Filial therapy was developed by Bernard and Louise Guerney and strives to enhance a child-parent relationship by empowering the parent with new and innovative ways to interact with their child. This unique form of therapy provides an environment in which the child receives concentrated attention from the parent, thus lessening the anxiety of the child and allowing him or her to unlearn behavior patterns that lead to miscommunication. Parents are given the skills necessary to practice effective listening and respond to a child’s emotions as well as tools to help encourage the enhancement of the child’s self-esteem. Therapists teach the parents how to set therapeutic limits and utilize principles of play therapy, at-home sessions, and how to provide an authentically accepting and understanding atmosphere in which their child will find security to explore their own emotions and the relationship with their parent.
Filial group therapy provides a supportive platform from which the parent can express their own emotions, fears, and concerns relating to their parent-child relationship. Other parents in the group give and receive feedback on a weekly basis. Most often these group therapy sessions continue for up to 18 months. At the point that the parent has developed the proper training and skills necessary to participate in the therapeutic process, he or she will be allowed to conduct play sessions at home with his or her child. The outcome of this session, as perceived by the parent, is then examined by the therapist and peers in the group.
Over time and with clear and concise instruction, the parent learns to set specific limits and engage the child in consistent and dedicated sessions involving play. The result is an environment in which the child begins to feel accepted and learns to express themselves in a socially adaptable and acceptable manner that resides within the limits set by the parent. The child eventually begins to see the relationship with the parent in a new light and learns to respond according to the model developed in the sessions.
Last updated: 07-02-2015