I recently had the pleasure of attending a training by Risë VanFleet, PhD on Filial Therapy, and I came away very excited about the method. Developed by Drs. Bernard and Louise Guerney, Filial Therapy is an approach that helps to facilitate change in the child and family through strengthening the relationships between parents and children.
When children are having behavioral or emotional difficulties, play therapy is often recommended as a developmentally appropriate way to work with children in a therapeutic setting. The use of play allows the therapist to learn more about how children see their world, how they learn, how they express their feelings, and allows for growth in mental and social capacities. Many types of play therapy include the therapist working directly with the child, which can have many benefits. In Filial Therapy, the therapist teaches the parent how to conduct play sessions with their children in a certain way, thus including them as an integral part of the process.
The benefits of such an approach are numerous. First, it empowers parents who have felt uncertain about how to help their children. Because parents already have a history and bond with their children, they can better report on changes in the play and interpretation of what transpires in the sessions. In addition, the bond between parent and child is strengthened, which allows the child to use skills after therapy ends and prevents many future problems. Additionally, in this model, all children are included in the process, which allows siblings the opportunity to express how they feel rather than focusing on just one child.
If you are considering therapy for your child, you may want to ask a clinician in your area about Fililal Therapy. If you are want to know more about how Filial Therapy or other types of play therapy might help your family, please give me a call. I look forward to speaking with you!
Emily Herber McLean, LPC is a child and family therapist at The Center for Psychological Services. To learn more about her practice, visit www.centerpsych.com.