Intensive child-centered play therapy in a remote Australian Aboriginal community.

Few studies have explored mental health treatment programs for Aboriginal Australian children under the age of 12 years old. Isolated locations, coupled with therapy modalities that are not developmentally and culturally suitable for children who have experienced adversities, exacerbate the typical challenges in providing health services needed for optimum child development. Therapeutic services offered in Aboriginal communities typically follow a traditional delivery of therapy, meeting no more than once a week, or less, as remoteness increases. The purpose of this pilot study was to determine the effectiveness of an intensive child-centered play therapy (iCCPT) program in a remote Aboriginal community with children who have experienced adversity. Pre- and postmeasures, utilizing Goodman’s (1997) Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, were collected from parents and teachers. Semistructured interviews were conducted with parents who participated in the program after the intervention ended. Nine child participants attended an average of 15 sessions in a 10-day format. Total difficulties, as reported by both parents and teachers, diminished after the program. In particular, emotional problems, as rated by teachers, decreased over time. If replicated in a randomized control trial, these findings would suggest that an iCCPT program may be feasible and effective in remote Australian Aboriginal communities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)