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An investigation of the perceptions of Christian seminary counseling students regarding play therapy

Dissertation
Author: Andi Thacker
Abstract:
The threefold purpose of this study was to assess the extent to which counseling seminary students' beliefs corresponded to the tenets of child-centered play therapy, the amount of training seminary counseling students received in the area of child counseling and play therapy, and the applicability of child-centered play therapy courses in seminary counselor education programs. The researcher pursued this purpose through administration of a survey instrument she developed. The instrument consisted of 22 demographic items and 23 5-point Likert scale items based on the tenets of child-centered play therapy. The sample was comprised of 206 seminary counseling students from 12 Christian seminaries across the United States: 155 female and 51 male participants ranging in age from 21 to 60 years old and including 5.3% African American, 3.9% Asian, 1.5% Biracial/Multiracial, 3.4% Hispanic, 83% White (Non-Hispanic), 2.4% Other. Multiple regression analysis was utilized to determine which demographic variables were significant predictors of respondents' beliefs regarding child-centered play therapy. Results indicated significance at p < .05 level. Specifically, respondents who reported feeling more prepared to counsel children reported beliefs more congruent with child-centered play therapy, and respondents from the Southwestern and Southeastern portions of the United States exhibited beliefs less congruent with child-centered play therapy. Respondents' reports of their gender, age, denominational grouping, counseling theory, previous training to work with children, parental status, and future plans to counsel children did not significantly predict beliefs corresponding to child-centered play therapy. Descriptive data revealed that 83.5% of respondents intended to counsel children after completing their graduate studies, yet only 20.4% of respondents reported having completed coursework in child counseling; thus, they appeared inadequately prepared to work with this specialized population. Implications for seminary counselor education programs are discussed.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Page

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ........................................................................................................... iii

LIST OF TABLES ......................................................................................................................... vi

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS ........................................................................................................ vii

Chapters

1. INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................................1 Statement of the Problem .............................................................................3

2. LITERATURE REVIEW ........................................................................................4 Seminary Education .....................................................................................6 Seminary Counselor Education ....................................................................8 Play Therapy ..............................................................................................17 Child Centered Play Therapy Philosophy ..................................................26 Summary of Literature ...............................................................................31 Purpose of the Study ..................................................................................32

3. METHODS AND PROCEDURES........................................................................33 Research Questions ....................................................................................33 Definition of Terms....................................................................................34 Survey Development ..................................................................................34 Identification of Population .......................................................................41 Procedures for Survey Sampling ...............................................................42 Data Analysis .............................................................................................43

4. RESULTS ..............................................................................................................46 Research Question 1 ..................................................................................46 Research Question 2 ..................................................................................57 Research Question 3 ..................................................................................61 Research Questions 4 and 5 .......................................................................63

5. DISCUSSION ........................................................................................................73 Demographic Aspects of Students .............................................................74

v

Demographic Aspects of Seminary Counselor Education .........................79 Beliefs Regarding Children and Play Therapy ..........................................81 Multiple Regression Analyses ...................................................................84 Limitations of the Study.............................................................................86 Implications................................................................................................88 Recommendations for Further Research ....................................................89 Conclusion .................................................................................................90

Appendices

A. RECRUITMENT OF PARTICIPANTS FLYER ..................................................92

B. CHILD COUNSELING SURVEY FIRST VERSION ..........................................94

C. CHILD COUNSELING SURVEY FINAL VERSION .......................................100

REFERENCES ............................................................................................................................108

vi

LIST OF TABLES

Page

1. Survey Items Exploring Beliefs Regarding Child Centered Play Therapy and Development ......................................................................................................................37 2. Survey Items Exploring Theological Beliefs .....................................................................39 3. Sample Size and Percentage of Participants’ Responses to Survey Items.........................57 4. Descriptive Statistics of Independent Variables ................................................................67 5. Descriptive Statistics of Dependent Variable ....................................................................68 6. Regression Summary Table for Total Beliefs Regarding Children and Play Therapy ......69 7. Coefficients: b, Beta Weights, Structure Coefficients, and Structure Coefficients Squares on Dependent Variable of Total Beliefs Regarding Children and Play Therapy ..............70 8. Mean Total Belief Scores for Categorical Independent Variables ....................................71

vii

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS Page 1. Sample size of participants in each age group ...................................................................47 2. Sample size of participants’ ethnicity group ......................................................................47 3. Sample size of participants’ home continent .....................................................................48 4. Sample size of participants’ seminary by region ...............................................................48 5. Sample size of participants’ denomination ........................................................................49 6. Sample size of participants’ identified counseling theory .................................................50 7. Sample size of participants’ previous experience working with children .........................51 8. Sample size of number of seminary child counseling courses ..........................................52 9. Sample size of number of seminary child counseling courses taken .................................53 10. Percentage of seminary counseling courses containing play therapy instruction ..............53 11. Number of play therapy courses offered at seminary ........................................................54 12. Number of seminary play therapy courses taken ...............................................................54 13. Sample size of participants’ feelings of preparedness to counsel children ........................55 14. Sample size of participants’ intention to work with children after graduation ..................55 15. Sample size of participants’ anticipated work setting........................................................56 16. Sample size of participants’ intention to participate in seminary play therapy course ......56 17. Normal P-P plot of regression standardized residual .........................................................65 18. Scatterplot of standardized residual and standardized predicted total belief scores ..........65

1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Institutions of higher learning dedicated to the profession of ministry originated in what would later become the United States of America in the 17 th century with the founding of Harvard University in 1636. Initially Harvard College, the university’s declared purpose was to “advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches” (Harvard University, 2007). While the importance of adequate ministerial training exists still today, the academic preparation of ministerial students has greatly expanded and evolved since its humble beginnings. The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) is an accrediting institute comprising 253 member schools located in North America that provide religious education to professionals at the graduate level (Association of Theological Schools [ATS], 2007). Of the 253 graduate religious institutions, 217 are located in the United States (ATS, 2007). Institutions under the umbrella of ATS aspire to “educate persons for the practice of ministry and for teaching and research in the theological disciplines” (ATS, 2007). ATS reports a student enrollment totaling 81,063 within the 253 member schools. Whereas religious education in the 1600s was limited to few areas of study, theological focus in religious education has broadened significantly. A function of ATS as an accrediting body is to approve degree plans offered by schools accredited by ATS. ATS ensures schools under its jurisdiction operate with the core values of diversity, quality and improvement, collegiality, and leadership. Under this high standard of operation, schools offer degrees divided into six categories: master of divinity, ministerial leadership, general theological studies,

2 advanced ministerial leadership, advanced theological research and teaching, and other (ATS, 2007). The division of ministerial leadership includes masters degrees in specialized ministries. The category of ministerial leadership contains master of arts degrees in the areas of counseling, marriage and family therapy, counseling psychology, and pastoral counseling (ATS, 2007). These programs emphasize the importance of training counseling professionals in the areas of theology and psychology in preparation for entering service in an organization, church, or private practice (Covenant Theological Seminary [CTS], 2010; Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary [SWBTS], n.d.) Additionally, many of the theological counseling programs prepare graduates to meet state academic requirements for licensure and practice (CTS, 2010). Academic requirements for theological education in the field of counseling are inclined to include courses in theology, Biblical exposition, and counseling (SWBTS, n.d.). Though the intention of seminary counseling programs is to adequately prepare students for practice within the realm of counseling, of the courses required, few courses focus exclusively on therapy with children. According to the Child Health Care Crisis Relief Act of 2009, 12% of children and adolescents in the United States have a diagnosable mental illness and approximately two thirds of those individuals do not receive treatment. Furthermore, the Child Health Care Crisis Relief Act of 2009 reported a shortage of mental health professionals to serve children and adolescents with emotional disturbances. Due to the current epidemic of childhood distress and lack of adequate interventions, it is imperative that counselors who work with children be adequately prepared to meet the unique developmental needs of their young clients. The difference between an adult’s and child’s cognitive and language abilities has been widely acknowledged by professionals in the field of counseling. Therefore it is prudent that counselors

3 seek to provide services that appropriately match the cognitive and language abilities of children. Meta-analytic research suggests that play therapy is an effective form of therapy for children regardless of age, gender, or presenting issue (Bratton, Ray, Rhine, & Jones, 2005). Despite the emergence of play therapy in the field of counseling, a thorough review of the literature indicated no studies that provided an in-depth investigation into the beliefs of counseling seminary students regarding children. Moreover, no studies I found investigated the beliefs of counseling seminary students regarding play therapy as an effective treatment for children.

Statement of the Problem The problem with which this study is concerned is the inclusion of child training specifically focused on play therapy in seminary counseling curriculum. Due to the dearth of research regarding seminary counselor education programs, Christian education, and the inclusion of play therapy to seminary counseling programs, further research is needed to address the relevance and inclusion of play therapy in seminary counselor education.

4 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Research in the following relevant areas are discussed in this section: (a) seminary education, (b) seminary counselor education, (c) play therapy, and (d) play therapy from a Christian perspective. Faith based counseling can be traced back to 1200 B.C. when Moses, a spiritual leader, counseled the Jewish nation by imparting wisdom to foster spiritual growth and emotional growth (Kottler & Shepard, 2008). Over time, faith based counseling has evolved and is now practiced by mental health professionals in various settings. Peterson (2002) noted several reasons why individuals seek counseling services in a religious setting as opposed to a secular setting. To begin, Peterson (2002) stated that individuals seeking mental health counseling in a religious setting often have a preference for religious settings and also rely on the local church for assistance. In addition, individuals tend to seek mental health care in a church setting due to a lack of availability of area counselors and an inability to afford counseling services in a non- religious setting (Peterson, 2002). Peterson (2002) further stated that individuals who sought counseling services in a church setting reported that they would not seek mental health care outside a church setting. Regardless of one’s reasoning for seeking church based counseling services, many individuals seek professional mental health services from local churches and Christian based counseling services. Often, seminary curriculum does not require students training to be pastors to obtain course instruction in counseling interventions, counseling theories, or counseling techniques. Therefore, to adequately meet the mental health needs of individuals seeking Christian based therapy services; seminary counselor education programs

5 must adequately prepare individuals to enter work as competent counseling professionals prepared to meet the needs of individuals both inside and outside the church. A thorough review of the literature revealed a dearth of information regarding the amount of children engaged in Christian counseling services. Additionally, information was not found which addressed the type of presenting problems with which children present in Christian based counseling settings. However, in a survey of Americans, Gallup poll interviewers found 82% of respondents reported their religious preference as Christian (Newport, 2007). Moreover, the mental health concerns of children has been cited as a major crisis in the United States, with a call for counselors to strive to better meet the emotional, behavioral, and developmental needs of children (Mellin, 2009). Moreover, a shortage of mental health professionals adequately prepared to address the mental health needs of children and adolescents has been cited as a significant concern in the field of mental health care (Huang, Macbeth, Dodge, & Jacobstein, 2004). Mellin and Pertuit (2009) conducted a Delphi study exploring research priorities for mental health interventions with youth. Results of this study indicated that less is known about the mental health concerns of children and adolescents as opposed to adults’ mental health concerns (Mellin & Pertuit, 2009). Further, the authors emphasized the need to evaluate the preparation received by entry-level counseling practitioners to work with children and adolescents (Mellin & Pertuit, 2009). Finally, Mellin and Pertuit (2009) called for the inclusion of specialized curriculum and practicum experience as the most proficient method for improving counselor’s preparation to work with youth populations. Christian counselors are not exempt from this call to meet the specific developmental and therapeutic needs of children. Sisemore (2003) addressed the unique responsibility of the church in the mental and emotional health of children. Sisemore (2003) cited many opportunities which

6 exist for mental health professionals to partner with churches in addressing the specific mental health needs of children (Sisemore, 2003). However, Christian based counselors also require specialized training to adequately address the unique counseling needs of children regardless of the counseling setting.

Seminary Education Theological education in North America exists today for the training of individuals for ministerial purposes. A wide range of theological beliefs and practices are represented within these theological schools. The Association of Theological Schools reported in 2006 that of the 253 member schools, 56% represented Protestant denominations, 22% Roman Catholic, 21% inter/multidenominational, and 1% Greek Orthodox, Orthodox Presbyterian, and Other Orthodox schools (Meinzer & Merrill, 2007). ATS further explained that 65% of the schools act as freestanding institutions, whereas 35% function as essential parts of a larger university or university-seminary combination (Meinzer & Merrill, 2007). Additionally, Fuller Theological Seminary compiled a listing of all degree granting Christian and Jewish theological schools in North America and reported a total of 303 seminaries (Fuller Theological Seminary, 2005). Student body size of ATS schools range from less than 20 to greater than 2,500. Enrollment in theological schools has risen from approximately 65,000 students in 1997 to a total student enrollment of 81,063 in 2006 (Meinzer & Merrill, 2007). Most recently, Meinzer and Merrill (2007) reported the 2006 ethnic breakdown of student enrollment consisted of 67.5% Caucasian, 7.5% Asian, 11.7% African American, 4.3% Hispanic, 0.4% Native American, and 8.5% international students (Meinzer & Merrill, 2007).

7 All degrees offered by ATS accredited schools fall into one of six categories: master of divinity, basic ministerial leadership (non-MDiv), general theological studies, advanced ministerial leadership, advanced theological research and teacher, and other (Meinzer & Merrill, 2007). Of the degrees offered, counseling and similar degrees fall within the category of basic ministerial leadership. To maintain the integrity of educational programs offered, ATS sets forth basic program guidelines to be followed by each accredited seminary. Educational institutions accredited by ATS are expected to actively implement the guidelines as set forth by ATS. ATS delineates that counseling programs fall within the broader category of master of arts degrees in specialized ministry. To begin, ATS determines that the purpose of a program in specialized ministry is to adequately equip individuals to work proficiently within a specialized ministry area (ATS, 2008). ATS further instructs member schools that specialized ministry programs are to meet four primary goals. The first goal is for students within the realm of specialized ministry to have the ability to reflect upon theological constructs. Second, graduates are to demonstrate skill in the implementation of their specified ministry area. Additionally, ATS has determined that graduates are to possess an understanding of the disciplines that are foundational to their specialized ministry area. Finally, graduates are to demonstrate growth both personally and spiritually (ATS, 2008). Furthermore, ATS (2008) mandates that students be educated in regard to the educational goals of the degree program, and are informed about the type of roles that can be assumed as a result of a graduate degree in specialized ministry. As well as the aforementioned goals set out by ATS (2008), each seminary that offers specialized ministry degrees is expected to provide instruction on both theological disciplines and information foundational to the specific area of specialized ministry. ATS (2008) sets forth

8 that students enrolled in specialized ministry degree programs are to have opportunities for spiritual growth, as well as opportunities to gain supervised experience within the specific field of ministry. Accredited seminaries are expected to provide a sufficient number of well qualified instructors and supervisors in the field of specialized ministry. Additionally, ATS (2008) guidelines specify that accredited seminaries develop and implement appropriate methods for selection, evaluation, and termination of supervisors and ministry sites. As a final point, ATS (2008) instructs accredited seminaries that programs seeking to meet standards for licensure or certification of graduates are to conform to the licensing organization’s agreed upon standards.

Seminary Counselor Education Many Christian based graduate counseling programs exist today in North America with the intent to train individuals to integrate theological principles with psychological constructs. As a result of such training, many graduates of Christian based counseling programs have the option to pursue state licensure and are equipped to practice in a variety of both faith-based and secular settings. Such settings include private practice, mental health agencies, churches, parachurch organizations, and school settings. Individuals receiving degrees in Christian or Biblical counseling are specially equipped to evaluate psychological principles as they relate to theology. It is important to note that variety exists among seminary counseling programs in that certain programs emphasize the integration of psychology and theology more than others. Waller (2008) investigated the demographics of students enrolled in Christian colleges, specifically studying part-time versus full-time status, ethnicity, and gender. The author emphasized the unique struggles of Christian higher education in that these institutions often lack financial support and are striving to meet the unique needs of their student populations (Waller,

9 2008). Data was analyzed and compared from Christian and non-Christian universities awarding degrees. Waller (2008) found a higher percentage of part-time student enrollment in Christian universities, as well as a smaller amount of ethnic diversity among the students. Furthermore, research indicated that Christian universities have a lower percentage of female enrollment. The author hypothesized that Christian universities quite possibly require female students to conform to gender and behavior roles, which might account for the fewer amount of female students (Waller, 2008). Additional findings indicated that Christian colleges provide services to an older student population who are more focused on future career expectations (Waller, 2008). ATS (2009) reported that of the 253 member schools affiliated with their organization, 44 offer masters degrees in an area of counseling, marriage and family therapy, counseling psychology, and pastoral counseling. Of the 44 schools offering counseling related degrees, 33 of those institutions have multiple locations offering the same degree (ATS, 2009). Due to a dearth of research regarding seminary counseling programs and for the purpose of a thorough literature review, it was necessary to review seminary catalogs to describe characteristics of seminary course curriculum in the area of counselor education. Among the 33 seminaries identified by ATS as accredited and offering courses in the areas of counseling, marriage and family therapy, counseling psychology, and pastoral counseling; five seminary catalogs were selected for review. The seminaries reviewed were chosen based on the following denominational affiliations, Baptist, nondenominational, Methodist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal. Each denomination selected for review reports being within the top ten most attended Christian denominations in the United States (Graduate Center of the City University of New York, 2001). For the purposes of protecting the anonymity of the participants of this study, none of the participating schools are named. Only schools that elected to not participate in this study are

10 cited as examples of seminary counseling curriculum. The selected schools for review appear to represent typical characteristics of seminaries within a given denomination and thus provide a description of what might be expected from such an institution. Furthermore, only seminaries accredited by the Association for Theological Schools were considered for review. The following section explains the general content of the counseling program requirements and course offerings.

Baptist Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) began in 1905 as Baylor Theological Seminary in Waco, Texas (SWBTS, n.d.). In 1910, the seminary was relocated to Ft. Worth, Texas (SWBTS, n.d.). SWBTS reports their primary purpose as to “provide theological education for individuals engaging in Christian ministry” (SWBTS, n.d.). The school of educational ministry at SWBTS offers a master of arts in Christian counseling. The Christian counseling degree at SWBTS prepares students to work in churches, local health care agencies, the mission field, and Christian organizations (SWBTS, 2008). SWBTS reports that curriculum required for the master of arts in Christian counseling meets the requirements for licensure in most states (SWBTS, 2008). SWBTS requires its counseling students to complete 92 credit hours in the areas of seminary core, educational ministries core, counseling core, and counseling electives (SWBTS, 2008). In the seminary area, core classes consist of spiritual formation, evangelism, Bible exposition, theology, and language studies. The educational ministries core portion of the counseling program consists of classes in human development, research, and ministry. Of the counseling core classes, students must complete courses in theory and personality, professional

11 counseling, abnormal psychology, basic skills in Christian counseling, group dynamics, premarital and marital counseling, three semesters of practicum, and internship (SWBTS, 2008). Furthermore, students select 18 counseling elective hours from vocational guidance, counseling and human sexuality, cross-cultural counseling, family systems, testing and assessment, church counseling, therapy with children and adolescents, counseling with older adults and families, human relations in the home, psychology of religion and personality, relationships in ministry, and an additional elective from the psychology department (SWBTS, 2008). Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Association of Theological Schools (SWBTS, 2008).

Non-denominational Capital Bible Seminary (CBS) in Maryland (2008) was established in 1958 as the graduate school for Washington Bible College. The seminary was founded with the intention of providing a non-denominational theological education on the east coast of the United States (Capital Bible Seminary, 2008). CBS offers both a certificate in Christian counseling and discipleship, as well as a master of arts in Christian counseling and discipleship. For the purposes of this study, only course curriculum for the master of arts degree in Christian counseling and discipleship are reviewed. CBS reports five core objectives of the counseling degree. The first objective is to provide students with Biblical knowledge and theological understanding for grasping the life issues faced by humanity (CBS, 2008). Second, CBS (2008) explains that their aim to encourage both psychological research and theological insight as avenues to understand counseling, and as

12 means to prepare graduates to appraise both Christian and secular theories of counseling. Third, CBS (2008) aims to cultivate students’ relationship with God, and to help students develop relationally. Lastly, students are competently equipped to serve as counselors in a multi-cultural society (CBS, 2008). CBS (2008) offers areas of concentration, church and parachurch ministry, youth and family ministry, Christian school guidance ministry, and licensure. In the areas of church and parachurch ministry, youth and family ministry, and Christian school guidance ministry, students must complete between 59 and 63 semester hours. However to earn the licensure counseling concentration, students must complete all areas of concentration resulting in 90 to 94 semester hours (CBS, 2008). Completion of these requirements prepares graduates for licensure in the state of Maryland. Students participating in the licensure counseling concentration spend approximately three years completing this degree. CBS requires counseling students to participate in courses that focus on the following curricular areas: theology, discipleship, Biblical exposition, Biblical history, study of Greek language, and counseling curriculum. The counseling curriculum requirements include courses in marriage and family therapy, integration of psychology and theological constructs, group counseling, counseling adolescents, career development, guidance counseling, research methods, statistics, development, personality theory, appraisal in counseling, multicultural issues in counseling, abnormal behavior, and counseling practicum (CBS, 2008). Capital Bible Seminary is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the Association of Theological Schools (CBS, 2008).

13 Presbyterian Covenant Theological Seminary (CTS, 2010) founded in 1956, in St. Louis, Missouri is under the guidance of the Presbyterian Church in America. CTS (2010) was developed with the intention of maintaining the integrity of the Bible and proclaiming Biblical teachings. CTS (2010) offers a masters degree in counseling and seeks to prepare students to integrate theological and psychological constructs, while preparing students to work in a variety of settings after graduation. Graduates of the counseling program at CTS are equipped to seek licensure in the state of Missouri upon completion of the program. CTS counseling students are required to complete between 60 and 62 course hours to graduate and do so in approximately two to three years. The counseling curriculum includes emphasis in the following academic areas: Biblical exposition, theological constructs, and counseling. In the curriculum area of counseling, specific course study includes marriage and family counseling, psychological disorders, cross-cultural studies, crisis counseling, counseling theories, counseling techniques, ethics, group counseling, assessment, career counseling, and counseling internship (CTS, 2010). Covenant Theological Seminary (2009) is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and by the Association of Theological Schools.

Methodist Methodist Theological School of Ohio (MTSO, 2007) was incorporated in 1958 in Delaware, Ohio. MTSO (2007) was established to provide individuals with the setting in which to prepare for Christian leadership.

14 The master of arts in counseling ministries at MTSO seeks to equip students to integrate theology, spirituality, and ethical values with counseling skills (MTSO, 2007). The counseling department at MTSO offers three specific tracks within the counseling specialty. Track one is referred to as the pastoral care and counseling track and it specifically equips religious leaders for service (MTSO, 2007). To fulfill the requirements of Track one a student must complete 58 credit hours. The second track offered in the counseling department is that of addiction counseling (MTSO, 2007). Students specializing in addiction counseling must complete approximately 60 credit hours and 270 hours of chemical dependency education to meet licensure in the state of Ohio as a licensed chemical dependency counselor. The third and final counseling track is termed pastoral and professional counseling and satisfies requirements set forth by the state of Ohio for licensure as a counselor (MTSO, 2009). Students in counseling Track 3 must complete 82 credit hours. Graduates of the counseling program at MTSO (2009) are equipped to work in both religious and non-religious counseling settings. Of the courses offered to counseling students at MTSO (2007), students are obligated to participate in courses in the areas of Biblical exposition, church history, Christian ethics, theology and counseling. Of those courses specific to counseling, students study pastoral care, counseling assessment, counseling theories, psychopathology, human development, multiculturalism, group counseling, career development and grief care (MTSO, 2007). Moreover, counseling students in Track 3 are required to complete a 600 credit hour internship gaining practical counseling experience (MTSO, 2007). Methodist Theological School of Ohio is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Association of Theological Schools (MTSO, 2007).

15 Pentecostal Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS, n.d.) was founded in 1972. AGTS is located in Springfield, Missouri and seeks to train individuals to fulfill the mission of the Christian church as set forth in the Bible (AGTS, n.d.). AGTS is identified with the Pentecostal church in the United States. AGTS (n.d.) offers a master of arts degree in counseling and prepares graduates to serve in both religious and community based counseling settings. Counseling graduates of AGTS (n.d.) are prepared to meet state licensure for marriage and family therapy, as well as licensed professional counseling. The counseling program at AGTS (2009) consists of approximately 60 to 75 course credits centered upon three content areas, core religious coursework, counseling coursework, and a counseling specialization area. AGTS (2009) allows their students to choose from one of four counseling concentrations consisting of marriage and family therapy concentration, professional counseling concentration, marriage and family and professional counseling dual concentration, and intercultural ministries concentration. The coursework grounded in religious studies includes training in the areas of theology and Biblical studies. Required counseling coursework includes training in counseling theories, human development, ethics, research methods, psychopathology, and interpersonal techniques (AGTS, 2009). Coursework for the four counseling concentrations contains some variation. In the area of marriage and family therapy, students are required to take theories, treatment, intervention, and practicum in marriage and family therapy, as well as choosing four of the following elective courses in play therapy, addictions, psychopharmacology, post-traumatic stress disorder, human sexuality, counseling diverse populations, and child and adolescent psychopharmacology (AGTS, 2009). For the professional counseling concentration students are required to take career development,

Full document contains 122 pages
Abstract: The threefold purpose of this study was to assess the extent to which counseling seminary students' beliefs corresponded to the tenets of child-centered play therapy, the amount of training seminary counseling students received in the area of child counseling and play therapy, and the applicability of child-centered play therapy courses in seminary counselor education programs. The researcher pursued this purpose through administration of a survey instrument she developed. The instrument consisted of 22 demographic items and 23 5-point Likert scale items based on the tenets of child-centered play therapy. The sample was comprised of 206 seminary counseling students from 12 Christian seminaries across the United States: 155 female and 51 male participants ranging in age from 21 to 60 years old and including 5.3% African American, 3.9% Asian, 1.5% Biracial/Multiracial, 3.4% Hispanic, 83% White (Non-Hispanic), 2.4% Other. Multiple regression analysis was utilized to determine which demographic variables were significant predictors of respondents' beliefs regarding child-centered play therapy. Results indicated significance at p < .05 level. Specifically, respondents who reported feeling more prepared to counsel children reported beliefs more congruent with child-centered play therapy, and respondents from the Southwestern and Southeastern portions of the United States exhibited beliefs less congruent with child-centered play therapy. Respondents' reports of their gender, age, denominational grouping, counseling theory, previous training to work with children, parental status, and future plans to counsel children did not significantly predict beliefs corresponding to child-centered play therapy. Descriptive data revealed that 83.5% of respondents intended to counsel children after completing their graduate studies, yet only 20.4% of respondents reported having completed coursework in child counseling; thus, they appeared inadequately prepared to work with this specialized population. Implications for seminary counselor education programs are discussed.