Filial Therapy

Filial therapy is an approach to therapy that develops the parent-child relationship and emphasizes the strengths inherent in that union. Filial therapy can be used as a preventive measure to enhance a well functioning family unit or as an intervention to solve problems and alleviate difficulties. In Filial Therapy parents learn to play more effectively with their children and increase their understanding of how play expresses children?s concerns, interests, fears and joys. Initially, the therapist, parent and child have play sessions together. The therapist models and explains a child-centered play style that allows the child to be more open and spontaneous. Eventually the parent conducts the play sessions and the therapist serves as a coach. The sessions start in the office and then the parent conducts them at home and uses the ?coach? as a consultant to discover more about the messages and themes in the child?s play. There are several advantages to this method. Parents know their children better than any therapist could because they live with them. The child is eager for the parent?s attention and approval. Strengthening the overall relationship has ?ripple effects? in the family and can enhance areas that were not necessarily seen as a concern. When parents and children play together comfortably they appreciate each other and feel good about who they are. Ultimately, play is fun and is its own reward. Filial Therapy is not endless. It has a demonstration phase, a training phase, a supervision phase and a gradual ending phase. The usual duration is generally twenty weekly sessions.

David Pavlick, M.S., L.C.S.W. Director of Clinical Services

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