Play Therapy: Small Effectiveness

Small effectiveness: 0.38

What is Play Therapy?

1. Used with children aged 3 through 11 and provides a way for them to express theirhannah-rodrigo-320734-unsplash experiences and feelings through a natural, self-guided, self-healing process.

2. Children’s experiences and knowledge are often communicated through play, it becomes an important vehicle for them to know and accept themselves and others.



0.36 small effect: improvement across all outcomes for play therapy effectiveness (Jensen, Biesen, & Graham, 2017)

0.34 small effect: reduced externalizing behaviors (physical aggression, disobeying rules, cheating, stealing, and destruction of property) in schools (Ray, Armstrong, Balkin, & Jayne, 2015)

0.21 small effect: reduced internalizing behaviors (fearfulness, social withdrawal, and somatic complaints) in schools (Ray, Armstrong, Balkin, & Jayne, 2015)

0.34 small effect: reduction in total problems in schools (Ray, Armstrong, Balkin, & Jayne, 2015)

0.29 small effect: improved self-efficacy (belief in one’s ability to achieve) in schools  (Ray, Armstrong, Balkin, & Jayne, 2015)

0.36 small effect: academic improvement in schools (Ray, Armstrong, Balkin, & Jayne, 2015)

0.80 large effect: improved issues that interfere with normal social, cognitive, psychological, emotional, moral and spiritual developmental tasks (Homeyer, 2003)



Homeyer, L. E. (2003). Play Therapy: Counseling with Young Children. Marriage & Family: A Christian Journal, 6(2), 163-169.

Jensen, S. A., Biesen, J. N., & Graham, E. R. (2017). A meta-analytic review of play therapy with emphasis on outcome measures. Professional Psychology: Research And Practice, 48(5), 390-400. doi:10.1037/pro0000148

Ray, D. C., Armstrong, S. A., Balkin, R. S., & Jayne, K. M. (2015). Child‐centered play therapy in the schools: Review and meta‐analysis. Psychology In The Schools, 52(2), 107-123. doi:10.1002/pits.21798

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