What is Filial Therapy?
Filial Therapy was created by Drs. Bernard and Louise Gurney. It
is a psychoeducational intervention in which a therapist trains parents
or other caregivers to hold special child-centered play sessions with
their own children. Parents learn beginning expressive and listening
play therapy skills and effective limit setting techniques.
Filial Therapy can lead to improved parent-child relationships and
successful resolution of a variety of child and/or family problems.
Filial Therapy begins with a parent training phase. Following the
initial training phase, therapist supervised parent-child play sessions
are held in the therapist's office. During the next phase, the play
sessions are held at home with the parents who periodically process the
sessions with the therapist. Eventually, child-directed play sessions
are phased into "special times" as the problems are resolved.
- structuring play sessions
- empathic listening
- child-centered imaginary play
- limit setting
- help children recognize and express feelings appropriately
- give children an opportunity to be heard and understood by their
- help children develop and practice problem solving skills and
- increase children's trust and confidence in their parents
- increase self confidence and self esteem
- reduce or eliminate negative behaviors
- promote open communication
- promote appropriate child development
- increase parents' understanding and acceptance of their
- assist parents in developing communication and limit setting
- decrease frustration levels in families
- promote the importance of play in children's lives
- provide a non-threatening supportive environment for parents
VAn Fleet, R. (1994). Filial Therapy: Strengthening Parent-Child
RElationships Through Play. Sarastosa, Florida: Professional Resource