Congruence, Unconditional Positive Regard, and Empathic Understanding in Child-centered Play Therapy
Description: The purpose of this study was to explore how the therapist-provided conditions of congruence, unconditional positive regard, and empathic understanding were experienced and conveyed in child-centered play therapy (CCPT). Although the therapist-provided conditions are considered essential to the therapeutic process in CCPT, a gap exists between child-centered theory and empirical exploration of the process and dynamics of these relational variables in CCPT. Due to the limited research in this area, a grounded theory approach was utilized to explore how the three variables emerge in CCPT. Participants included four advanced doctoral students, all Caucasian females with extensive training in CCPT, and 12 children ranging from 4 to 8 years of age receiving weekly, individual CCPT. One individual CCPT session was observed and video-recorded for each therapist-child dyad (n = 12). Following each observation, play therapists were interviewed regarding the observed play session (n = 12). During each interview, the researcher and therapist watched the recorded play session in its entirety and discussed noteworthy interactions between the child and therapist. The video-recorded play therapy sessions and therapist interviews were analyzed using a multiphasic, constant comparative method. Results of the analysis included a process-model of the therapist-provided conditions in CCPT, examples of play therapists’ internal experiences and external behaviors associated with the presence and absence of the therapist-provided conditions, and a model of the process play therapists utilize to respond to breaks and barriers to congruence, unconditional positive regard, empathic understanding, and unconditional positive self-regard in CCPT. Implications for clinical practice, training, supervision, and research are discussed.
Date: August 2013
Creator: Jayne, Kimberly M.