Developed in the late 1960s by Ann Jernberg, Theraplay is child and family therapy based on attachment theory that aims to address behavioral, emotional, and developmental issues. It is endorsed by the Association for Play Therapy as a historically significant play therapy approach. At its core, Theraplay endorses healthy attachments between caregivers and children for them to develop a healthy sense of self. To achieve this, Theraplay has the practitioner, along with the caregiver, facilitate fun, nurturing, and involved activities to build a healthy relationship with the child, allowing them to experience a positive and safe world as they explore their emotional states.
Theraplay uses practitioner guidance to create playful and caring child-adult interactions that foster joyful shared experiences. These activities build attunement and understanding of each other – replicating early relationship experiences that are proven to lead to secure attachment. The interactions are personal, physical and fun – a natural way for everyone to experience the healing power of being together. Theraplay interactions focus on four essential qualities found in healthy parent-child relationships: structure, engagement, nurture, and challenge.
The caregiver communicates safety by creating organization and predictability for the child.
The caregiver is present in a manner that the child experiences being seen, heard, felt, and accepted.
The caregiver provides caring that can calm and soothe the child in a manner that makes them feel good physically and emotionally.
The caregiver supports the child in the acquisition and mastery of new skills, enhancing the child’s sense of competence and confidence.
Theraplay has developed a plethora of media to support your training journey and your Theraplay practice. They include books, activity flipbooks, merch, and much more.