Child and Parent Perceptions of Play Therapy

  • Author / Creator
    Hoover, Michelle NM
  • Play therapy is an effective form of psychotherapy typically used with children under the age of 12. Numerous meta-analyses amalgamating the results of hundreds of play therapy research studies have shown that children who engage in play therapy are better off than nearly 80% of those who do not engage in play therapy. This result is nearly identical to studies examining the effectiveness of therapy in adults who participate in psychotherapy. Within the field of adult psychotherapy there has been significant research examining what makes therapy effective and what the mechanisms of change might be within the therapeutic process. However, a gap has been identified within the field of play therapy regarding this topic. While there has been some initial research exploring what it is within the process of play therapy that helps create change, the vast majority of this research comes from the perspective of the therapist. In psychotherapy, there is often a difference of perspective between what a therapist and a client names as impactful and important within therapy. In play therapy an additional complexity must also be considered. While it is the child typically receiving the clinical services, research has shown that parents also have the ability to impact clinical outcomes achieved. This study focused on child and parent experiences of play therapy and explored each of their perceptions of the therapeutic process. Eight parent/child dyads were interviewed and semi-structured interview questions were used to help explore their various experiences of play therapy. Three shared themes between parent and child groups emerged: support received, the role of the therapist, and the role of play. Results from this study exploring the differences and similarities that emerged between parent and child perceptions of play therapy may help provide insight for play therapists into the expectations that children and parents hold about play therapy, and provide guidance on navigating these multiple impactful participants within the process of play therapy.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2022
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.