This study explores how children experience play therapy group work in relation to addressing their concerns about transition from primary to secondary school and sits within the qualitative inquiry paradigm. A case study approach develops greater understanding about children’s concerns around transition and identifies salient themes and patterns. All participants (n=4 Year 6 primary school children, 11 years) had expressed concerns about transition to secondary school. Research methods included: semi structured interviews, specific data gathering forms and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaires. A five week play therapy group intervention was designed and delivered.
Thematic analysis of interview data identified the children’s concerns and whether the play therapy group had been helpful in addressing their concerns. Parents and teachers concerns about the children were also gathered and analysed.
Participants identified their concerns and shared them within the group play therapy environment. The major themes were: Getting lost, academic work, new teachers and bullying. All participants concerns about transition from primary to secondary school had reduced both in intensity and number following the intervention, indicating that play therapy group work can be a useful intervention in addressing children’s anxieties about transition.
Results were inconclusive about whether concerns expressed by the children mirror the concerns expressed by their parents and teachers and whether there are any common themes. A significant difference was that all of the children were worried about getting lost but none of the parents or teachers specifically mentioned this as a concern. Teachers’ concerns mirrored the parent’s concerns about the child’s lack of confidence and ability to adjust to new situations, including dealing with academic work.