Play therapy training among school psychology, social work, and school counseling graduate training programs

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This study examined play therapy training across the nation among school psychology, social work, and school counseling graduate training programs. It also compared current training to previous training among school psychology and school counseling programs. A random sample of trainers was selected from lists of graduate programs provided by National Association of School Psychologists, Council on Social Work Education, and American School Counselor Association. Eighty three graduate trainers completed a survey regarding play therapy training. Results indicated that graduate trainers view play therapy positively, with school counselor trainers expressing the most favorable attitude toward play therapy. Trainers who expressed more positive attitudes about play therapy were generally more likely to offer play therapy training. Overall, the majority of programs reported offering some sort of training in play therapy, with school counseling trainers indicating the highest percentage of programs offering play therapy instruction. When compared to previous research on school counseling trainers, results indicated a significant increase in the frequency of offering play therapy training between 1999 and 2007. When compared to previous research on school psychology trainers, results revealed a trend suggesting that the frequency of offering play therapy training increased between 1997 and 2007. An examination of the type of play therapy training revealed that very few programs required a course in play therapy or provided the number of training hours needed to meet standards set by Garry Landreth (2001) or Association for Play Therapy (2006). Main barriers to play therapy training included lack of faculty with play therapy expertise and lack of time within the curriculum. In addition, school psychology trainers reported research-based and philosophical reservations, and social work trainers reported funding to be a barrier. Findings suggest that as the play therapy research base has grown, there has been some growth in offering play therapy training. However, the format and amount of training offered does not adequately prepare graduate students to use play therapy with competence. More substantial training and field experience is required to train practitioners to meet the needs of children through play therapy.
Dissertation completed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Doctor of Psychology degree in School Psychology at Alfred University, Alfred, NY.
Play therapy