Skip to main content

Child-Centered Play Therapy for Youths Who Have Experienced Trauma: a Systematic Literature Review


This systematic review examines the literature on the effectiveness of child-centered play therapy (CCPT) for youths who have experienced traumatic events. Two independent reviewers conducted the search procedures, as well as all data extraction and coding. Seven peer-reviewed articles reporting treatment outcomes were included in the review. As the focus of the review was on CCPT, treatment methods were similar across the seven articles (e.g., use of similar materials). There was also some consistency in findings regarding outcomes related to internalizing problems, self-concept, and self-competence. However, there was significant variability in the outcome measures used to evaluate effects, as well as limitations regarding the study methods that impact the overall conclusions regarding the use of CCPT to treat children that have experienced traumatic events. Treatment recommendations and suggestions for future research are discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1


Articles with * indicate those that were included in the review.

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Victor Villarreal.

Ethics declarations

This study did not involve human participants.

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Humble, J.J., Summers, N.L., Villarreal, V. et al. Child-Centered Play Therapy for Youths Who Have Experienced Trauma: a Systematic Literature Review. Journ Child Adol Trauma 12, 365–375 (2019).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Play therapy
  • Child-centered play therapy
  • CCPT
  • Trauma
  • Child
  • Adolescent