Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2019

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 09/04/2021

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Social Work

First Advisor

Hartley, Carolyn

First Committee Member

Coohey, Carol

Second Committee Member

Conrad, Aislinn

Third Committee Member

Wojciak, Armeda

Fourth Committee Member

Meany-Walen, Kristin


This study examined the use of group Adlerian play therapy (AdPT) as an 8-week intervention to treat children, ages 8-13, displaying emotional and/or behavioral difficulties. The study looked at the effects of the intervention on the parent reports of child externalizing behaviors and parenting stress, and the children’s reports of self-esteem (Social Competence, Behavioral Conduct, and Global Self-Worth).

The study included two phases. Phase 1 was a randomized control trial (RCT), which allowed for comparison of treatment to the waitlist-control as between group effects, pre- and post-intervention. Group comparisons could not be tested due to an inadequate sample size of children. Phase 2 involved the waitlist group completing the same 8-week therapy intervention and looking at all participants as a single sample over time, using three time points: pre-intervention, post-intervention, and one-month follow-up. Results from Phase 2 demonstrated tentative support for group AdPT.

Additional analyses were conducted in Phase 2 examining differences between the two age groups, 8-10 and 11-13, and the mediating effect of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) on the effectiveness of the intervention. While the analyses suggest that group AdPT is effective for younger and older children, the small number of older children (n = 7) limits the ability to draw definitive conclusions. Children with moderate levels of ACEs showed non-significant trends in improved externalizing behaviors and self-esteem compared to children with lower and higher ACEs. Implications for future research, practice and policy are discussed.


Adlerian Therapy, Group Therapy, Play Therapy


xiii, 240 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 145-180).


Copyright © 2019 Rebecca Dickinson

Available for download on Saturday, September 04, 2021