Parent-Child Dyadic Attachment Therapy
Theraplay® is a dyadic child and family attachment 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 to support a healthy child-caregiver attachment bond. Strong attachment between the child and the important adults in their life is the basis of lifelong mental health as well as the pillar 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.
In treatment, the Theraplay® Practitioner guides the caregiver and child through playful therapeutic interactions that meet the child’s attachment needs. Some of these include organising the child’s experience, scaffolding developmentally appropriate challenge and providing tender, nurturing moments of comfort. The very act of engaging each other in this way helps the parent co-regulate the child's behaviour and communicates love, joy, and safety to the child. It helps the child to trust, feel secure, cared for, connected and worthy.
Theraplay® interactions focus on four essential qualities found in healthy parent-child relationships:
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
With the support of the Theraplay® practitioner, parents interact with their child in a way that establishes felt safety, increases social engagement, expands arousal regulation, and supports the development of positive self-esteem for both the child and the parent.