Exploring the effectiveness of child-centered play therapy in young children: a quantitative single case research design
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Play therapy is a growing form of counseling that allows children to express themselves in the most natural way possible. Virginia Axline (1969) applied Roger's person centered theory and core conditions (empathic, genuineness and honesty, unconditional positive regard) to working with children in a therapeutic setting calling it Child Centered Play Therapy. Landreth (2002) further explored and developed child-centered play therapy concepts and techniques and emphasized the art of the relationship between the child and the counselor. Extant research on the effects of CCPT with children with different diagnoses, age groups, and settings is well-documented. However, there is a dearth of information concerning using CCPT in a school setting with children of ages 3-6 who were identified by the teachers as experiencing behavioral difficulties. Thus, the purpose of the study was to see if CCPT would help change behaviors with students that were identified as having behavior difficulties in the classroom. Three teachers observed and identified 12 students in grades pre-kinder 3, 4, and Kindergarten with behavioral difficulties in the classroom. Each of the 12 students was selected to receive an intervention using CCPT. For each of the 12 students, one parent/guardian completed the Child Behavior Check List forms each week, and the respective classroom teacher completed the Caregiver-Teacher Report form each week for the 12-week duration of the study. A single case research design was used, which included three weeks of baseline observation, followed by six weeks of CCPT with treatment twice per week, and three weeks of post baseline observation. Findings revealed that play therapy was a highly effective treatment for reducing negative behaviors in most students. Parents' ratings of behaviors indicated an 88.30% improvement in behaviors, and 50% of teachers' ratings indicated improved behavior change after receiving CCPT. In summary, 71% of all scores indicated change in behavior. Under further evaluation during the post baseline stage of the study, 90% of parents and 80% of teachers rated the student's behavior as improved. The results are indicative of CCPT being a very efficacious treatment intervention for students in grades pre-kinder 3, 4, and Kindergarten.
Doctor of Philosophy