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What is Filial Family Therapy?

Parents best know their children. They are a constant presence and the most important teachers and role models.  Filial Therapy is a specialised therapeutic approach that focuses on teaching parents/carers relational skills that promote positive parenting, by strengthening child-parent relationships and optimising positive attachments in the long term.  Filial Family Therapy is suited to families with children from 3-13 years of age who are experiencing social, emotional or behavioural difficulties, but is also beneficial for families who may just simply wish to improve the quality of their relationships.

Children naturally communicate and process thoughts, feelings and emotions through play. Filial Family Therapy is a well-established and evidence based approach, drawing on principles of Child Centered Play Therapy.  Under the guidance of a qualified and trained therapist, parents learn to recognise the emotional content of their child's play and are supported to use four core therapeutic skills with their child:

  • Structuring

  • Limit setting

  • Empathic listening

  • Imaginative play


These skills are important in promoting trust and security and convey to the child empathy, acceptance and understanding of feeling, resulting in deeper emotional insight and connection.  When children feel genuinely valued, cared for and understood, they are able to more quickly and safely work through and resolve difficult feelings and troubling situations.

Parents are guided to use Filial Therapy skills as part of a structured, 30 minute, weekly special play session over 15-20 weeks.  The number of training sessions offered is flexible, negotiated in consultation with parents/carers, and will be guided by family background information shared in an initial meeting, as well as the therapist's family play observation and level of parental confidence in using the skills.  Parents are then supported to incorporate these core therapeutic skills in everyday parenting and family life. This results in a number of benefits for all family members, such as:

  • More enjoyable and positive parent-child experiences

  • Clearer boundaries

  • Deep parent-child listening skills

  • Enhanced emotional literacy and feelings of safety, security and trust

  • High self-esteem and confidence for all involved

  • A decrease in social, emotional and behavioural difficulties

  • Enhanced coping skills for all involved

Filial Therapy empowers children, parents, families.

All sources of information for this and other sections on our website can be viewed on our References page.

Inside Out Play Therapy
Inside Out Play Therapy
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