Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Counselor Education


Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Foundations

Major Professor

Paradise, Louis

Second Advisor

Herlihy, Barbara

Third Advisor

Keyes, Angela

Fourth Advisor

Watson, Zarus


The Association for Play Therapy (2009) promotes play therapists’ awareness of personal cultural identity, obtaining continuous cultural knowledge, and displaying culturally appropriate practices. Play therapy research includes studies on working with specific culturally diverse populations. Founding play therapists, such as Virginia Axline, have made suggestions for toys that should be included in the therapist’s playroom. This exploratory survey inquired about play therapists’ perceptions of culturally sensitive play therapy, materials used, and perceived barriers to implementing culturally sensitive play therapy. Members of the Association of Play Therapy with at least master’s degree (n=385) reported on their ability to incorporate culturally sensitive materials into their playroom, most commonly arts and crafts materials. Participants noted less often the use of culturally sensitive board games and culturally sensitive dress up clothes, making them the least commonly used.

Play therapists reported encountering barriers to implementing culturally sensitive materials, such as costs, availability, and space. Having space, specifically a designed play therapy room, was significantly related to the use or availability of culturally sensitive items, such as dramatic play materials, dollhouse and/or materials, and sand tray materials. Additionally, an individual’s status as a registered play therapist was related to the use of a dollhouse and/or materials. Some play therapists were able to overcome barriers through education, personally purchasing materials, and networking. Overall, the play therapist’s ethnicity, education and licensure type did not relate to their use of culturally sensitive play therapy materials.

Play therapists could benefit from training on how to locate, incorporate, and use costs effective culturally sensitive materials. It was clear that play therapists valued continuing education and kept current on play therapy recommendations, indicating that those forums would be the most beneficial avenue to offer information on culturally sensitive material.


The University of New Orleans and its agents retain the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible this dissertation or thesis in whole or part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis or dissertation.