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Filial Play Therapy




Filial play therapy is a family therapy intervention that empowers parents to be change agents for themselves and their children. It is a therapeutic approach designed to enhance parent-child relationships as the parents help their child regulate emotional challenges through relationship building and re-establishing appropriate family roles. Filial play therapy draws upon principles from child-centered play therapy, and its goal is to establish an atmosphere in which children feel accepted and able to play confidently.


During the filial play therapy session, the therapists coach parents to conduct therapeutic play sessions with their children. The premise of Filial Play Therapy is that parent's involvement in the play therapy sessions in a role similar to a play therapist will enhance the effectiveness of the play therapy sessions due to their stronger bond with the child. The Filial Play Therapist coaches parents in essential skills to engage in child-centered play, such as reflective listening, empathetic responding, and setting appropriate limits. Through these play sessions, parents learn to attune to their child's emotions, understand their needs, and respond effectively, reducing relationships and interpersonal misinterpretations and creating stronger bonding between parents and child.


The approach of parent-child play within the framework of filial therapy provides a powerful means of expression, boundary-setting, communication, and relationship-building for the parent and the child. Some of the critical advantages of parent-child play are:


  • Play sessions provide a safe space for children to express their emotional struggles nonverbally. Children often act out when they lack a safe outlet for their emotions, and play allows them to communicate and process their feelings effectively.

  • Play is inherently sensory and kinesthetic, offering a valuable avenue for children who have experienced trauma.

  • Some children struggle to express their emotional pain verbally. Play sessions provide a metaphorical platform where children can communicate their pain indirectly, allowing for greater emotional expression and understanding.

  • Filial Play Therapist teaches parents and caregivers how to set boundaries and limits effectively to create a safe environment for children.

  • Parent-child play sessions can break down resistance barriers and create a more receptive environment.

  • Children who have experienced trauma or are in crisis often struggle with a loss of control. The guided but non-directive play sessions provide the self-space for children to explore and regain control and empowerment.

  • Parent-child play sessions focus on relationship building rather than behaviour management and control. It allows the parents to invest in their connection with their child and foster a more nurturing and supportive bond.


Filial play therapy empowers parents or caregivers. By participating in the therapy process, parents acquire a deeper understanding of their child's emotional world, gain insight into their parenting style, and develop practical communication skills. It promotes parental self-confidence, strengthens the parent-child bond, and equips parents with tools to support their child's emotional growth beyond the therapy sessions.


Filial Play Therapy is a type of family therapy which help parents develop their relationships with their children through non-directive play. It provides a safe space where children can safely express themselves, try new things, learn about social rules and restrictions, and develop social skills. Filial Play Therapy is an effective intervention to help children express and process their challenging situations. Parents' involvement in play therapy empowers parents to play effectively with their children, leading to a deeper connection between parents and children beyond the play therapy sessions.


Restoring Peace Counselling and Consultancy offers counselling and psychotherapy services for children, adolescents, youths and adults individuals and families to help them overcome anxiety, depression, trauma, and various mental health challenges. Restoring Peace is a private mental health center which provides counselling and psychotherapy services for children, youths and adult individuals with eating disorders, anxiety, depression, trauma, grief and other mental health challenges. For more information, please visit www.restoringpeace.com.sg or WhatsApp at +65 8889 1848. For periodic updates, we invite you to join our telegram group, https://t.me/restoringpeace.


Keywords: Filial, play, therapy, parenting, emotional, attachment, parent-child relationship, challenges, child-centered.


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