The number of children diagnosed with autism continues to be on the rise (Hess, 2009),and professionals strive to gain more knowledge concerning treatment. A review of the literature reveals the use of play as 1 type of intervention for children with autism.Although there is a great deal of literature on the behavioral approaches to working with children diagnosed with autism, there is limited research on the use of child-centered play therapy (CCPT). CCPT is an approach that was designed to work with children dealing with a variety of problems. The present study used a phenomenological design to explore the experiences of play therapists utilizing CCPT with children diagnosed with autism. Ten interviews were conducted with Registered Play Therapists and Registered Play Therapist-Supervisors who utilize CCPT with children diagnosed with autism. The data collected through the interviews was organized and analyzed through NVivo software. The data analysis indicated 3 major themes and 8 subthemes. The 10participants expressed that although there are challenges working with children diagnosed with autism, the benefits were primarily the environment, the therapeutic relationship, and their role as the therapists when utilizing CCPT. The participants found that these aspects of CCPT had the greatest influence in meeting the needs of children diagnosed with autism. Additionally, the therapists experienced the involvement of parents being of greater value with children diagnosed with autism compared with the involvement of parents with other clients.
Provide results of a phenomenological study of the experiences of Registered Play Therapists/Supervisors who work with children diagnosed with autism.
Provide an understanding of the impact these therapists' experiences can have on the profession of play therapy and on the types of interventions used with this population.
Readers will better understand the characteristics of child-centered play therapy that attribute to these participants choosing to continue utilizing this approach with children diagnosed with autism.