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Theraplay®-informed practice

"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 Institute 

Core Concepts

Theraplay® interactions focus on four essential qualities found in healthy parent-child relationships

  • Structure: The adult, the leader in the relationship, creates organization and predictability for the child which communicates safety

  • Nurture: The adult provides caring that can calm and soothe the child in a manner that makes them feel good physically and emotionally

  • Engagement: The adult is present in a manner that the child experiences being seen, heard, felt, and accepted

  • Challenge: The adult supports the child in the acquisition and mastery of new skills, enhancing the child’s sense of competence and confidence


With the support of the clinician, parents learn to play with their child in a way that establishes felt safety, increases social engagement, expands arousal regulation, and supports the development of positive self-esteem for both the child and the parent. 

Information taken from Theraplay Institute.

Theraplay® is an effective treatment for children with a wide range of social difficulties, emotional challenges, and developmental and behavioural problems. It has been used successfully with birth families, foster families and adoptive families to help with:

  • Acting-out, angry or disruptive behaviour

  • Defiant or controlling behaviour

  • Shy, withdrawn or clingy behaviour

  • Attachment issues due to adoption or multiple family placements

  • A history of trauma or neglect

  • Developmental disorders 

  • ADHD

  • Behavioural problems at school or with peers

More importantly, if you feel stuck in a negative dynamic with your child, feel helpless to deal with your child’s challenges, or despairing of ever having a normal, healthy relationship with your child – you can benefit from Theraplay.

Who can benefit from Theraplay®?

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