Professor Kristie Opiola Receives 2017 American Counseling Association Best Practices Award

Date Published: 
Friday, March 24, 2017

Dr. Kristie Opiola, UNC Charlotte assistant professor of counseling studies, has received the 2017 Best Practices Award by the American Counseling Association (ACA) for her dissertation, “The Efficacy of Child Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT) for Adoptive Families.”

The ACA Best Practices Award recognizes outstanding research projects that further the evidence-base for counseling practice.

Opiola, who joined the UNC Charlotte Counseling Department in August 2016, received the award for her dissertation study in the Counseling and Higher Education Program at University of North Texas, where she specialized in Play Therapy.

As a replication of Carnes-Holt and Bratton’s (2014) research, Opiola’s study investigated the effects of Child Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT) for adoptive families who reported attachment-related concerns. The study evaluated three specific constructs: child behavior problems, parent-child relationship stress, and parent’s empathetic behaviors.

The study was conducted by teaching 50 adoptive parents the skills used in child-centered play therapy to enhance their attachment with their children. The findings provide strong support for CPRT or child-centered play therapy as a responsive intervention for adoptive parents and their children.

Opiola was also recognized in 2015-2016 as an Emerging Leader from the Association for Humanistic Counseling, and received a number of grants from organizations like Chi Sigma Iota and the Group Foundation for Advancing Mental Health. In the past five years, she has been a co-principal investigator and research team member in eight studies regarding play therapy and counseling, and generated approximately $19,000 in grants.

Opiola’s areas of expertise and teaching interests include Child and Family Counseling, Counseling Skills, Attachment/Trauma Studies, and Expressive Arts in Counseling and Supervision.

She received the Best Practices Award at the March 2017 ACA conference in San Francisco, California.


The American Counseling Association (ACA) is a professional and educational organization dedicated to the growth and enhancement of the counseling profession. With 56 chartered branches in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America, the ACA serves more than 56,000 members with professional resources and information unique to specialized areas and/or principles of counseling.  

by: Tayler Greene