An exploratory study of the developmental experience of novice play therapists

by Aguilera, Mary E.

Abstract (Summary)
The purpose of this dissertation was to explore the developmental experience of novice play therapists. A review of the play therapy training literature as well as the counselor development literature suggested that there are characteristics such as patience, flexibility, and a love for children that are needed to work with children. Supervision was another aspect of training that appeared significant. Counselor development literature suggested that development takes place in stages that are not linear but fluid with trainees moving back and forth between stages during their training experience. There was little literature available. The play therapy training studies were mostly quantitative in nature. There were two studies that were self reports on a training model. The counselor development literature was both qualitative and quantitative in nature. The review of the literature suggested that there is further need for research.

Qualitative research methods were utilized for this study, specifically the use of grounded theory methodology. Seven research participants responded to an email inquiry to play therapy professionals. One participant dropped out of the study after the first interview. The participants participated in three phone interviews. Three of the participants provided optional journals of their play therapy experience. The interview data was coded and analyzed using grounded theory techniques. There were four major categories that emerged from the data. The data suggested that the participants experienced the development of a play therapy identity that includes their past experience and attributes as well as the development of new attributes, understanding their needs, experiencing emotions, developing confidence, and evaluating themselves. Self evaluation serves as a filter that assisted the participants in receiving instruction, interacting therapeutically, and growing through supervision. The research suggested that there is a complex developmental process that occurs.

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Rubel, Deborah; Pehrrson, Dale; Terndrup, Anthony; Blackman, Lorie; Reed, Scott

School:Oregon State University

School Location:USA - Oregon

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:play therapy training counselors of


Date of Publication:04/24/2009

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