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THE EFFECTIVENESS OF PLAY THERAPY: RESPONDING TO THE CRITICS

THE EFFECTIVENESS OF PLAY THERAPY: RESPONDING TO THE CRITICS

Abstract

Play therapy has long been criticized for a lack of adequate research base to prove its efficacy. For 6 decades, while play therapists conducted small research studies, critics challenged the utility and efficacy of play therapy as a viable psychotherapy intervention. The purpose of this study was to conduct a meta-analysis of 94 research studies focusing on the efficacy of play therapy, filial therapy, and combined play therapy and filial therapy. Meta-analysis revealed a large positive effect on treatment outcomes with children. Play therapy appeared effective across modality, age, gender, clinical vs. nonclinical populations, setting, and theoretical schools of thought. Additionally, positive play therapy effects were found to be greatest when there was parent involvement in treatment and an optimal number of sessions provided.
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