What is Theraplay®?
Theraplay® has existed for over 50 years and is used around the world.
Research supports its effectiveness as a therapy for children and families. Theraplay® has received the highest evidence based status by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and is included in the National Registry for Evidence-based Programs and Practices.
The main goal of Theraplay® is to create a secure, attuned, joyful relationship between parent (or other primary caregiver) and child. This approach helps the child effectively manage strong emotions, and learn how to cooperate with and trust the adults in their lives. It is ideal for families struggling with a dysregulated child. Theraplay® also helps the child build a healthier self-image.
Theraplay® interactions focus on four qualities that are found in the parent-child relationship: Structure, Engagement, Nurture, and Challenge. Children are very receptive to this approach and often enjoy therapy. Parents are engaged in immediate and positive ways that improve their relationship.
Theraplay® consists of playful, simple activities that are fun!
What types of children and families can benefit from Theraplay®?
Theraplay® has been demonstrated to be helpful to:
- Children with developmental trauma (adoption or loss-related)
- Children who have experienced other types of trauma (abuse, neglect, medical trauma due to illness or surgery)
- Children in families who have experienced high conflict
- Shy or withdrawn children, and children with behavioral issues such as aggression
- Children with challenges regulating their emotions
- Children with attention/focus issues including those with an ADHD diagnosis
- Children with a developmental disorder such as autism spectrum disorder
Experts also agree with the benefits of Theraplay®:
“I highly recommend Theraplay®. It is a terrific treatment for disorganized and traumatized kids.” — Bessel van der Kolk, MD
“As an integrated clinician, I am eternally grateful to Theraplay®. This wonderful technique is deceptively simple, amazingly accessible, and tested over decades. Its application is without bounds.” — Eliana Gil, PhD, RPT-S, ATR
“I highly recommend Theraplay®. Based on principles of attachment, Theraplay® enables parents and their children—of all ages—to again experience reciprocal joy and interests, cooperation and delight.” — Dan Hughes, PhD