Theraplay® is a type of family therapy for both the child and the parent. It is an evidenced-based effective attachment intervention most suitable for families who are raising children that have experienced complex and severe trauma and are parenting severely dysregulated children.
Strong attachment between children and the important adults in their life is believed to be the basis of lifelong good mental health, as well as the mainstay of resilience in the face of adversity. Modern brain research and the field of neuroscience have shown that attachment is the way in which children come to understand, trust and thrive in their world.
Theraplay® is a directive therapeutic approach where the family therapist assesses the child’s attachment to their caregiver by guiding the parent and child through playful games, developmentally challenging activities, and tender, nurturing activities. The very act of engaging each other in this way helps the parent regulate the child’s behaviour and communicate love, joy and safety to the child. It helps the child feel secure, cared for, connected and worthy. The play therapy activities are done with the child, parent and therapist all actively involved.
For children, having a parent or guardian engage with them in their language of play communicates a unique type of love and support, while building a more positive parenting experience. This is often hard to reach during other parental activities.