Developed by Ann Jernberg, PHD, theraplay is a child and family therapy that focuses on the enhancement of joyful engagement, strengthening the attachment and trust between members, and boosting everyone’s self-esteem. Theraplay entails the natural patterns of healthy and playful interaction between a child and his or her parents. Unlike most, it is considered fun, personal and physical.
During the course of the therapy, the therapist guides parents and the child through developmentally challenging activities, fun games and nurturing activities. By engaging parents with the child, the former can successfully regulate the behavior of their little ones as well as easily express the feelings of safety, joy and love to them while developing the feelings of worthiness, connection, care and security in the child.
Theraplay focuses on the creation of an active and emotional connection between the child and parents or care givers. . Parents in these sessions are taught to provide their children with a nonjudgmental and empathetic environment. This encourages them to express their needs, concerns and even feelings. The main objective behind the therapy is to positively influence the self-perception of the patient and the perception of others. As self-esteem is one aspect that is prone to suffer in childhood relationships, theraplay therapy can effectively help in restoring and building this self-esteem in children.
In addition, the calming activities a therapist plans through theraplay allow children to feel cared for. As a result, children will be put at ease and they will be sure that their basic needs will be met. This is why this therapy has been known to mostly benefits children displaying aggression, anger issues, and lack of age-appropriate maturity. This also challenges children to discover their actual personalities, their desires and abilities. That aside, due to the therapy’s longer duration, it can be useful for instilling and reinforcing the beliefs and behaviors of children who may be lacking the adequate structure for healthy growth.
Therefore, parents who truly want to connect to their young ones should not give up on this opportunity and should seek professional help to facilitate this very important therapy.