, Jeremy John
University of Wisconsin--Stout
Olsen-Murray, M. Jo
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The purpose of this study was to identify factors relating to the use of play therapy as a counseling tool in private therapy clinics in the Midwest region of the United States. Play therapy is an interpersonal relationship between a troubled child and a therapist. Toys are the means of interaction and communication between the child and therapist. The selected play materials facilitate the development of a safe relationship in which the child can fully express and explore him/herself. Feelings, thoughts, experiences, and behaviors that occur in the play therapy room are accepted unconditionally by the play therapist. Since play is the natural medium of communication for the child, and expressing these feelings and thoughts is a key to successful therapy, few restrictions are placed on him/her (Landreth, 1991). For this study, a total of 100 surveys were sent to subjects in eight (8) cities: Madison, WI; Milwaukee, WI; Des Moines, IA; Cedar Rapids, IA; Saint Paul, MN; Minneapolis, MN; Chicago, IL; Rockford, IL. The survey/questionnaire were used to determine the frequency of play therapy use in this clinical setting. It identified demographic variables of therapists who use play therapy as a counseling tool, and identified issues and problems where play therapy would be implemented by the therapist. The information concerning formal training in play therapy could be used to implement more play therapy workshops and courses in college. Of the forty-eight (48) therapists who responded to the survey, forty (40) of them use play therapy when counseling children. Results of the survey show a larger number of women (36 or 75%) conducting play therapy than men (12 or 25%). Certain certifications, such as psychologists and social workers, appeared to represent a large portion of therapists who use play therapy, while school psychologists, psychiatrists, and school counselors did not. Results from the study support key words or phrases cited in literature (e.g. client-centered, empowering) as being defining words of play therapy. Problems/ issues (e.g. aggression, abuse) identified in literature were also identified by the surveyed therapists as being helped by play therapy. The results of the questionnaire affirm the application of play therapy in the private clinical setting.