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Thesis: The Efficacy of Individual and Non-directive Play Therapy on Chinese Children with Anxiety Disorders.

By January 1, 2016No Comments

International research has shown that if childhood anxiety is left untreated, it is more likely to result in relapse in adolescence or adulthood, developing comorbidity with other subtypes of anxiety disorder, such as depression and/or committing deviant behaviour such as substance abuse (Lee et al., 2007; Leung et al.; 2008; Kendall et al., 2004; Woodward and Fergusson, 2001; Xioali et al., 2014). Play therapy has been suggested as an appropriate and effective therapeutic approach to meet children’s developmental needs and it has been applied to children with various psychological, emotional, behavioural and developmental problems (Bratton and Ray, 2000; Ray et al., 2001; Bratton et al, 2005; Ray & Bratton, 2010; Lin & Bratton, 2015). Group sandplay and group playtherapy have been used to treat children with anxiety disorder in China (Lau et al, 2010; Shen, 2002; Yen et al, 2014; Zhang et al., 2010). However, the literature review shows that the application of individual and non-directive play in treating Chinese children with an abnormal elevation of separation anxiety (S.A.) or/and general anxiety (G.A.) level is very limited. This study aims to fill this gap and evaluate the extent of an individual and non-directive approach to play therapy on the reduction of anxiety levels of Chinese children, aged four to eight, with an abnormal elevation of S.A. or/and G.A. level. It is a longitudinal pre and post evaluation study and adopts a between-method triangulation methodology. Five children were successfully recruited using purposive sampling. The study results show that an individual and non-directive approach to play therapy is effective in reducing children’s anxiety level. In addition, the secondary outcomes demonstrated that the children were happier, had improved peer relationships, gained better social skills and higher levels of self-esteem and perseverance.