A number of staff at Play Therapy Hub have now completed training in Interplay, and have become accredited as Interplay Therapists. This is an exciting new way for our therapists to work with children and their caregivers, focusing primarily on the relationship between child and caregiver. Interplay Therapy (also known as Family Play Therapy) may be used in instances of a shared trauma between the caregiver and the child. This approach is also appropriate when there has been a disruption to the attachment between a caregiver and child, or other circumstances where the family would benefit from strengthening the caregiver and child relationship.

Interplay is beneficial for children to engage in, with parents, kinship carers and foster carers. Family systems function in many different ways, and one family can look very different to another. There are many different attachment relationships which would benefit from an Interplay approach. This attachment-based therapy allows our therapists to support the child and adult dyad to overcome adversity and build safe, secure connection.

How did Interplay Therapy develop?

Interplay Family Therapy was developed and founded by Donna Berry, a qualified social worker and play therapist who has worked with children and families for over 25 years. Donna developed Interplay Therapy as a means of incorporating the core belief that “therapists should see children within their family system for optimal growth and healing within their attachment relationships.” Interplay works with parents or caregivers as a central element to the therapeutic and healing process of the child. Interplay therapy was created to address the most important aspect of the therapeutic process for many families- the attachment relationship between the parent/ carer and the child.

Similar to Child Centered Play Therapy, Interplay Therapy utilises a non-directive approach to working with children and their caregiver. However, the playroom is no longer a space where only the child gets to decide, but instead is a space for the caregiver and child dyad to build connection. This therapeutic approach is also underpinned by humanistic principles, attachment theory and interpersonal neurobiology just like Child Centered Play Therapy, with many of the same theoretical and research bases.

So how does it differ to Child-Centred Play Therapy?

Interplay differs from CCPT, whereby the parent/caregiver will also enter the playroom, instead of just the child and the therapist. The therapy then becomes not just about the child, but about the child and the parent/ caregiver, and the relationship and connection they share. This can help create healing not only in the child, but in the attachment relationship of the parent/carer and the child.

Interplay helps the child and parent/carer dyad to process and reorganise experiences. Our therapists support coregulation, insight into self and insight into one another and the relationship. This support is provided through the facilitation of safety, validating and responding to the child and parent/carers experiences. Interplay works on the reconnection of the relationship which is central to the healing and overall wellbeing of the child.

What am I meant to do in the playroom?

It can feel a bit threatening to enter the child’s world in the playroom. Many parents feel self-conscious and unsure when they first come into the playroom. Some parents/carers may feel out of place, unsure how to interact with the toys. Others may feel as though their parenting skills are being judged or examined by the therapist. You may seek instructions or guidance on how they are meant to respond or behave in the room. However, there is no rule book for this, and no right or wrong way to be in this space. While this can feel a bit daunting, it is important to remember that our therapists are there to support both you and your child. The only thing we want from you in the playroom is for you to be yourself- the rest is up to us!

Just like your child, you will also be met with unconditional positive regard in the playroom. We aren’t here to judge, we are here to provide you with a window into one another’s worlds, build safety in the attachment relationship and support your healing and growth. We want you there because we know how important you are in your child’s world, and how integral you can be in the supporting their development, sense of self and long-term wellbeing.

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