Practitioner Experiences of Touch in Working With Children in Play Therapy

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Abstract

Issues related to touch in play therapy has rarely been researched or addressed within the literature. An original touch questionnaire instrument was created for this research—and first pilot tested—to capture practitioners’ professional and clinical attitudes related to touch within child play therapy sessions. The data was analyzed based on the responses from the 246 practitioners who completed the survey in full. This exploratory research examined practitioner attitudes related to varied types of touch (e.g., shaking hands, hugging, holding) in working with children and teenagers in play therapy sessions. Additional findings are presented to include practitioners’ concerns of liability about touch, their knowledge related to professional code of ethics, experiences of training in touch and child restraint, and policy practices such as an informed consent addressing issues of touch within therapy sessions. The outcomes underscored the need for practitioners to develop clinical and ethical competencies in touch with recommendations toward curriculums in university graduate programs, and in continuing education trainings including mandatory supervisory seminars.

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