What is the Experience of Trained Non-directive Play Therapists using the Western Model of Non-directive Play Therapy on a Kenyan Child?

  • Mary Otieno

Student thesis: Phd


In order to establish the appropriateness of the western model of non-directive play therapy within the Kenyan context, the study explored the experiences of trained play therapists using the western model of non-directive play therapy in their therapeutic work with a Kenyan child. The study used qualitative methodology with thematic analysis where six trained non-directive play therapists with more than two years’ practical experience participated. The participants comprised of five females and one male aged between 40 to mid-50 years were interviewed using semi-structured interviews while the interviews were tape recorded prior to their transcription. Data analysis was done using thematic analysis guidelines and the findings generated two main overarching themes stating that the Western model of Non-directive play therapy used in a therapeutic setting with a Kenyan child is in a large scale ‘appropriate’ (effective) while in some cases the same participants found the model ‘inappropriate’ (not effective) based on the Kenyan cultural beliefs and practices. Within the two main overarching themes, emanated seven candidate themes perceived by my participants to be indicators of the appropriateness of the western model of non- directive play therapy within the Kenyan context, in which the therapists’ experiences revealed that in their therapeutic work with a Kenyan child using this model, the child developed a sense of ‘empowerment’; ‘freedom’ and at the same time became ‘expressive’ through the use of play. Meanwhile the inappropriateness of western model of non - directive play therapy in the Kenyan context were mainly perceived to be caused by ‘ lack of awareness’ of the model’s existence and/or importance by most Kenyan communities, ‘cultural barriers’ particularly with regard to the use of ‘play’ and ‘non- direction’ in this model, Kenya’s ‘directive education system’ as opposed to the western non-direction and ‘social economic status’ of most Kenyans leading to access issues were also experienced as contributors to the models in appropriateness within the Kenyan context.
Date of Award1 Aug 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorTerry Hanley (Supervisor) & Elizabeth Ballinger (Supervisor)


  • Play Therapist
  • Play
  • Kenyan Child
  • Non-Directive Play Therapy

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