Speciality Services

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Theraplay® Treatment

Theraplay® is a therapist guided play based modality that is modeled after the healthy interaction found in the securely attached parent/infant dyad. The goal of the therapist is to be sensitively attuned, responsive, and regulating to set the stage for feelings of safety and emotional development of the child in an effort to formulate a platform that will enhance a healthy attachment to parent, build self-esteem, trust in others and positive social engagement. Parents and/or caregivers are active participants in the treatment process, whether it is during child sessions or parent only sessions. Children who have been referred for Theraplay treatment may struggle with a wide variety of challenges ranging from withdrawn or depressed behavior, overactive-aggressive behavior, temper tantrums, anxieties and phobias, selective mutism, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and difficulty socializing and making friends. In many cases children have experienced interpersonal trauma, multiple placements leading to foster/adoption. Theraplay intervention can be adapted for all ages, beginning from infancy to adulthood.


Following your parent only intake session, treatment will involve an assessment called the Marschak Interaction Method (MIM), which gives the therapist a snapshot of the dynamics and interactional styles between caregiver and child.  The MIM will be videotaped and analyzed providing an excellent resource that is used to inform best practices for treatment.  Following the MIM and parent feedback caregivers are provided several parent coaching sessions that will enhance their skills in responding to the often challenging emotions and behaviors of the child. Caregivers can also expect a parent demonstration of Theraplay to enhance their understanding and develop comfort.  Theraplay including child and parent are typically 19 to 28 sessions in duration with every forth session being a parent only meeting to review and discuss progress.  


In some cases the treatment plan may need to be altered given the needs of your child, particularly in cases where a child has experienced significant losses, placements, trauma and/or institutional care.  In such cases, sessions may need to be extended beyond the typical protocol, longer/shorter per session or more frequent sessions.


In some situations children may also need to process their past traumas.  In such instances, I will often combine Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy techniques within the Theraplay sessions.


In working with foster/adoptive parents, I have often heard concerns related to experiences pertaining to lack of support and understanding the impact interpersonal trauma can have on an infant/child’s developing brain. As such, part of my role is educating you, uncovering insights to why your child behaves in such confusing ways at times, which is based upon the latest scientific research about the developing brain and attachment. You will learn why your child’s unique background requires a different parenting style than you might have expected, namely therapeutic parenting.   


Sometimes all that might be needed is a better understanding of your child's needs based on his/her presentation. Some families might benefit from completing the MIM assessment and obtaining parent feedback on how to best respond to your child given his/her challenges.  I can assess the overall needs at intake and discuss the best course of treatment for your child and family.


For more information on Theraplay please visit the official website at Theraplay.org


             Theraplay® - A registered service mark of:  The Theraplay Institute,

                          1840 Oak Avenue, Suite 320, Evanston, IL 60201