10.1080/15332985.2020.1742851 ">


Integrating play therapy into early childhood mental health treatment services: clinician and parent perspectives

Document Type


Publication Date



Social Work

Publication Title

Social Work in Mental Health


© 2020, © 2020 Taylor & Francis. This mixed-method study explored how early childhood clinicians integrate play therapy into early childhood mental health treatment services with high-risk preschool children (ages 3 to 6 years) and their families, and its influence on parent involvement and the clinician–parent relationship. Interviews with parents and clinicians identified a parallel process with five distinctive phases of the integrative treatment process, all of which heightened parental involvement during home visits. Central to this integrative process was a supportive clinician–parent relationship that influenced parental confidence, empowerment, and ability to advocate for their child to friends and family, which led to improved familial understanding of child emotions and behaviors, natural supports and fewer feelings of social isolation. Interview data were triangulated and results identified specific play therapy interventions and significant relationships between play and other early childhood mental health interventions, which represent a possible need for specialized techniques and clinical trainings specific to this population. Further discussion of the integrative process along with clinical and research implications and needs are examined.

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