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A perceptual analysis of children's experiences of The Place2Be play-based therapeutic approach : a co-constructionist account

Valberg, Tamasine; (2013) A perceptual analysis of children's experiences of The Place2Be play-based therapeutic approach : a co-constructionist account. Doctoral thesis , UNSPECIFIED. Green open access

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The present study seeks to address issues which have so far been lacking in research: how children who have used The Place2Be (TP2B) individual services in their schools have experienced the service long term and whether they feel that TP2B experience has produced personal change for them. Although this area is under-researched, it is of consequence for therapeutic work with children and for understanding how socioemotional work can be done in schools. The sample consists of nine primary school children (three for the pilot research and six in the main study) from a range of ethnic groups from Year 3 or above who did not have child protection concerns raised about them at the time of the study. Some were reported to have developmental delay or difficultly in one or more of the following areas: learning, emotional regulation, attention control, language, and social communication skills. All were recruited through TP2B school project managers and with the co-operation of their parents. The present research draws on an Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) approach and used both visual and playful interview methods. Accounts from the six children in the main study are presented idiographically, yielding rich analyses of the participants perceptions of the experience and notions of personal change. Idiographic emphasis allows for idiosyncratic meaning-making of the experience to be fully explored. Further, key aspects of the idiographic analysis across cases are identified. These are: the therapeutic play process is highly valued and engendered strong senses of autonomy, control, relatedness, self-expression, learning, relationship building and the processing of emotional experiences. Furthermore, the participants valued the room itself and the play materials inside, and is conceptualised as a space absent of perceived social, gender or cultural assumptions. Three of the participants are able to locate complex processes of personal, positive change. These included increased confidence with peers and parents; increased quality in peer relationships; a decrease in significant anxiety levels; enhanced emotional well-being; and better access to learning. It is argued that the success of the intervention can be usefully framed by Deci’s (1975) theory of intrinsic motivation. That the experience fulfilled the participants’ needs for a sense of competence, autonomy and relatedness are strongly present in the findings of this study. This study supports theoretical principles of therapeutic play and the theoretical model of TP2B, as well as extending understanding about why this is so. TP2B is demonstrated here to be relevant and valuable cross-culturally. Professional implications for TP2B include the importance of secure onward referral mechanisms to ensure continued support for children who would benefit from therapeutic input beyond one year; and organisational conceptualisations of sustainable efficacy. Throughout the present study, play is argued to be fundamental in supporting emotional well-being in children. As such, implications for primary educational provision and policy include the need for greater time and emphasis on a range of children’s play choices in school. Further opportunities to experience autonomy, competence and relatedness are argued to support children’s mental health and well-being and has implication for teaching practice. Implications for EP practice include a greater intersubjective emphasis regarding practitioner reflexivity with relevance to the current EP supervisory process. The current study develops understanding about the use of child-centred, phenomenological methodology and could feasibly be incorporated into core EP practice of assessment and intervention.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: A perceptual analysis of children's experiences of The Place2Be play-based therapeutic approach : a co-constructionist account
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos...
Language: English
Keywords: Qualitative research, Interviews, educational psychology, therapeutic play, children’s views, interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA)
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10018011
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