Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Counselor Education


Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Foundations

Major Professor

Christensen, Teresa

Second Advisor

Remley, Ted

Third Advisor

Hulse-Killacky, Diana

Fourth Advisor

McCollum, Vivian


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to learn about African American parents' perceptions of play, counseling, and play therapy. Research interviews conducted with eight African American parents with elementary school aged children offered insight regarding parents' thoughts and experiences. This study explored the question, "What are African American parents'perceptions of play therapy?" In particular, this study explored questions that pertained to African American parents' (a) thoughts about counseling, (b) beliefs about the purpose of play, and (c) perceptions about play as a therapeutic agent in counseling. Analysis of African American parents' perceptions of play, counseling, and play therapy revealed information about two main themes: (a) value of play, and (b) receptivity to counseling. Parents identified developmental learning and the release of energy as two of the main values surrounding play. Parents also indicated that their receptivity to counseling was directly related to specific facilitative factors as well as the lack thereof or impediments to counseling. Ideally, this study will add to the body of research regarding play therapy as well as research regarding multicultural counseling. Both fields have very few previous studies addressing these issues. This study provides practitioners with insight regarding potential clients' perceptions of counseling and play therapy, and may inform clinical work with diverse populations as well as best practices for play therapists.


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