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Evidence Based Child Therapy

Evidence Based Child Therapy was developed out of an effort to ensure that professionals, parents, and others concerned with the mental health and welfare of children are able to access accurate, peer reviewed research findings relevant to their interests and needs. The overarching goal of this website is to provide greater visibility for the evidence base for play therapy interventions and provide a venue for disseminating research on a global scale.

This database aims to include all available play therapy intervention outcome research, 1995 to present, that is published or translated into English. Outcome research designs included are: randomized controlled trials, nonrandomized control and comparison groups, single case experimental design, and single group repeated measures. Play therapy treatment models represented in the data base include Child-Centered PT, Adlerian PT, Gestalt PT, Cognitive-Behavioral PT, Sandtray PT, Activity PT, Filial PT, and Theraplay©, many of which utilize manualized protocols.

Play Therapy Research Overview

Play Therapy is a developmentally responsive mental health intervention for children presenting with a range of social emotional and behavioral concerns. Play therapy is founded on the developmental and healing properties of play for children. Research supports that play therapy is an effective means for children to communicate and work through their worries. Substantial progress has been made in proving the utility of play therapy interventions to treat a wide range of childhood disorders and difficulties that interfere in children’s normal development. Specifically, play therapy demonstrates beneficial outcomes on social skills and social adjustment, self-concept, language and academic achievement, trauma symptoms, internalizing problems, functional impairment, caregiver/child relationships and a range of externalizing behavior problems including ADHD symptoms, aggression, conduct problems and disruptive behaviors. Play therapy demonstrates beneficial effects in relatively few number of sessions (mode = 10-16 sessions) and appears to show stronger outcomes for children under 8 years of age and when caregivers are involved in treatment, i.e. filial play therapy. Play Therapy research has dramatically increased over the past two decades with over 90 outcome studies examining play therapy’s effects, of which over 40 are randomized controlled studies. Contemporary research demonstrates a commitment by researchers to improve research rigor including the use of larger sample sizes, manualized protocols and procedures to ensure treatment fidelity, and increased use of randomization to treatment groups and standardized assessments of outcomes. As an indicator of play therapy’s wide acceptance and development internationally, 21 studies were conducted outside the United States. In addition, 4 meta-analyses of controlled outcome studies representing over 130 studies and almost 4000 participants have been conducted in this millennium and confirm the efficacy of play therapy with a broad range of presenting issues and diverse populations in real world settings.

Thank you for visiting our website. Please inform us of play therapy outcome research not included in this database. Your feedback is welcomed.