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“When the child plays with toys and other materials and narrates a story with the objects or dramatizes the play the child is distanced from their reality world.  Child and therapist enter into an imaginary world of play together and create an alliance of distance to explore what is created in play.  It is a paradoxical process because we can come closer to the issues that concern us through the distance created by the processes in the play.”  Ann Cattanach, 2003, p36.

“Nonverbal communication is our most basic form of communication, and it is how caregiver and infant initially connect in the infant’s first years of life.  For children in particular, nonverbal means of communication are an important part of any therapy, because children do not always have the words to convey feelings and experiences accurately.” Malchiodi & Crenshaw, 2014 p6.

“Over the past 30 years, a number of meta-analytical studies examining multiple play therapy studies have found play therapy to be effective with a wide variety of problematic issues.  These studies demonstrated that children had improved prosocial behavior and decreased symptomatic behavior.”  Cathy Malchiodi & David Crenshaw, 2014, p180.

“Child-centred play therapy is a dynamic process of relating to children on their own terms, in developmentally appropriate ways, that allows children to express themselves through their natural medium of communication play.  Child-centred play therapy is the most thoroughly researched theoretical model in the field of play therapy, and the results are unequivocal in demonstrating the effectiveness of this approach with a wide variety of children’s problems and in time-limited settings involving intensive and short-term play therapy.” Landreth, 2012 p403

Please find a database, which aims to eventually capture all available Play Therapy research that demonstrates the effectiveness of Child-centred Play Therapy*, at 

You will need to type Child-centered PT into the 'Sort by', 'Treatment model' search criteria.

(*1995 to present, that has been translated into English)

Landreth (2012) has suggested that talk and cognitively orientated therapies are inappropriate for children through much of their development, due to the relative underdevelopment of complex cognitive capacities in childhood.

Child-centred play therapy research spans over 60 years , providing evidence of effectiveness across a diversity of generations, ages, ethnicities, setting and presenting problems.  Ray, 2011 p257

"...working  with children who have experienced the kind of early trauma that affected Connor, Peter, Justin, Leon and Laura requires two things that are in short supply in our modern world: time and patience. ...Unfortunately, however, many of the treatment programs and other interventions aimed at them get  it backwards: they take a punitive approach and hope to lure children into good behaviour by restoring love and safety only if the children first start acting "better."  While such approaches may temporarily threaten children into doing what adults want, they can't provide the long-term, internal motivation that will ultimately help them control themselves better and become more loving towards people."  Perry & Szalavitz, 2006 p244

Cattanach, A. (2003) Introduction to Play Therapy. Routledge

Landreath, G (2012) Play Therapy: The Art of the Relationship. Routledge

Malchiodi, C & Crenshaw, D.A. (2014) Creative Arts and Play Therapy for Attachment Problems. The Guilford Press

Ray, D. C. (2011) Advanced Play Therapy: Essential Conditions, Knowledge and Skills for Child Practice. Routledge

Perry, B. D. (2006) The Boy Who was Raised as a Dog.  Basic Books.

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