Background: Anxiety and specific learning disorders (SLDs) are two problems faced by some elementary-school students, resolving of which is a challenge for elementary teachers. The present study aimed to investigate the effectiveness of play therapy on anxiety and specific learning disorders of elementary-school students.
Methods: The research method was quasi-experimental with pre-test post-test design and control group. The statistical population comprised of all the male elementary-school students aged 9-10 years in Isfahan, Iran, in 2020. Using convenience sampling, we selected 30 students and randomly divided them into experimental and control groups (n= 15 per group). The experimental group underwent nine sessions of play therapy (two 30-minute sessions per week), while the control group received no intervention. The research instruments included Spence Children's Anxiety Scale (SCAS) and the Colorado Learning Difficulties Questionnaire (CLDQ). First, both groups completed the pre-test questionnaires, and the intervention program was evaluated in the last training session. As the children could not complete the questionnaires, their parents were asked to collaborate with the research. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was performed in SPSS software version 22.0 to analyze the data.
Results: The mean ± standard deviation (SD) of the post-test scores of anxiety and specific learning disorders were 64.73±1.30 and 41.73±3.06 in the experimental group and 71.64±1.80 and 49.73±3.33 in the control groups. The results showed that play therapy was effective in reducing the anxiety of elementary-school students in Isfahan. It was also highly effective in alleviating their SLD-related problems (P= 0.001).
Conclusions: Based on the results, the play therapy intervention can reduce anxiety and ameliorate the SLD problems of elementary-school students.