Counseling / Theraplay
Much of Kathryn’s work with younger children and their families is based on a short-term, intensive, structured type of family therapy called Theraplay® www.theraplay.org Theraplay is a treatment approach that focuses on enhancing attachment between parent and child, and in that process helps the child develop a sense of belonging, trust in others, self-awareness and self-esteem.
Attachment-based play therapy such as Theraplay uses playful, attuned responsiveness of caregivers to facilitate a more secure attachment. Because the roots of the development of the self, of self-esteem, and of trust lie in the early years, Theraplay uses engaging play activities to return to earlier stages of development and “re-do” some of those experiences. These activities help restart the healthy cycle of interaction, leading the child to the capacity for emotional regulation, the capacity to understand and empathize with others, and to feelings of self-worth.
Many of the activities used in Theraplay are typical “baby games.” Theraplay divides these playful activities into four categories. In general, children who are more aggressive and controlling need to experience more nurturing and structuring play. Children who tend to be withdrawn need more engaging and challenging play. However, all children benefit from play in all four categories.
It is important to remember that attachment is a reciprocal dance between the parent and the child. Both have certain behaviors and roles that make the attachment process work smoothly. Emotionally healthy parents/caregivers typically provide for the child’s needs in all areas (physically, socially, emotionally)--the challenge comes when the child does not reciprocate that relationship. Theraplay helps parents know how to respond to that resistance. The goal is to help the child experience the “felt safety” that is the foundation of a secure attachment.
Is Theraplay an "evidenced based practice?" It has been evaluated and rated a “promising practice” by the California Evidence Based Practice Clearinghouse for Child Welfare: http://www.cebc4cw.org/program/theraplay
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