Defining Therapeutic Playgroups: Key Principles of Therapeutic Playgroups from the Perspective of Professionals

Jodie Armstrong, Catherine Elliott, John Wray, Emma Davidson, Joanne Mizen, Sonya Girdler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: Therapeutic playgroups provide a unique service for children with developmental delays and disabilities and their families, delivering tailored play-based therapy while facilitating parent support and community connections. Despite the prevalence of playgroups within the disability sector there is a paucity of research defining the key principles of therapeutic playgroups and their perceived benefits. Taking the perspectives of early intervention professionals this study sought to provide a definition of therapeutic playgroups and identify the “active ingredients” of therapeutic playgroups for children with developmental delays and disabilities. Method: Focus group methodology was used to gather perspectives of 40 professionals with experience facilitating playgroups for children with developmental delays and/or disabilities and their families. Results: Findings highlighted the complex nature of therapeutic playgroups which require an interplay of five “active ingredients” to be perceived as beneficial: facilitator and participant characteristics; playgroup structural characteristics, information provision, administration and logistical considerations. Conclusion: Therapeutic playgroups have distinct practice principles that distinguish them from other playgroups and therapeutic models for children with delays and disabilities and their families. This paper provides a definition of therapeutic playgroups, outlining the core practice principles for therapeutic playgroups, an essential step in developing and evaluating the effectiveness of therapeutic playgroups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1029–1043
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Volume29
Issue number4
Early online date12 Oct 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020

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