parents in play therapyAs play therapists, it is essential to include parents in our work with children. Why? Parental involvement is one of the strongest factors in a child’s well-being. Including parents in play therapy helps establish a parent-therapist alliance which enables a greater chance of helping the child with presenting issues, helps the therapist better assess what is happening for the child at home and within the family, and helps the parents become invested in the play therapy process so the child can be helped.

In my 2 hour APT and NBCC approved play therapy training called Including Parents in the Play Room, you will learn ways to include parents in the play therapy process, gain a deeper understanding of the models of child-parent play therapy mentioned below, and learn about reasons to not include parents in the playroom. In this article, I will give you a sneak peek into what you will learn in that workshop and offer additional resources.

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Some models for including parents in play therapy:

1. Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)

This is a behavioral based approach that is used to help improve the parent-child relationship through interactions. It is conducted through “coaching” sessions where the therapist observes the parent and child interact through a one-way mirror and/or live video feed. PCIT involves two stages of treatment: Relationship Enhancement and Discipline & Compliance. (Reference Link) You can find PCIT trainings HERE.

2. Filial Therapy

Filial Therapy provides caregivers (typically parents) with training in basic child centered play therapy techniques so they can use these techniques with their own children. The main skills are: structuring skills, empathic skills, imaginative play skills (child-centered, non-directive), and limit setting skills. (Rye, N. (n.d.). Filial Therapy. Reference Link).

3. Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP)

DDP focuses on the parent-child “dyad” as a platform for healing, addressing attachment, developmental trauma, intersubjectivity. The therapist meets with the parents, assesses their parenting styles, and then teaches them particular methods for relating. Once the therapist believes the parents are well prepared, the child is then invited into therapy. Treatment concludes once the therapist can see there is a secure attachment and healthy connecting communication with the therapist intervening or directing any longer. (Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (n.d.). In DDP Network. Reference Link)

4. Theraplay®

Theraplay® is used to build and enhance attachment, self esteem, trust and delightful engagement. The interventions directed by the therapist are playfully interactive with just a few simple props and they focus on four essential qualities found in healthy parent-child relationships: Structure, Engagement, Nurturing, and Challenge. Therapists must receive training in order to provide Theraplay® to families. Find out more at!

Theoretical Models Supporting Parents in the Play Room:

  • Developmental
  • Family Systems
  • Attachment
  • Psychodynamic
  • Behavioral
  • Psychoeducational

Want to learn more ways to include parents in play therapy and earn 2 NBCC credit hours also approved by APT? Check out the course description and learning objectives for my training, Including Parents in the Playroom, HERE!

Below are 3 resources to learn more about attachment theory and filial therapy:

Need consultation or coaching on how to work with a child with anxiety? I offer both contact and non-contact play therapy  training as well as consultation for therapists and coaching for parents. Contact me here to schedule a consultation.