Family Play Therapy

What is Family Play Therapy?

Family relationships between parent and child, and siblings are the first relationships we form in our lives. They shape who we are, how we think and feel about ourselves, how we relate to others in our world and what we do. Because of this, the family is a powerful system that can get stuck in roles and patterns that are challenging to break.

The term ‘family play therapy’ just means that the parent / carer and child are involved in the therapeutic process with the Therapist. In more traditional family therapy models, the child is asked to meet at their parent’s level and talk it out, but instead we invite the parent/ carer to get down to the child’s level to play it out.

Some of our consultant therapists are trained and certified in providing a specialised family play therapy approach based on the research informed family therapy model called Interplay Therapy.

The outcome of Interplay Therapy is that both the child and parent heal past experiences within a secure attachment relationship, reorganising their nervous system and rewriting their early attachment relationship.

When the mother is not able to attune with her child, when the mother has her own trauma to deal with, it is more difficult for her to be attuned to the child’s physical and emotional needs. Interplay facilitates this communication by supporting and sharing the experience of connection between mother and child. By helping sustain and attune both nervous systems into the same experience, by repairing the broken relationship, by healing relationship trauma, by reconnecting mother and infant.(Interplay therapy – Understanding the approach)

What happens in Family Play Therapy session?

This modality is similar to our child centered play therapy philosophy that is non-directive in nature. It combines humanistic principles with attachment theory and interpersonal neurobiology (how the mind is shaped by relationship). In Interplay Therapy, parents /carers become central to the child’s therapeutic process. It is through the powers of Play that allows the child and their parent(s) to connect through the use of toys and materials, providing a safe therapeutic relationship and insight into attuned and miss-attuned moments whilst creating safety.

Within family play therapy, the therapist enters the child and parents world through play and takes note of the interaction/reaction and the child and parents’ response. By validating and responding to this experience offering therapeutic insight and support through coregulation, both child and parent/carer develop self insight, insight into each other, integration and regulation, strengthening the child and parent relationship. The therapist supports the child and parent/carer to explore and reorganise experiences that may have contributed to their wellbeing, enabling growth and healing to occur.

Interplay creates a special opportunity where children as well as their parent can begin to understand and reorganise past experiences and rewrite a new narrative all which supports the creation of new neural networks, repeated co-regulation and the overall strengthening of their relationship.

Who can benefit from this approach?

This family play therapy approach is beneficial for children and their parents across the life span but specifically

  • Behavioural issues
  • Learning disabilities
  • Undergoing a medical treatment
  • Eating disorders
  • Palliative care
  • Developmental delay
  • Traumatic life experience (family issues, abuse, loss, neglect, or natural disasters)
  • Mental health disorders
  • Attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

Your child play therapist will discuss with you in the initial parent consultation to determine which intervention will be most suitable to commence with based on current concerns and child / family history.

Relationship’s shape who we are. “Neurons that fire together, wire together”, meaning that our life experiences and relationships wire (and rewire) the brain. Every single brain on earth is different because we all have different experiences. Relationships directly affect our mind and brain, the way we understand, imitate, learn from, communicate and how we see and relate to ourselves and others. The challenge for many, is that past memories of the way in which we relate to others are not positive. We may experience all sorts of emotions such as feeling anxious, avoidant, or disorganised when in relation with another, this relates to the way we attached-or did not in early childhood. Neuroplasticity gives us the opportunity to learn how to securely relate to the world and others, giving those with negative experiences an enormous opportunity to rewire and achieve secure attachment leading to secure relationships and healing. That is what we do in Interplay Family Therapy.  (Interplay Therapy: An Understanding of The Approach).

Do you want to know a bit more?

To find out more information about this powerful modality and to see if it is the right treatment approach for your family’s needs, book an initial parent consultation today.

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Here’s what our clients had to say about their children and our Play Therapy Melbourne:

Children’s therapy centre

We began play therapy hoping that it would be an effective way of breaking the difficult cycle that I was in with my son. Our play therapist, Mardi, has a beautiful manner with our son and we have valued her insightful observations about what may be underlying his behaviours.

Danielle (Mother)
Filial Therapy Melbourne Testimonial

The combination of the play therapy and implementing her simple strategies has been very effective in changing things at home. We have found play therapy to be very beneficial for our family and are now undertaking filial therapy to continue to reap the rewards of the play therapy approach.

Karen & Rob (Parents)
Play Therapy Melbourne Testimonial

Natalie is fun, bright and bubbly. Through Play Therapy, she was easily able to connect with my child and we cannot believe how much he has transformed from being an anxious and unsure little boy, into the settled, confident and social child he is now.

Emma (Parent)

My child has a trauma background. He’s getting the Play therapy for about 9 months now. I can’t not thank Helen enough for her help and support . It’s been a very hard journey but the result is amazing. He has got great control on his emotions. He is a happy boy now 🙂

Mark & Linda (Parents)
Child Therapy Melbourne Testimonial

Donna’s play therapy & animal assisted therapy work has been instrumental in supporting & developing an understanding of the underlying issues of our disengaged refugee students. Her expertise has also been welcomed by staff who needed insight in engaging & developing strategies to meet the needs of our highly challenging students.

Ivan Araujo (Dandenong West Primary Youth Worker)

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