Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

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


Social Work

First Advisor

Mary Nienow


Social Work


Today, 1 out of every 5 children are experiencing some sort of mental health condition, and of those children only one third will receive the treatment they need (As cited in Meany- Walen & Teeling, 2016; SAMHSA, 2015). As these mental health challenges in children continue to grow, so too does the need to use proven treatments. Play therapy is an effective and useful treatment approach for young children that has been proven effective for children ranging in age (Bratten et al., 2013; Cochran et al., 2010), diagnosis (Bratton, et al., 2014; Gold, et al., 2014) and culture (Cochran, Cochran, Nordling, McAdam, & Miller, 2010; Shen, 2016). While studies can be found, focusing upon the effectiveness of play therapy, a gap in the literature exists around the experiences of parents whose children have engaged in play therapy. Therefore, this study seeks to explore the experiences of parents who have had a child in play therapy, and examines the perspectives of these parents regarding their child’s therapy process. This study used a qualitative research method to explore the research question: What are the experiences of parents who have had a child in play therapy? Data was collected using semi-structured interviews and the data was coded and analyzed using a grounded theory approach. The findings of this study support the need for parent participation throughout the play therapy process and stressed the importance of creating a positive parent-therapist relationship. Also discovered was the importance of outside influences as well as the role of culture affecting parental experiences with play therapy.

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Social Work Commons