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Theraplay is a child and family therapy that has as its goal enhancing and building attachment, self-esteem, trust in others, and joyful engagement. The principles underlying Theraplay are that, in healthy relationships, there should be natural patterns of playful, healthy interaction between parent and child. The goal of Theraplay would be a changed view of the self as worthy and lovable and of relationships as positive and rewarding. It is one type of play therapy that can be used with children.

History of Theraplay[edit]

In 1967, Ann Jernberg, Ph.D., became the Director of Psychological Services for the new Chicago Head Start program. She brought in Phyllis Booth, MA as one of her assistants. She and her team were to identify children in need of psychological services and refer them to existing treatment centers. However, there were very few resources for children's mental health at the time, and the existing ones could not possibly handle the hundreds of children identified as needing help. Jernberg set out to create her own program that would treat children at the Head Start centers, rather than at outlying clinics, and could use paraprofessionals supervised by mental health professionals to do the actual work. The result was a model based upon healthy parent-infant interaction which borrowed elements from the work of Austin Des Lauriers and Viola Brody. From Des Laurier she took the idea of actively engaging the child in an intimate environment that focused on the here and now. From Brody, she adopted the nurturing relationship between child and therapist, including touch, rocking and singing. Ernestine Thomas, a talented early therapist, contributed the focus on being strongly affirmative and hopeful about the child's health, potential and strength.

The Jernberg team took the model and recruited people with a lively, playful ability to engage children. They trained and supervised them to go into the schools to work individually and intensively with the children who needed help. When they ran into resistance to this unorthodox method, they produced films to demonstrate its effectiveness. The Theraplay Institute was formed in 1971, and people familiar with the Head Start work began referring children for treatment. In 1976, Theraplay was registered as a service mark to protect the integrity of Theraplay treatment and training around the world. In 1979, Jernberg published Theraplay: A New Treatment Using Structured Play for Problem Children and Their Families.

In the 1980s the focus became increasingly on training others to use Theraplay. The Theraplay Institute reached out beyond the Chicago area to train mental health professionals in other areas of the United States and Canada. Today, there are chartered Theraplay Associations in Germany and Finland, and an official Alliance for Theraplay in South Korea. People from over 28 other countries have been trained in Theraplay. Theraplay therapists are working with Aids orphans in Botswana, victims of war and natural disasters all over the world, and many other humanitarian projects.

Phyllis Booth published the second edition of the Theraplay book in 1999, and in 2010 the third edition of Theraplay: Helping Parents and Children Build Better Relationships Through Attachment-Based Play. Theraplay has evolved since its Head Start roots to focus on the child-caregiver relationship, which has led to an increased emphasis on secure attachment and affect attunement (D.N. Stern, A.N. Schore, M. Ainsworth).

See also[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theraplay — Please support Wikipedia.
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3007 videos foundNext > 


A documentary short about the origins and benefits of Theraplay. Features interviews from key members of the Theraplay institute: Phyllis Booth, Sandra ...

Volcano Breathing & Theraplay Activities: Bubble Tennis, Peanut Butter & Jelly

Theraplay is a type of child and family therapy with a goal of building attachments and relationships. These activities are broken down into four dimensions: ...

You and Your Young Child - Theraplay

Host Dana Stanton discusses Theraplay with guest Kris Schulte.


THERAPLAY® is an Attachment-Based therapeutic approach using structured play to help children and their families. It has been used effectively since it was ...

Theraplay 1


Theraplay: Gretta's Progress

Gretta's mom, Katie, anticipates running, jumping, and kicking a ball in her daughter's once uncertain future.

Theraplay by Phyllis Booth

Theraplay is a structured approach which promotes the relationship between child and parent through fostering warm, structured, nurturing and engaging ...

Theraplay Slippery Slip

Dafna Lender demonstrates how to play Slippery Slip.



Demonstration of 4 Theraplay activities.

3007 videos foundNext > 

1492 news items

Current in Carmel

Current in Carmel
Wed, 27 Apr 2016 12:30:00 -0700

In addition to watching the race, attendees will have the opportunity to see an Andretti Autosport Indy car and two Indianapolis 500 pace cars; get autographs from drivers; meet the TherAplay horses; play dress up with the Indy 500 princesses; try food ...

Wichita Eagle

Wichita Eagle
Wed, 13 Apr 2016 05:17:59 -0700

Kris Dickinson started her pediatric occupational therapy and physical therapy practice four years ago as its primary therapist and seeing about 10 children a week. Today, Dickinson's TheraPlay Spot employs 12 people, including six OTs and three PTs ...

Wichita Eagle (blog)

Wichita Eagle (blog)
Wed, 30 Dec 2015 08:35:16 -0800

Office Spots office space opens at new TheraPlay Spot building. TheraPlay Spot owner looks for complementary businesses to share space. Two tenants have signed to move in next year. Carrie Rengers ...

ADVANCE for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists

ADVANCE for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists
Mon, 18 Apr 2016 08:22:30 -0700

"Sensory therapy is challenging in that it's not the same for any child," related Megan Morace, MS, OTR/L, center manager at the Newtown, Pa., location of Theraplay Inc. "So two children can come in with the same diagnosis and respond to the sensory ...

Wichita Eagle

Wichita Eagle
Wed, 30 Sep 2015 14:21:47 -0700

That's the idea behind TheraPlay Spot, which Dickinson opened on South Hillside in 2012 to provide physical and occupational therapy to children. On a recent morning, a 6-year-old boy with poor vision and underdeveloped muscles laughed as he freed ...

Current in Carmel

Current in Carmel
Tue, 15 Sep 2015 03:05:16 -0700

Her 3-year-old son, Maxwell, is a patient at Children's TherAplay, a nonprofit outpatient rehabilitation clinic for kids with special needs. TherAplay incorporates the movement of horses through hippotherapy into the physical and occupational therapies.
Wed, 23 Dec 2015 19:56:15 -0800

The Connecticut-based Starboard Theraplay, Llc had published D Form regarding $498,000 offering. This is a new filing. The Limited Liability Company raised $498,000. The offering is still open. The total offering amount was $498,000. The form was filed ...

The Korea Times US

The Korea Times US
Mon, 11 Apr 2016 14:22:30 -0700

... of the horse's movements to the patient “produces a combination of sensory, motor and neurological input,” the transfer yields positive effects on oral motor control, voice quality, and verbal communication, according to The Children's TherAplay ...

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