Louise and Bernard Guerney are the founders of Filial Family Therapy, an innovative approach to family therapy that employs the parent or primary caregiver as the main therapeutic facilitator for the child using the method of play to deliver treatment. Bernard Guerney, Jr., Ph.D. has spent more than three decades practicing, training, and mentoring clinicians in the delivery of family and marital therapy. He is considered an innovative force in the field of family treatment and is also the founder of the National Institute of Relationship Enhancement.
Louise Guerney, Ph.D., is considered to be a leader in the field of child-centered play therapy. She is the Director of Play and Filial Family Training at The National Institute of Relationship Enhancement and also practices as a clinical psychologist, a registered Play Therapist Supervisor and is a founding Board Member of the Association for Play Therapy.
Drs. Guerney have worked together to expand the awareness of their Filial Therapy Method. They have impacted thousands of lives throughout the world by acting in various capacities. Each is recognized for their achievements by numerous awards and fellowships. Bernard Guerney has authored several books and has received recognition for his work with low-income families. Louise Gurney aided in the creation of a nationwide service targeting latchkey children and has served on the board of many distinguished organizations focused on improving mental health in family and marital relationships.
Contribution to Psychology
Bernard and Louise Guerney developed Filial Therapy in the 1960’s as a branch of play therapy. The target client is between the ages of three and twelve years old. Unique from traditional play therapy, Filial therapy relies on the participation of the primary caregiver as the therapeutic agent. The caregiver is taught the essential skills necessary to facilitate treatment, and the model can be altered and shifted during the therapeutic process. Once the caregiver is properly trained, they will begin to engage in sessions with their child, with the clinician in observance. The session is evaluated and assessed without the child present, and recommendations and suggestions are made. Filial Therapy lasts anywhere from three to six months and can be conducted individually or in group settings. The success rate of this type of therapy is very high, and children and caregivers often desire to lengthen their duration of therapy because of the immense positive impact it makes in their relationship. Clinicians taper off their involvement throughout until the therapy is concluded.