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What is Filial Therapy?

Article Details
  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 12 August 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Filial therapy is a therapeutic method that can be used to treat emotionally disturbed children. The idea is for adults to communicate with children by playing with them. Filial therapy is supposed to assist parents or caretakers to close gaps between themselves and children by providing a line of communication that they can both understand.

Filial therapy is a type of play therapy, but not the only type. In filial therapy, the parent is present and normally conducts every session. In non-directive play therapy, on the other hand, children work with play therapists. Parents are not actually involved in the sessions but receive updates and reports from the therapists.

Filial therapy usually begins with an assessment of the family. This may include an observation session where the therapist watches the family playing. This can allow the therapist an opportunity to identify if this sort of treatment is beneficial, and if so, how the parents and children can each benefit. The observation session can also help to convince parents that filial therapy can encourage behavior change in their children.

A few weeks are usually devoted to teaching adults how to play. This may seem like common sense, but usually it requires a certain amount of practice. Parents and care takers must learn to relate to children in a completely different capacity. The adults are no longer mere authority figures. In general, adults become peers and rule making is limited.

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Some people chose to attend group sessions. Others are more comfortable with individual therapy, which involves only a single family. Adults may find it most beneficial to put the setting preferences the child before their own.

Filial therapy is normally best for children who are old enough to understand the connection between actions and consequences. It is also most effective for children who have not outgrown the desire to play. This sort of treatment is usually suggested for children between three and eleven years old.

Successful treatment usually takes three to six months. Those who participate should not judge success or failure solely by a child’s desire to extend the treatment. Many children enjoy the sessions and the attention they receive. Some children have problems that are more severe than others, and they may progress at a slower pace.

The goal for children in this type of therapy is that they can learn to express their feelings and communicate their fears. They often gain the ability and confidence to tell their parents or caretakers what they need. This can result in improved self-esteem and behavior. It can also increase the amount of trust and strengthen the bonds between the child and adults.

Filial therapy can also be a big help to parents and caretakers. These adults can learn skills that help them identify the child’s feelings. They may learn to view situations and environments through a child’s eyes. It can also be a general benefit because adults must learn to improve their listening skills, expand their capacity for understanding, and to be open to new forms of communication.

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