top of page

Filial Therapy- Play Therapy with the Parents

What is Filial Therapy?

Mother and Daughter
Mother and Daughter Hugging
Father with his Son
Mother and Son

*   Filial therapy is a special kind of play therapy. Literally thousands of families have been helped by this method developed by Bernard and Louise Guerney in the 1960s. It is a unique therapeutic method that involves parents and caregivers directly as the agents of therapeutic change.

*   Many Play Therapists practice some form of Child-Centered or Non-Directive Play Therapy. Filial therapy is a closely related form of Child-Centered Play Therapy. In traditional Child-Centered Play Therapy, the trained play therapist meets with parents or caregivers first and then works on his/her own with the child for a number of weeks or months. Every four weeks or so the Play Therapist meets with the parents to give feedback and discuss the child's needs and progress by focusing on the themes and meaning of the child's play rather than the details. The child's play sessions are private and the child forms an attachment relationship with the Play Therapist who is deeply listening to the child's expressed concerns during the non-directive play sessions.

*   In Filial therapy, parents are trained to conduct non-directive play sessions, usually referred to as "special playtime", with their child. The training process is positive and playful. Subsequently, the parent conducts these non-directive play sessions with their child under the supervision of the Therapist, thus deeply hearing the child's concerns and consequently strengthening the attachment with their child.

*   Filial Therapy usually takes 3-6 months to complete and may last longer with follow-up sessions. It is suitable for children between the ages of 3 and 12 years old. Filial therapy is a very flexible model. As long as the essentials are taught to parents and the parents follow through, it can be adapted in various ways to meet the circumstances.

*   Filial Therapy has been used successfully with many children and family problems: oppositional behaviors, anxiety, depression, perfectionism, abuse/neglect, single parenting, traumatic events, attachment/adoption/ foster care, relationship problems, divorce, family substance abuse, family reunification, chronic illness, and others

bottom of page