Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education

Major Professor

Tricia McClam

Committee Members

Tricia McClam, Joel Diambra, Vince Anfara, Jeff Cochran


While play therapy is primarily used with children, recent research has begun to explore the use of this approach with adults and the elderly. The purpose of this study was to explore and describe in detail the process of Client Centered Play Therapy (CCPT) with an elderly assisted living facility resident through use of a qualitative case study. A single elderly resident participated in 12 CCPT sessions over a period of six weeks. Qualitative data were obtained through observational session notes, pre- and post-treatment interviews with the resident and the facility’s Licensed Practical Nurse, pre- and post-treatment administrations of the Geriatric Depression Scale, and review of the resident’s case file in order to gain insight into the process of CCPT with one elderly assisted living facility resident. Data collected were examined in relation to the play behaviors exhibited by the resident, typical stages of play therapy, potential therapeutic benefits, and the resident’s view of the CCPT approach. Results indicate that the play behaviors of one elderly resident were markedly similar to those of children participating in CCPT and that this may be an appropriate and enjoyable method for addressing mental health needs of the elderly. Implications and recommendations for future research are discussed.

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