Filial therapy is a unique therapeutic method which
evolved from the Play Therapy model in the 1960's. The
Filial model has been a strategic approach in helping
families build and strengthen attachment relationships
in both the UK and US. Filial Therapy strives to enhance
a child-parent relationship by empowering the parent
with new and innovative ways to interact with their child.
This process involves caregivers directly as the agents
of therapeutic change, having been instructed and then
supervised by experienced therapists trained in this
mode of work.
In the Filial Therapy process, parent/carers are shown
the skills to conduct non-directive play sessions with
their child or children. The training process itself
is supportive and empowering for parent/carers. It is
important to note that caregivers will not be
doing therapy with their child. Rather, they will learn
skills to help build a closer relationship with their
child through the experience of special play sessions
Filial therapy is a flexible approach and can be adapted
to the individual needs of a family. There are core essentials
which must be taught to parents and followed through,
but it can be tailored to meet a wide range of circumstances.
Filial Therapy has been used successfully in response
to concerns such as the effects of abuse, loss and trauma,
aggression, anxiety, depression, perfectionism, family
breakdown, the impact of disability, autism and chronic
illness, and of course establishing attachment relationships
in adoption and foster care.
What makes Filial Therapy effective? The following core
aspects of the process:
The child experiences having the parent/carer's
focus without distraction for a significant period of
The child gets to lead the play, not the
The parent/carer learns how to respond
empathically to their child's feelings, thoughts and
actions without questioning, teaching or praising. (Most
adults find this very strange at first.)
The use of empathic listening and reflection
ensures the child of the adult' s attunement and engagement
The parent/carer learns to set limits on
the child's behaviour in session. This method of setting
limits actually returns the responsibility to the child.
Parent/carers learn to generalise these
skills to their everyday lives .
Filial Therapy is an empirically supported therapy,
with nearly 50 years of research. Three- and five-year
follow up studies of the original model of Filial Therapy
have shown that improvements in child behaviour, parental
empathy, parent skills, parent stress, and parent satisfaction
have been maintained.
here to download a brochure for further information. (In PDF format - opens
in a new window)