Client Centered Play Therapy : An Investigation of the Therapeutic Relationship
Research questions. The development of the therapeutic relationship in a non-directive play therapy setting was investigated through the following questions: (a) How is the development of the therapeutic relationship between the counselor and the child in the play therapy setting enhanced? (b) How do the core conditions manifest themselves in a play therapy setting? (c) How are the feelings and behaviors of the therapist and the child influenced by each other? Procedures. Data were collected through videotaped play sessions, observations, interviews, supervision sessions, and reflection notes. Four methods of data analysis were utilized in the study. 1. Three case studies were written. Each of the cases was described in detail to aid in the discussion of the development of the play therapy relationship. 2. The verbatim transcripts were analyzed in terms of the core conditions of empathy, unconditional positive regard, and congruence to determine how they manifest themselves in the play therapy setting. 3. The transcripts were reexamined in terms of the process of play therapy. Categories were developed to describe the focus of the therapist responses. 4. The transcripts were examined and passages were selected that would best demonstrate the mutual influence between the therapist and child. Findinqs. Based on the analysis of the three cases and the examination of the patterns that emerged, the following propositions were offered: 1. The activity of the therapist has a profound effect on the development of the relationship. Activity refers to the therapist's ability to be alert to the messages the child is sending and to move the process in response to those messages. It is defined in terms of responses, therapeutic conditions, and the awareness of mutual influence. 2. There is an outline of counselor responses that, when followed, enhances the therapeutic nature of the relationship. The area of focus within the outline includes content, feelings, relationship, underlying meaning, and generalization. 3. The core conditions of empathy, unconditional regard, and congruence must exist in play therapy as in any therapeutic relationship. 4. The awareness of the mutual influence between the child and the therapist aids in the movement through the process of counseling.
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