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An evaluation of the use of non-directive play therapy upon the development of affective and cognitive empathy in primary aged children who display poor conduct

By January 1, 2015No Comments

This study analyses how conduct and empathy are associated and offers an understanding of empathy from a biological, neurological and psychological perspective. Current research advocates the need for meaningful relationships, authoritative parenting methods and quality play opportunities. As empathy may have biological underpinnings, it is argued that engaging with emotional literacy to create healthy neurological templates is an important feature. A single subject design which employ a mixed methods apporach monitored the development of conduct and prosocial behaviour from the perspectives of teachers, parents and participants. Individual non-directive play therapy was undertaken with four children for a total of ten sessions. The results suggested a positive change in conduct from the teachers’ perspective, however, the participants’ showed movement within their subscales which suggests that they might have benefitted from a longer intervention. The parents reflected similar results to the participants’ which suggests that conduct improved at school but not at home. It may be that children are being labelled with poor conduct as a result of a problem which arises from insecure attachment elationships, confusing parenting styles and limited shared play. Therefore, it seems that although play therapy is developing ideal relationships, boundaries and quality play opportunities where creativity develops confidence and self-worth, perhaps where empathy is concerned, it is the parents that might benefit from guidance to develop their creativity, confidence and desire to be playful with their children and learn to successfully manage conflict.