Experiential, activity -based, and play interventions in child therapy: A Delphi study

Mona Elaine Bennett, Tennessee State University


The modes of communication between the child and therapist are varied and not limited to spoken communication. Techniques designed to promote participation in therapy and self-disclosure become important elements for practice in child therapy. Play therapy and many play-centered approaches are ideally suited to short-term work helping children resolve psychological difficulties. Therapists of many theoretical orientations recognize that a child's play contains meaningful content and can represent the child's attempt to address the problems of life. Play may facilitate rapport building and help to promote a trusting relationship with the child. Play may allow the therapist to understand the child better, as psychological themes emerge in the content and style of the play activities. Current research describes the uses of play therapy and dramatic play with young children, however, accounts of specific play interventions for older children and adolescents are not as well represented. Research in the diagnosis and treatment of child and adolescent behavior disorders seeks to determine specific therapeutic techniques used in therapy to bring about therapeutic change. This study sought to identify significant areas of consensus established by psychologists in activity based, play, and experiential interventions. The Delphi study was used to examine psychologists' theoretical orientations, clinical strategies, cultural background, and choice of therapeutic interventions. Results indicate an agreement by the participants across rated items on the use of activity based, game play, and play therapy interventions used in child therapy. These findings appear consistent with available literature in play therapy treatment outcome studies concerning use of play therapy as a viable intervention in child therapy. The psychologists endorsed the use of experiential, activity, and play therapy interventions with their child and adolescent populations; however, they varied in agreement on the specific techniques employed. Future studies could seek to further identify the activity based and play therapy interventions and assess which features of this treatment modality constitutes the active ingredient accounting for treatment outcome.

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Recommended Citation

Mona Elaine Bennett, "Experiential, activity -based, and play interventions in child therapy: A Delphi study" (2003). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3107455.