Theraplay ®

Theraplay is a short-term, therapist-directed play therapy for children and their parents. It is designed to enhance attachment, raise self-esteem, improve trust in others and create joyful engagement. Theraplay® is based on the natural patterns of healthy interaction between parent and child, and is personal, physical and fun. Interactions focus on five essential qualities found in parent-child relationships: Structure, Engagement, Nurture, Challenge and Playfulness. Theraplay® sessions create an active and empathic connection between the child and the parents, resulting in a changed view of the self as worthy and lovable and of relationships as positive and rewarding. Parents are actively involved in the treatment and empowered to continue on their own the health promoting interactions of the treatment sessions.


Theraplay® and The Theraplay® Institute were developed by clinical psychologist Ann M. Jernberg, Ph.D. Theraplay® has been used extensively since 1967 in Head Start and day care centers, special education classrooms, early intervention and parenting programs, residential and out-patient treatment centers and private family practice. Because of its relationship enhancing aspects, Theraplay® is used effectively with children diagnosed as having autism or pervasive developmental disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders, attachment disorders, adjustment disorders, anxiety disorders, behavioral problems and depression.

to grow and form future healthy adult relationships. Parents learn how to become Theraplay® experts to their own children through modeling, guiding, discussions, feedback, role-playing and guided practice.

All children need consistent daily doses of warmth, nurturance, acceptance, structure, challenge and playfulness. Enlightened interventions such as Theraplay® can help counteract negative emotions, re-channel past or missing early childhood attachment experiences into more positive ones and give a child the chance of creating a trusting healthy attachment, possibly for the first time in his life.

Children and Families - Photos