Description: This study was designed to determine the effectiveness of play therapy as a method of intervention for children with a variety of emotional and behavioral problems. Specifically, the study was aimed at determining the effectiveness of play therapy in: (a) improving self-concepts of children with adjustment difficulties; (b) reducing internalizing behavior problems, such as withdrawal, somatic complaints, anxiety, and depression; (c) reducing externalizing behavioral problems such as aggression and delinquent behaviors; (d) reducing overall behavior problems, social problems, thought problems, and attention problems of children with adjustment difficulties; and (e) reducing parenting stress of parents of children who were experiencing adjustment difficulties.The experimental group consisted of 15 children who were experiencing a variety of adjustment difficulties and received play therapy once per week for 7 to 10 weeks. The control group consisted of 14 children who were experiencing a variety of adjustment difficulties and who were on a waiting list to receive intervention, and therefore, did not receive any treatment during the time of data collection. Experimental and control group children were administered the Joseph Pre-School and Primary Self-Concept Screening Test and parents of all participants completed the Child Behavior Checklist and the Parenting Stress Index at pretest and posttest data collection times. A gain scores analysis revealed that children in the experimental group demonstrated a significant improvement on internalizing behavior problems. Also, a reduction in externalizing behavior problems and parenting stress was observed. No improvement in self-concept was demonstrated. This study provides evidence that play therapy is a viable intervention for treating a variety of emotional and behavioral difficulties in young children, particularly children who are experiencing internalizing behavior problems.
Date: May 1999
Creator: Brandt, Marielle Aloyse