Filial Therapy is a psycho educational approach that combines family therapy and play therapy with the goals of strengthening the parent-child relationship and overcoming or preventing problems that might otherwise lead to destructive family behaviours, including abuse and violence. Developed in the United States in the 1960's as an intervention for families of children aged 3-12, clinical research has shown that filial therapy is a very effective tool for children with social, emotional and behavioral difficulties.
In Filial Therapy, the parent becomes the primary change agent as they learn to conduct child-centred play sessions with their own children under the supervision of a trained filial therapist.
- Assessment of parent's current interactions. The therapist observes parents play with their child.
- If thought necessary, the therapist provides groundwork in the form of group workshops to raise parental awareness of issues around attachment, the emotional connection they have with their children and ways they can keep their children emotionally safe.
- Therapist explains filial therapy in detail, answering parent's questions and engaging them as partners in the process.
- The therapist demonstrates the skills needed as parents watch and then fully discusses the play demonstration
2. Empathetic Listening, 3. Child-centred Imaginary Play and 4. Limit Setting.
- The parent begins play sessions under the supervision with the therapist. The therapist observes the play session and discusses the session with the parents afterward.
- Because the process not only strengthens the parent-child relationship, but raises the parent's awareness and provides the opportunity for the parent to challenge and change inter-generational negative patterns of parenting.
- It allows for regular self-reflection
- The opportunity to thoroughly practice and master skills taught
- Follow up in the community is provided as an integral part of the process to support transfer of parenting skills into daily life
- The process is supported at every stage by a trained filial therapist
Multicultural Adaptability of Filial Therapy
Filial therapy has been used with families from diverse ethnic backgrounds. In filial therapy the parents play a large role in understanding their children's play themes, lessening the likelihood of cultural misinterpretation. The non-directive play methods used in filial therapy allow children to play out their concerns within their own cultural context.
Outcomes for Parents
- Increases parents' understanding of their children's feelings, attitudes and behaviours.
- Helps children to become more aware of their feelings and how to communicate and regulate them.
- Learn the importance of play, imagination and emotions,
- Develop self-confidence as parents.
- increase feelings of warmth and trust towards their child.
- Reduces the frustrations related to parenting.
- Learn new skills for positive child rearing that can be transferred into daily living.
- Reduces the utilisation of professional services.
Outcomes for Children
- Develop a better understanding of their feelings.
- Express their feelings so their needs are met more fully.
- Develop problem-solving skills.
- Increase their trust in their parents.
- Work through conflicts and be heard.
- Reduces negative behaviours.
- Increase their self-confidence.