Date of Award

Fall 12-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Counselor Education


Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Foundations

Major Professor

Barbara Herlihy

Second Advisor

Zarus Watson

Third Advisor

Marc Bonis

Fourth Advisor

Erin Dugan


Four hundred fifty-six (456) members of the Association for Play Therapy responded to the researcher-developed survey, the Play Therapists' Decision-Making Inventory-Revised (PTDI-R). The instrument assessed play therapists’ perceptions of the role of attachment in the treatment process, the frequency with which play therapists feel competent to use family-systems play therapy, and the frequency with which they utilize these interventions. Items from the PTDI-R were analyzed using a principal component analysis to assess the underlying structure of six items that addressed participants’ frequency of use of FSPTI relative to their understanding of the attachment relationship. This factor accounted for 45% of the variance between the 6 survey items. These items from the PTDI-R were combined into one variable for use in the analysis of the remaining research questions. Using this enhanced dependent variable representing frequency of use of FSPTI by play therapists, three multiple regression models were built. Of these, the third model had the most power, explaining 65% of the variance in the dependent variable. When examining the relationships between play therapists’ demographic variables, beliefs about attachment, and play therapy practice patterns, significant relationships were identified among all but one set of variables. The results of this study supported the need for required play therapy education that applies family systems approaches to address attachment dysfunction in the caregiver-child relationship. Findings resulted in training and education recommendations to play therapists, counselor education programs, and the play therapy credentialing body.


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