This study explores and evaluates Play Therapists’ experiences and observations when working with children who have suffered sexual abuse. Specifically, it aimed to identify any commonalities between Play Therapists experiences in play therapy sessions and any commonalties identified across their work referring to six main components, which were:- assessment tools, additional intervention, therapeutic relationship, mediums, themes and additional factors/considerations (as identified by the researcher). Subsequently, upon completion of the study, the overall objective is to create a booklet for Play Therapists to assist and guide them in their practice when working with sexually abused children.
Grounded theory was the chosen methodology for this study. The research methods used consisted of three parts; two questionnaires (demographic information and data collection) and a structured interview, all designed by the researcher. The study sample was made up of eight Play Therapists from within the UK and who had gained their training and qualifications with APAC (Academy of Play and Child Psychotherapy). Independent variables of gender, ethnicity, age, socio-economic status and culture of the research participants were not controlled.
The analysis and findings showed some commonalities existed amongst Play Therapists experiences’ of working with children who have suffered sexual abuse and that some of these commonalities were concurrent with pre existing literature. However, some differences were also identified amongst their work. A 13 part model of play therapy with sexually abused children emerged from the overall findings of the data, highlighting the multifaceted and complex nature of this specialised work.