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What Is Filial Play Therapy?

Filial therapy is a type of therapy where foster parents are trained to provide therapeutic play sessions at home with the children in their care.

February 21 2024 - 4 min read

Filial therapy is a type of therapy where foster parents are trained to provide therapeutic play sessions at home with the children in their care.

It's particularly helpful when a child isn't ready to engage in direct work with a therapist. Instead, through dedicated sessions at home, children can express themselves through play, whilst strengthening the relationship they have with their foster parent.

In this blog, we'll share everything you need to know about filial play therapy with children in care.

Benefits of filial play therapy

Strengthens relationships

One of the key benefits of filial play therapy is its ability to improve the foster parent and child relationship.

By engaging in dedicated attachment play sessions together at home, foster parents and children can gain a closer relationship and deeper understanding of one another. Often, children feel more connected, listened to, and understood, which can help them to feel more safe and secure in the relationship.

Builds confidence and self-esteem

Filial play can boost a child’s confidence and self-esteem, while also helping them overcome behavioural, psychological, psychosocial and social difficulties they experience outside of the sessions.

Helps prevent future challenges

Filial play therapy can also be extremely effective in preventing future difficulties. By addressing problems within family systems, it provides caregivers with the tools they need to respond more effectively to the needs of their children.

How does filial play therapy work?

At ISP, Qualified Filial Play Therapists work directly with foster parents to equip them with the skills they need to provide 'non-directive' therapeutic play sessions at home. 'Non-directive' simply means that the child leads the play with the foster parent, not the other way around.

Being guided by the child is a really important aspect of filial play therapy because it provides a safe space for children to communicate their thoughts, feelings, and experiences freely without feeling pressured or judged.

Step 1: Foster parent training

With a trained therapist, foster parents learn how to conduct filial play at home, including;

  • Understanding the fundamentals of filial play
  • How to let the child lead the play
  • How to set up a play space in the home
  • Working with limited rules

Step 2: Play sessions at home

Once trained, the foster parent will set up a space in their home for play. This should be somewhere where they won't be disturbed. Generally, foster parents will complete at least one 30-minute session each week.

Foster parents will have a box of toys and art materials to use within the play session and some limited rules. This helps to create an atmosphere of understanding and acceptance within this contained play space.

Step 3: Regular check-ins with a therapist

Foster parents will meet with a Filial Play Therapist every week to discuss how the previous weeks' sessions went and share any difficulties or anxieties that may have arisen.

By closely working together, foster parents can empower both their child and themselves.

Transferring Fostering Agency

Download our transfer guide

We can fast-track your assessment in 12 weeks, so you can enjoy the benefits of our supportive community much sooner than you might think.

Download our transfer fostering agency guide to learn more about the process and benefits of working with ISP.