Theraplay

Theraplay® is an attachment therapy developed by Ann Jernberg and Phyllis Booth in the 1960’s. The primary focus of the Theraplay® model is the parent child relationship, including adoptive parents and foster carers. The aim is to strengthen or re-establish the parent -child bond following loss, trauma or separation. Theraplay® is a useful therapeutic model for children with a variety of social and emotional difficulties, as well as acting as a useful preventative tool to strengthen the parent-child relationship in the face of increased risk factors.

Theraplay® involves emotionally attuned, interactive, physical play, with nurturing touch as an integral part of the therapist, child, carer interaction. The focus of the therapy is based in the here and now, rather than on an analysis of past trauma experiences, interpretation of play or pretend play. It is geared to the child’s emotional level, and therefore may often include games usually played with younger, pre-verbal children.

Within the play the therapist takes charge of all the games, and teaches the carer to do likewise. The goal is to teach the child that adults can be in control as part of a positive, mutually enjoyable relationship, where the parent/carer and therapist work to engage the child in an emotionally healthy, fun manner.

The starting point for Theraplay® is the Marschak Interaction Method (MIM), an assessment of the parent/carer – child interaction. The parents/carers and child are presented with a selection of games aimed at analysing their interaction patterns. These patterns are analysed within four parameters: Challenge, Structure, Nurture and Engagement. The analysis is used to guide the direction of the therapy treatment plan, which is then developed in consultation with the child’s parent/carer.

Further information can be found at www.theraplay.org

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