There is a growing need for corporate employees to be able to manage their stress levels and use stress to their own, and to the organisation’s, advantage. Various literature references show that the damage to the workplace and to the worker costs millions of rands annually. Organisations are loosing money because of employees who are not able to manage their stress levels. Employees often experience stress because of an excessive workload, a high expected work pace, difficult work schedules, role conflict, uncertainty regarding career security, poor interpersonal relationships and unpleasant working conditions and many more. This stress manifests in conflict, depression, absenteeism, headaches, hypertension, alcoholism, drug abuse and more which as a result, impacts the organisation’s profitability due to decrease in productivity. In this thesis, research was done regarding the use of play therapy mediums in a stress management programme with corporate employees. The following research question was formulated: Will the use of play therapy mediums in a stress management programme for corporate employees, have a positive effect on their stress levels? The purpose of this stress management programme was to create greater awareness amongst corporate employees regarding the effects of stress on their lives and to indicate to them how they can go about managing stress to their advantage. The aim of the research was to use play therapy mediums in a stress management programme to enable corporate employees to become aware of, and to manage their stress levels. Play therapy mediums were therefore used to aid the de-stressing of the corporate employees and to facilitate greater awareness regarding the effects of stress on their lives. The researcher applied the Gestalt Theory as theoretical framework for this study. This theory supports the notion of awareness as a tool that can be used by a person to be in control of his/her life. The Gestalt Theory as a theoretical framework emphasises the fact that healthy behaviour occurs once people reach a point where they can regulate the emotional state that they are in. The literature research has shown that when this comes about, people experience a feeling of unity and integration in their lives. It is also concerned with the total existence of a human being. The people are addressed as whole and integrated beings, who strive to gain balance in an ever-changing environment. The Gestalt Theory is holistic and can form the theoretical framework for work with any type of individual and has been used effectively with individuals, groups and in teaching. Research was done within the corporate environment. The researcher developed a stress management programme which was presented to corporate employees. The aim was to establish whether the programme would have an effect on their stress levels and whether play therapy mediums can be used successfully with corporate employees during a training programme to reduce their stress levels and to improve their awareness of the causes of stress in their lives and their reactions to stressors in their environment. This stress management programme served as an intervention because it could enhance the functioning of the corporate employees with regard to their stress levels and also their general functioning within the organisation and in their personal lives. Pre- and post-test results were compared to evaluate the effect of the programme. Play therapy is traditionally used with children but relevant literature and the researcher’s own experience from the research has shown remarkable results in the use of play therapy mediums with adults. The literature as well as the empirical study showed that play itself has a number of therapeutic elements that produce behaviour change. Furthermore play also offers opportunities to re-live past stressful events and the emotions associated with them in a safe and therapeutic environment. The research findings indicated that stress levels improved after the stress management programme was presented to the corporate employees. From the research findings the researcher developed a model as a guideline for a stress management programme using play therapy mediums in the corporate environment.
Thesis (DPhil (Social Work))--University of Pretoria, 2006.