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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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3128 videos foundNext > 


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

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.

Attachment Therapy Games (Part 1 of 2)

Disclaimer: I am not a therapist nor am I trained professionally in Attachment Therapy OR Theraplay. At the time this video was made I was a foster, soon to ...

Theraplay: Kamdyn's Story

Kamdyn has positively transformed into a different child while at Theraplay.


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


Demonstration of 4 Theraplay activities.

Theraplay Row, Row Row Your Boat

Dafna Lender from The Theraplay Institute demonstrates how to improvise a song of Row, Row, Row Your Boat with the help of Allison.

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 intera...

3128 videos foundNext > 

7 news items

Bucks County Courier Times
Sun, 21 Sep 2014 17:40:45 -0700

Whether it's a toddler struggling to overcome a developmental delay, an autistic child who needs support or a teen recovering from a sports injury, Theraplay Inc. helps kids of all ages and stages develop to their full potential. On Sunday, Theraplay ...
Norman Transcript
Wed, 22 Oct 2014 07:42:37 -0700

... team maintains up-to-date practices in the fields of play therapy, child-parent relationship therapy, art therapy, Trust Based Relationship Intervention®, Theraplay®, Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and other professional therapeutic ...
GoodTherapy.org (blog)
Tue, 23 Sep 2014 12:19:32 -0700

Americans are famous for being a hard-working bunch, taking the fewest paid vacation days off. I, for one, spent the summer studying advanced yoga therapy techniques on weekends, and working during the week, especially during the months of June and ...
GoodTherapy.org (blog)
Tue, 23 Sep 2014 10:04:37 -0700

While any form of victimization can be traumatic, hate crimes are particularly challenging for victims. Unlike random acts of violence, hate crimes are based on an individual's identity and include acts such as bullying, assaulting, or raping a person ...

Daily Mail

Daily Mail
Mon, 29 Sep 2014 14:34:55 -0700

The bicycle is made by Theraplay, a special needs equipment company, and can be adapted as Sophie grows to give her several years of use. Despite having raised more than £58,000 in total, Sophie's family faced another blow in May when doctors at ...
Free Press Release Center (press release)
Thu, 02 Oct 2014 06:30:00 -0700

The new diploma from London based Adoption Agency, Family Futures, runs from the 3rd- 7th of November and synergises cutting-edge research, theory and practice. It is designed to enable practitioners to integrate a neuro-sequential approach into their ...

Fidelity News

Fidelity News
Tue, 30 Sep 2014 13:03:45 -0700

La bicicletta è stata realizzata da Theraplay, una società di impianti per esigenze speciali, e può essere adattata con la crescita di Sophie, dandole diversi anni di utilizzo. Pur avendo raccolto circa 58.000 sterline in totale, la famiglia di Sophie ...

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