What is filial therapy?
In filial therapy, the therapist trains the parents/caregivers of the child to become the therapeutic agent. Parents/caregivers are coached as to how to provide non-directive “special play time” with their child.
What kinds of problem can filial therapy help with?
Filial therapy has helped children and families with issues affecting children such as: depression, anxiety, mood regulation, attachment issues, oppositional behaviors, perfectionism, and trauma. Filial therapy has also been proven helpful for family concerns such as: abuse/neglect, chronic illness, divorce, family relocation, family reunification, grief and loss, relationship problems, substance abuse, etc.
How can play help?
For children, play is their natural way of finding solutions to problems, of exploring their worlds, of bringing meaning and healing to their lives. By joining them in their world and speaking in their language of play, you can discover more about their perspectives than by asking questions such as, “why are you doing ___?”
Why is filial therapy used with children ages 3 – 12?
As children relate their emotions, desires, dreams, and goals through the language of play, filial therapy is the developmentally appropriate therapy method for understanding and helping children ages 3 to 11 years. Children under the age of 3 years may not be able to play imaginatively or construct a cohesive narrative of their world.
What is different about a filial play session?
- The child takes the lead, not the parent/caregiver.
- The parent’s focus remains solely on the child, non-interrupted, for 30 minutes.
- One parent/caregiver plays with just one child during the 30 minutes.
- The parent/caregiver discovers how to listen empathically to their child’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. There is no teaching, praising, or questioning.
- The parent/caregiver learns limit-setting to keep the child, parent, and playroom safe, but also to help the child develop responsibility.
- The child and the parent/caregiver transfer these “special play times” into a healthier relationship between themselves as well as into more skills and emotional regulation in their daily living.
What does the parent do?
For the initial session, just you and I meet and I will train you how to begin working with your child. The next session you then work with your child in my playroom for the first 30 minutes while I am present. Afterwards, you and I have a 30 minute discussion, to review your session with your child. I provide coaching and support to help you develop your skills and to help you work more with play themes. The next 4-6 sessions are conducted in the same manner. After those sessions, you then begin to work in 30 minute play sessions one time a week with your child at home.
What happens after a parent is doing play sessions at home?
You will then meet weekly with me to talk about your home play sessions. It is likely themes will strengthen or emerge and this helps you better appreciate and understand your child’s motivations and challenges.
What does the parent learn?
Filial therapy can help parents:
- Become better able to trust their child
- Develop self-confidence in parenting their child
- Enhance listening skills
- Enjoy playing with their children.
- Find new ways of coping with frustrations of family life
- Improve communication skills with their children
- Learn new skills for encouraging co-operation from their children
- Understand their child’s worries and other feelings more fully