One thought on “How Can You Tell if Play Therapy Works?

  • July 13, 2015 at 11:53 am

    This is an interesting take on a complicated problem. You’re not wrong that the term “play therapy” doesn’t have just one definition, but in part that’s because it’s a relatively new way of working with children with mental health issues. The Association for Play Therapy has only been in existence for 32 years, which is really young for a profession. There are still a lot of growing pains. Additionally, it is an approach, rather than a specific theory or intervention. I think that one way that researchers are trying to get around this issue is by studying specific theories and interventions of play therapy like Child-Centered Play Therapy, Child Parent Relationship Therapy, Gestalt Play Therapy, Child Parent Psychotherapy, and Mindfulness Based Play Family Therapy. Since these do have prescriptive methods and parameters, they are easier to study that just “play therapy.” Some practitioners in the field still say they are using play therapy, when in reality they are having children play with the goal that this will get them to talk. I haven’t found a play therapy theory that suggests the client has to talk in order for therapy to be effective. The APT website has a lot of really great information that makes this distinction. This page is particularly helpful: https://a4pt.site-ym.com/general/custom.asp?page=PTMakesADifference.

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