African American children living in poverty often experience adverse childhood conditions such as overexposure to violence, either witnessing domestic violence or community violence, or direct victimization. These conditions can cause an increase in future mental health problems. In this pilot study, 12 African American children ages 5–9 participated in six weeks of child-centered individual play therapy followed by six weeks of group play therapy. Individual and group play therapy addressed the participants’ problematic behaviors as reported by teachers at an after school program for disadvantaged youth. Findings indicated that a combination of individual and group child-centered play therapy significantly decreased problematic behaviors affecting academic performance and the classroom overall. The combination of individual and group interventions also demonstrated a significant decrease in general worry and negative intrusive thought patterns. The results support therapists utilizing individual and group child-centered play therapy when working with children who experience adverse childhood experiences. Further research is needed to understand the impact of child-centered play therapy as a preventative intervention for children at-risk for developing mental health problems.
Discuss how child-centered play therapy individual and group interventions can be effective in treating African-American children who have been exposed to multiple adverse life experiences.
Provide research regarding the impact of child-centered play therapy as a preventative intervention for children at-risk for developing mental health problems.
Demonstrate how individual and group child-centered play therapy significantly decrease problematic behaviors affecting academic performance and the classrom overall.