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The Theraplay Institute is committed to research

The Theraplay Institute is committed to supporting research in Theraplay. This includes Individual/Family Theraplay, Group Theraplay, and Whole Family Theraplay. We support research in multiple ways:

  • Providing Theraplay and MIM training to therapists involved in research projects.
  • Providing Theraplay and MIM supervision to therapists and onsite supervisors
  • Providing consultation in the development of research projects on Theraplay on in writing grant proposals

Please contact us to tell us about your research or to ask for research assistance, or to learn more about potential scholarship opportunities! More details on the next round coming in Spring 2019!

For more information about Theraplay research or to receive assistance with your own research project, please contact our Research Director, Catherine Tucker, PhD, LMHC, RPT/S


Congratulations to Our 2018 Scholarship Recipients!

The recipients of the TTI 2018 scholarship will be studying Theraplay's efficacy in reducing anxiety in rural Appalachian mother-child dyads.

Headshot Krizova

Katarina Krizova, MS, MFT is a Doctoral Candidate in Marriage and Family Therapy program at Virginia Tech. Originally from Slovakia, Katarina has a Masters Degree in Psychology from Masaryk University in the Czech Republic and a Masters Degree in Couple and Family Therapy from the University of Kentucky. Currently working towards being licensed, Katarina has experience providing therapy to individuals, couples, and families mostly of socioeconomically disadvantaged rural backgrounds. In her clinical work, Katarina specializes on improving child outcomes utilizing play therapy with particular focus on rebuilding parent-child attachment relationships. Katarina completed completed Level One Theraplay and Marschak Interaction Method training in the summer of 2014. She has also focused on gaining expertise in individual and family trauma and is currently working toward becoming a Certified Family Trauma Professional. Katarina's doctoral research is built around systemic conceptualization of childhood anxiety with a goal of developing a specialized systemic treatment for child anxiety in the future. Further, because of her passion for supporting beginning therapists as the grow into well-rounded clinicians, her current research projects also focus on MFT training practices and professional development of beginning therapists with a special interest in international students.


2018 scholarship

Lauren Smithee, MS, MFT is a doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Science program at Virginia Tech, with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is working towards clinical expertise in Theraplay and other forms of attachment-based family therapy with children and LGBTQ+ clientele. In particular, she has many hours of clinical experience with family therapy and intervening clinically with children and anxiety and their parents. She has experience with both qualitative and quanitative methodologies and has taken one research methods class, two classes on hierarchical regression, and two classes on general quantitative data analysis. She also has experience working on various research projects at Virginia Tech related to working with youth and parents. She also has experience with writing various manuscripts for publication and has presented her research at local, regional, and national conferences.


2017 Scholarship Winner

Kelley Munger HeadShot

Kelley Munger is a doctoral student in the Early Intervention program at the University of Oregon. Kelley is developing specialty areas focused on perinatal and infant mental health, family-centered intervention, and caregiver disruptions in early childhood. She is currently involved in research examining trauma-informed intervention in early childhood settings as well as research examining mental health needs in rural China. Kelley also holds a master’s in counseling and a master’s degree in teaching and works with families and educators in a variety of contexts as a licensed professional counselor, trainer, and supervisor. She is pleased to collaborate with the Theraplay Institute to study social and emotional assessment in populations of young children at-risk for social and emotional delays.



Research projects in process are:

Coleman, Rand, PA and The Theraplay Institute (TTI), Multi-site study of children with oppositional defiant disorder.

Hong, Rana, Assessing outcomes of Theraplay based identity workshop in promoting a sense of self- identity among immigrant children of the Indian sub-continents. Loyola University of Chicago School of Social Work.

Lindaman, Sandra, TTI, Multinational case studies of Theraplay for children with Selective Mutism.

Makela, Jukka, Lassenius-Panula, Lotta, Salo, Saara, University of Helsinki Study of 20 Clinical Families.

Siu, Angela, Hong Kong, Group Theraplay.

Schieffer, Kay; Munger, Kelley; and Tucker, Catherine: Evaluation of Sunshine Circles in Head Start classrooms, round two. Grant Woods Education Agency, Iowa City, University of Oregon, TTI.
Schieffer, Kay: Implementation of Sunshine Circles and Theraplay with Young Exceptional Children. Grant Woods Education Agency, Iowa City.
Smith, Sondra; Swank, Jacqueline; and Tucker, Catherine: Study of group Theraplay application in short-term summer camp setting. University of Florida and Meridian Behavioral Health, TTI.
For Researchers