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Theraplay

Theraplay

Theraplay uses practitioner guidance to create playful and caring child-adult interactions that foster joyful shared experiences. These activities build attunement and understanding of each other. Replicating these early relationship experiences is proven to lead to secure attachment. The interactions are personal, physical, and fun. We believe this is a natural way for everyone to experience the healing power of being together.

Our theraplay sessions typically involve structured activities and play that are designed to promote positive interactions, nurture secure attachments, and improve your child's emotional well-being. The goal is to create a safe and supportive environment where children can develop a sense of trust and security with their caregivers.

4 Essential Qualities of a Parent-Child Relationship

Structure

The adult — the leader in the relationship — creates organization and predictability for the child which communicates safety.

Nurture

The adult provides caring that can calm and soothe the child in a manner that makes them feel good physically and emotionally.

Engagement

The adult is present in a manner that the child experiences being seen, heard, felt, and accepted.

Challenge

The adult supports the child in the acquisition and mastery of new skills, enhancing the child’s sense of competence and confidence.

What's the difference between theraplay and play therapy?

Theraplay and play therapy are both therapeutic approaches that involve play-based activities, but they have distinct differences in their goals, techniques, and applications.

  1. Goal and Focus:

    • Theraplay's goal is to enhance the emotional bond and attachment between a child and their caregiver. It emphasizes improving the child's sense of security, trust, and connection within the caregiver-child relationship.

    • Play Therapy is a broader approach that aims to address various emotional, behavioral, and psychological issues in children. It uses play as a means for children to express themselves, explore their feelings, and work through their problems.

  2. Techniques:

    • Theraplay sessions involve structured and guided activities that are specifically designed to promote attachment and bonding. These activities are often interactive and focused on building a positive emotional connection between the child and caregiver.

    • Play therapy offers a wide range of unstructured play activities, allowing the child to choose how they want to engage with toys and materials. The therapist observes and analyzes the child's play behavior to gain insights into their emotions and concerns.

  3. Therapist's Role:

    • In Theraplay, the therapist takes an active role in guiding and facilitating interactions between the child and caregiver. The therapist provides support and feedback to strengthen the relationship.

    • Play therapy therapists act as observers, allowing the child to lead the play sessions. They provide a safe and accepting environment for the child to express themselves without judgment.

  4. Applications:

    • Theraplay is specifically geared toward improving attachment and bonding within the caregiver-child relationship. It is often used in cases where attachment difficulties or trauma-related issues are present.

    • Play therapy has a broader range of applications and can be used to address a wide variety of emotional and behavioral challenges in children, including anxiety, depression, trauma, and social difficulties.

What activities are used in theraplay?

  • Mirror Play: The child and caregiver mirror each other's movements and expressions. This activity promotes attunement and helps the child feel seen and understood.

  • Games of Engagement: These may include simple games like peek-a-boo, patty-cake, or other interactive activities that encourage connection and cooperation between the child and caregiver.

  • Imaginative Play: Using toys, puppets, or role-play scenarios, the child and caregiver engage in imaginative play. This can help the child express feelings and explore their imagination in a safe environment.

  • Sharing and Turn-Taking: Practicing sharing and taking turns with toys or activities helps children learn important social and cooperative skills.

  • Sensory Play: Exploring sensory materials like clay, sand, or water can be calming and therapeutic. It allows the child to engage with their senses and emotions.

  • Narrative Storytelling: Creating stories together using toys or drawings can help the child express thoughts and feelings that may be difficult to articulate directly.

  • Attachment Games: These games are designed to promote attachment behaviors, such as seeking comfort from the caregiver or making eye contact.

  • Feeding and Nurturing: For young children, activities related to feeding and nurturing (e.g., feeding a doll) can mimic caregiving behaviors and reinforce the bond between the child and caregiver.

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Interested in counseling services focused on Christ and the redemption he brings to us? Book an appointment with one of our compassionate therapists and meet on a schedule that works with your needs.

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