Louise and Bernard Guerney are contemporary psychologists. The married couple are the founders of filial family therapy

Professional Life

Bernard Guerney, Jr., PhD 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 he and his wife, Louise Guerney, established the National Institute of Relationship Enhancement (NIRE).

Louise Guerney, PhD, 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, a registered Play Therapist Supervisor, a practicing clinical psychologist, and a founding member of the Association for Play Therapy.

Drs. Guerney have worked together to expand awareness of their filial therapy method. 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 worked with many organizations focused on improving mental health in family and marital relationships. 

Contribution to Psychology

Bernard and Louise Guerney developed filial therapy in the 1960s 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, he or she will begin to engage in sessions with the child, while the clinician observes. 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 the duration of therapy because of the immense positive impact it makes in their relationship. Clinicians taper their involvement throughout until the therapy is concluded.


  1. Bernard G. Guerney, Jr. (2002). Contemporary Authors Online, Biography In Context. Retrieved from: http://ic.galegroup.com.ez.trlib.info/
  2. Brooks, Andree. (1987, Oct 12). Relationships; Discipline of Children from Afar. New York Times. Retrieved from: http://search.proquest.com/docview/426644255?accountid=1229