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An evaluation of the effectiveness of school based based workshops to enhance teachers’ knowledge and understanding about the contribution of play therapy for pupils exposed to trauma and neglect. 2016.

By January 1, 2016No Comments

This study evaluates the effectiveness of school based workshops on improving the knowledge and understanding of teachers on both the impact of trauma and neglect on the behaviours of their pupils, and the role play therapy has as a counselling tool that can be used as part of supporting these pupils within the whole school context. This is based on the hypothesis that an increased knowledge that the effects trauma and neglect may have on the child’s ability to engage successfully in school, and an enhanced understanding of the theoretical grounding of play therapy will, in turn, lead to increased understanding of pupils’ behaviours, timely referrals for support, and a more cohesive whole school approach to support.
This research study uses a mixed methods approach, combining both the quantitative results of Pianta’s (2001) standardized Student Teacher Relationship Scale (STRS), and qualitative measures of participant pre and post semi-structured interviews in order to triangulate the data to ensure relevant focus on the research questions. The participants are six trained teachers, some with additional leadership roles, who have worked with students exposed to trauma and/or neglect who have also attended play therapy. Results suggest school based workshops are effective in enhancing teachers’ content knowledge of play therapy, and of the impact exposure to trauma and neglect may have on student’s behaviours, as, essentially, these were new topics to staff and provided them the opportunity for shared understanding. However, due to the complexity of the subject, further workshops are suggested as part of a whole school approach, in order to progress understanding. Workshop topics teachers found most useful in increasing understanding of play therapy as part of a whole school strategy were those on attachment and emotional regulation where teachers could relate their new knowledge to practical situations including building and strengthening relationships.