Virginia Axline

Axline headshot
Virginia Mae Axline (1911–1988) was born in Fort Wayne Indiana and grew up in Columbus, Ohio. After teaching elementary school for several years, she became a graduate student at Ohio State University where she began collaborating with Carl Rogers.

In 1945, Rogers opened the University of Chicago Counseling Center and Axline served as one of his research associates, developing her own approach to child counseling, grounded in the person-centered principles Rogers set forth for working with adults. Axline’s approach came to be known as Nondirective Play Therapy and later, Child-Centered Play Therapy. In 1947, Axline published
Play Therapy in which she explained her groundbreaking theory of child psychotherapy. In 1950, Axline completed her Doctor of Education degree at Columbia University Teachers College, where she would teach for several years before returning to Ohio.

In 1964, Axline published
Dibs: In Search of Self, which became popular among professionals and parents alike. While the story of a young boy breaking out of his self-imposed silence gained recognition, Axline slipped into a quieter life for herself. She continued both her teaching career at Ohio State University and her private practice, but declined opportunities to be in the spotlight. Virginia Axline was buried next to her mother, father, and older sister.


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