“Theraplay is a dyadic child and family therapy that has been recognized by the Association of Play Therapy as one of seven seminal psychotherapies for children. Developed over 50 years ago, and practiced around the world, Theraplay was developed for any professional working to support healthy child/caregiver attachment. Strong attachment between the child and the important adults in their life has long been believed to be the basis of lifelong good mental health as well as the mainstay of resilience in the face of adversity. Modern brain research and the field of neuroscience have shown that attachment is the way in which children come to understand, trust and thrive in their world.” (The Theraplay Institute)
Research and evidence base
Effectiveness of Theraplay in a substance abuse rehabilitation 2021
The effectiveness of Theraplay for children under 12-a systematic literature review 2021
Published research articles in peer-reviewed journals
Siu, A.F.Y. (2014). Effectiveness of Group Theraplay® on enhancing social skills among children with developmental disabilities. International Journal of Play Therapy, 23(4), 187-203.
Theraplay® is a play therapy approach that helps children form better relationships and attachments with others. It focuses on the nonverbal aspects of interaction. This study reports on a Group Theraplay program in a special school for children with developmental disabilities. Twenty-three students, arranged into four groups, participated in the year-long program that used Theraplay principles to enhance their social development. Results were compared with a group of 15 students who served as the comparison control. Data from the Social Responsiveness Scale showed that students from the Theraplay group had significant improvement in the subscale of “social communication” when compared with the comparison group. Feedback from teachers suggested new ideas in working with this group of children. A discussion of the rationale behind why Theraplay works for these children was presented. The limitations of this study and directions for future research are addressed.
Bennett, L.R., Shiner, S.K. and Ryan, S. (2006). “Using Theraplay in Shelter Settings with Mothers and Children Who Have Experienced Violence in the Home”, Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Service, 44 (10), 38-47.
This article describes a group program for women and children exposed to violence in the home. The program is primarily based on Theraplay, an attachment-based intervention approach for working with both adults and children who have a variety of emotional and behavioral difficulties. The theoretical and research bases, as well as the guiding principles of Theraplay, will be outlined and discussed, and the rationale for its application to a shelter setting will be highlighted. Finally, the benefits of and challenges to implementing such a program and the implications for practice and further evaluation will be explored.