Theraplay® is a child and family therapy for building and enhancing attachment, self-esteem, trust in others, and joyful engagement. It is based on the natural patterns of playful, healthy interaction between parent and child and is personal, physical, and fun. Theraplay interactions focus on four essential qualities found in parent-child relationships: Structure, Engagement, Nurture, and Challenge. Theraplay sessions create an active, emotional connection between the child and parent or caregiver, resulting in a changed view of the self as worthy and lovable and of relationships as positive and rewarding.
Sessions consist of games and activities that provide the child with experiences of each of these 4 essential qualities and over time these experiences help to change the child’s view of themselves, others and the world.
I am a Certified Foundational Theraplay Practitioner and have been using the Theraplay principles and techniques in sessions with parents/carers and their child for 2 years. I mainly use these techniques with adoptive families and I find it a powerful therapy to help parents to support their child to heal from the trauma they experienced in their early years.
Benefits of Theraplay based therapy:
- It uses play to help children accept experiences that they would otherwise avoid/resist
- As the parent is actively involved in the session this builds their understanding of the child’s needs; helps them learn and practice new skills; facilitates the parent-child relationship in the moment
- It directly builds the attachment with the parent
- It gives a child repeated experiences of being regulated and contained
- It’s fun!
- Once the parent feels confident then the games can be done at home, so therapy can continue at home