At the UCF Play Lab, our mission is to promote best practices for serving children through the process of play therapy, a developmentally, responsive approach to counseling children through immersion in the community. To fulfill this purpose, we have developed partnerships with local schools to provide play therapy services to children in need, evaluating the effectiveness of this approach through research. At the center, we provide opportunities for training, research, publications, and partnerships with those in the community that share this mission.

Meet the Staff

Dalena Dillman Taylor, PhD, LPC, RPT, is an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida, past president of the North Texas Association for Play Therapy (2013–2014), and the play therapy certificate coordinator at UCF. Dr. Dillman Taylor is a trained Adlerian play therapist and focuses her research on the effectiveness of Adlerian play therapy with children and adolescents who demonstrate disruptive behaviors or academic difficulties in the classroom and at home.

(From left to right) Dr. Dalena Taylor, President John C. Hitt (1992-2018), Dr. Glenn Lambie

Assistant Director of Research
Bethany R. Russell completed her master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling, with an emphasis in Play Therapy, from the University of Central Florida. She is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern, Nationally Certified Counselor, and a Certified Child Life Specialist. Her research interests include Adlerian Play Therapy, therapeutic interventions with children who have faced trauma, and the impact of chronic illness on the mental health of children and adolescents. Currently Bethany serves as the Assistant Director of Research for the Center for Play Therapy as well as the Graduate Assistant for the Community Counseling and Research Center through community outreach. Bethany is an active member of American Counseling Association, Association for Counselor Education and Supervision, Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling, Association for Play Therapy, & Association of Child Life Professionals.

Bethany R. Russell

Assistant to the Editor
Amber Haley completed her master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Syracuse University. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor Intern in the State of Texas. Her research interests include multicultural counseling competencies, the impact of intersectionality on an individual's healthy identity development and mental wellness, and the advancement of traditionally underserved and underrepresented persons from a worldview that sees them as central rather than marginal to healthy human civilization. Amber is an AACTE Holmes Scholar, and is an active member of the American Counseling Association (ACA), the Association for Counselor Education & Supervision (ACES), Chi Sigma Iota International Honor Society (CSI), and the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development (AMCD). Amber currently serves as the National President of the AACTE Holmes Scholars program, and Assistant to the Editor for the Journal of Child and Adolescent Counseling.

Amber Haley

Research Assistant
Kaleb Thompson is a Mental Health Counseling master's student, specializing in Play Therapy at the University of Central Florida. He is actively involved in play therapy research on campus and is a member of the American Counseling Association. He is passionate about play therapy, children, and the LGBTQIA+ community. Kaleb currently serves as an assistant to the editor of the Journal of Child and Adolescent Counseling.

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