“It is not enough to love the children, it is necessary for them to be aware that they
are loved.” – St John Bosco.
Filial Therapy was developed from the Play Therapy model to help parents and carers build more satisfying and healing relationships with their children. Like Play Therapy, Filial Therapy is effective for a wide range of difficulties.
It is especially beneficial in building strong attachment relationships, particularly in adoption and foster care. It is a flexible approach easily adapted to the individual needs of the family. The therapist works directly with the parents, supporting and empowering them in new ways to interact with their child and building their confidence as they practice their new knowledge at home.
Children respond to having the parent or carer’s undivided attention for a significant period of time, and parents and carers find renewed joy in their relationship with their child.
“The best toy for a young child is the invested, caring adult – someone to pay attention, to engage and to play with the child using words, song, touch and smile.” – Bruce Perry.
The Nurturing Families Programme
The Hand in Hand Programme
The Hand in Hand Programme is a relational approach to meeting some of the challenges of parenting children and young people on the Autistic Spectrum. The programme is based on the tenets of Filial Therapy with a focus on Attachment and Bonding but takes into account the very specific sensory and neurological factors associated with autism.
Hand in Hand offers families who have received diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Conditions for their children the opportunity to develop therapeutic play skills to use in their interactions. This approach encourages a non-directive and contingent stance on the part of the adult in their engagements with their children. When caregivers have developed their skills and confidence the therapist supports them in setting up and then observing them in special therapeutic play sessions at home between caregiver and child, giving feedback on their skills development and providing support with strategies for effective parenting.
Extensive research has highlighted that a child-led and attuned approach underpins better prosocial behaviour and overall developmental outcomes for autistic children (e.g. Siller and Sigman, 2002). Additional contributions through psycho-education on the facets of autism alongside ongoing parental support offers families a robust support system at what can be a very confusing and challenging time following a diagnosis.