Filial Therapy

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 together.

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 time

•  The child gets to lead the play, not the adult.

•  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.


Please click here to download a brochure for further information. (In PDF format - opens in a new window)

The Windfall Centre, Gwalia Annexe, First Floor, Ithon Road, Llandrindod Wells, Powys, Wales, LD1 6AS
Telephone: 01597 829346 Email:

Charity No. 1167777