Date of Award

Spring 5-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Counselor Education


Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Foundations

Major Professor

Barbara Herlihy

Second Advisor

Ann O'Hanlon

Third Advisor

Zarus Watson

Fourth Advisor

Erin Dugan


The quality of the dynamics within individuals’ early relationships with their caregivers can impact the overall mental health, functioning, and quality of future relationships for those individuals (Aguilar, Sroufe, Egeland, & Carlson, 2000; Bowlby, 1988; Carlson, 1998; Cassidy & Shaver, 2008; Deklyen & Greenberg, 2008; Johnson & Whiffen, 2003; Levy & Orlans, 1998; Ogawa et al., 1997; Renken et al., 1989; Warren, Huston, Egeland, & Sroufe, 1997). Attachment Theory describes the nature, characteristics, and dynamics of the relationship between a child and caregiver, and delineates how an internal concept of self and self and others is created via those relationships (Bowlby, 1988; Brisch, 2011; Levy & Orlans, 1998; Solomon & George, 1999). Assessing for and addressing attachment issues early in life, and helping to establish a secure base for a child, can serve as a preventative measure for thwarting a variety of interpersonal and self-concept issues (Bowlby, 1988; Martin, 2005; Morisset et al., 1990; Rutter, 1987). Several play therapy interventions for addressing attachment issues exist, yet no framework existed to describe how theoretical knowledge of Attachment Theory may be integrated into clinical practice from initial contact through termination. The purpose of this research was to generate a framework that explored and described how play therapists integrated knowledge of Attachment Theory within their treatment planning. The constructed framework may be used by educators, play therapists and families to conceptualize the play therapy process from an attachment-based perspective.


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