Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Counselor Education


Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Foundations

Major Professor

Christensen, Teresa

Second Advisor

Herlihy, Barbara

Third Advisor

McCollum, Vivian


This exploratory research was designed to elucidate elementary school children's perceptions of the process of counseling with school counselors who utilize play therapy techniques. Seven elementary school children who were engaged in a counseling relationship with a school counselor who utilized play therapy techniques were interviewed three different times in person. All three rounds of interviews were audio taped and transcribed for the purpose of data analysis. Throughout each round of data collection, coding procedures, mainly open, axial, and selective, were utilized to extract and organize emergent themes. The data yielded three main categories: (a) therapeutic relationship, (b) emotional expressiveness, and (c) creative play, which included properties and sub-properties. To verify findings, expert consultation, member checks, and rival explanations were sought. Findings are discussed, followed by a conceptual framework of the counseling process. Methods to address potential limitations are presented, followed by a discussion of implications for counselor educators, play therapists, and school counselors. Last, suggestions for further research are offered.


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