The aim of this research was the establish the use of play therapy as an intervention in Special Schools in the Republic of Ireland and to scope out the perception, level of awareness and willingness of the Principals of these schools to incorporate this intervention in their schools.
The design was mixed methods study using an online predominately quantitative questionnaire with one qualitative question and qualitative semi-structured interviews to collect data from Special School Principals and one play therapist working in a Special School.
The participants were the full cohort of Special School Principals (n=72) as established from the data base of the Department of Education and Skills and one play therapist working in the sector.
The research revealed that of 72 Principals who responded, only three reported having a play therapist working in their school. There was broad agreement on the desirability of play therapy and opinions were expressed about the barriers to its provision in the current financial and administrative context.
Play therapy is not available as an intervention in most Irish Special Schools in spite of the openness to it of the Principals of these schools and international research providing an evidence base for its effectiveness.