Filial therapy - a special kind of play therapy

At the beginning of 2013 I attended an 'Intensive Filial Therapy' training course. I found this fascinating because as a play therapist I believe that parents play an important role, not only in their child’s emotional development, but also as experts on their children they can greatly contribute towards therapeutic change.

 Children boys playing in superhero masks

 One of the wonderful things about Filial Therapy is that sessions are transferred from the play therapy room to the family home and therefore therapeutic skills and strategies can be used across family daily life.

What is Filial Therapy?

Filial Therapy is a special kind of play therapy  in which the therapist trains and supervises parents (or carers) while holding a special play therapy session with their child(ren), with this approach parents are actively engaging in their child’s therapy.

Filial Therapy is a short term intervention (3-6 months) with long-term results.

In Filial Therapy parents learn therapeutic skills and use them in 30 minute sessions with their children, which are held at the same time, on the same day, and in the same place.

What are the therapeutic skills?

  • Structuring skills

  • Emphatic skills

  • Child- centred imaginary play skills

  • Limit setting skills

Parents are taught to apply these 4 skills in play sessions and then the same skills can be transferred to everyday activities.

Why Filial Therapy?

Filial Therapy has been successfully used with families experiencing difficulties such as divorce, loss, chronic medical illnesses or injuries and attachment problems. It is particularly useful within families where children display a wide range of emotional, social and behavioural problems. Filial Therapy is also used to help foster parents understand their children better and bond with them more.

How do parents and children benefit from Filial Therapy?

Filial Therapy is a non-directive and child-centred approach. It helps to build a trustful relationship between parents and their children. Parents are the experts on their children and their presence in play sessions contributes towards therapeutic change.

Over time, children trust their parents more and are able to express their feelings in more constructive ways and therefore their negative behaviour reduces. Parents become more confident in their parental skills and they are able to use the 4 learnt skills in their daily family life.

Filial Therapy also teaches parents how to enjoy playing with their children and how to give them positive attention.

Filial Therapy not only brings a positive change in the parent-child relationship but also helps to create a positive attachment in the whole family unit.

Filial Therapy service is available now at the Children's Therapies clinic in Putney. For more information please contact our play therapist Karolina Gburczyk on 020 8673 7930.

Lizz Summers

Voice & Presentation Skills Coach