Date of Paper

5-2014

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Ande Nesmith

Abstract

The purpose of the present research was to explore practitioners’ perspectives on play therapy as an intervention when working with a child who has experienced trauma, has present PTSD symptoms and has a co-morbid mental health diagnosis. Play therapy has been accepted as an effective intervention to utilize with children who have been exposed to trauma (Schaefer, 1994). However, there is currently limited research evaluating play therapy as an intervention with children who have been traumatized and have developed PTSD or other mental health symptoms/disorders. The current study aimed to supplement the gap in existing research. Two agencies that serve early childhood mental health clients agreed to participate in the present study by completing an online survey. Data was gathered from 22 practitioner respondents. The results indicate that practitioners believe that play therapy is an effective intervention when treating children with trauma histories, PTSD symptoms, and mental health disorders. The results of the present research support findings from previous literature regarding play therapy when used as an intervention for treating trauma and/or mental health disorders. Furthermore, the present research confirms the notion that creating a safe space for their clients using play therapy is an important part of the intervention process. Given the gap in research surrounding play therapy as an intervention when PTSD and a co-morbid mental health disorders occur concurrently, further research would be beneficial to the field of social work and would positively inform the practitioners who work in early intervention settings.

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