Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Play therapy, Child psychotherapy, Social work with African American children, Ethnopsychology, Psychotherapist and patient, Cross racial, Therapeutic dyads, Children under age 7


This study explored the experiences of play therapists working cross-racially with children under the age of 7 to determine if and how play therapy is impacted by a cross-racial therapeutic dyad. Specifically, this study explored whether or not clinicians altered their play therapy approach, made adjustments to the available toys, if race was viewed as connected to the presenting problem, and if play or interactional style differed based on a child's race. 12 clinicians currently conducting cross-racial play therapy with children under age 7 were interviewed using a fixed demographic questionnaire and semi-structured interview guide. Participants consisted of 2 groups; 5 clinicians who identify as clinician's of color and 7 clinicians who identify as White. The findings of the research showed that client's under age 7 most commonly communicated something about race non-verbally. Less than half of participants directly discussed the racial difference between themselves and their client. Slightly over half of participants did not view race as playing a role in the child's reason for referral. The majority of participants did not make any changes regarding their play therapy approach when conducting cross-racial play therapy. All participants consciously aimed to have a range of figures representing diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds with all their clients but in general did not add or remove toys when working cross-racially.




iv, 91 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2010. Includes bibliographical references (p. 78-82)