Date of Award

8-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Dianne Cooney Miner

Second Supervisor

Susan Schultz

Abstract

Play therapy exists with successful outcomes for young children. Despite the popularity and empirical support of play therapy, it is underutilized in the elementary school setting due to multiple individual and systemic barriers, which are indirectly or directly influenced by school administrator support. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of administrative support from the perspective of elementary school mental health professionals. Specifically, this study looked at how school mental health professionals describe administrative support and how important support is for play therapy utilization. This study is grounded in social support theory which holds that workplace administrative support can be studied through four domains of support: emotional, instrumental, informational, and appraisal. The qualitative study used semi-structured interviews with elementary public school mental health professionals from rural, suburban, and urban schools in New York and Maine. Using directed content analysis, the findings showed administrators generally provided administrative support for play therapy, however lacked understanding of play therapy and the need for clinical supervision. Other findings included gaps in an appraisal system that did not align with their counseling role and a need to show therapy data outcomes because of the data driven climate of the school setting. This study has implications for future practitioners and administrators in providing insight regarding support for play therapy utilization.

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