Children's Group Therapy
An evidence-based approach

What is child-centred play therapy?

Child-centred play therapy is a systematic and evidence-based approach to counselling children. This form of play therapy has been in use for over 60 years and has a long history of efficacy in therapeutic work with children. It is well supported by extensive research.


Meta-analytic reviews (a powerful analysis that combines the results of many studies) of over 100 play therapy outcome studies (Bratton, Ray, Rhine & Jones, 2005; Leblanc & Ritchie, 2001) found that the overall treatment effect of play therapy ranges from moderate to highly positive effects. The review by Bratton and colleagues was conducted on 93 research studies, indicated that play therapy was effective across a variety of presenting issues. Non-directive approaches were found to yield better outcomes than therapist-directed play approaches. Additionally, positive treatment effects were found to be greatest when there was a parent actively involved in the child’s treatment.


The Centre for Play Therapy has created a database of play therapy research, as well as other play-focused modalities for children. Please visit their website for this resource.


For evidence-based research on the effectiveness of child-centred play therapy, the following book is available: Child Centred Play Therapy Research: The Evidence Base for Effective Practice, Jennifer N.Baggerly (Author, Editor), Dee C. Ray (Author, Editor), Sue C. Bratton (Author, Editor).

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