Filial Therapy

Introduction to Filial Therapy

The word Filial is derived from the Latin ‘filius’ meaning offspring related, or as described by the Guerneys parent/child relationship. Play therapy has been used successfully to help troubled children since the 1940s. Filial therapy is a special kind of play therapy. It is suitable for children between the ages of 3 and 11 or 12 years old.

Filial Therapy was developed in the 1960s by Bernard and Louise Guerney. Since then literally thousands of families in the US and now in the UK have been helped by this method. Risё VanFleet, a protégé of the Guerney”s has continued the work and has trained many therapists in the UK and all around the world.

Filial Therapy is a closely related form of child-centred play therapy that involves the parents or carers, and unlike Play Therapy the parents/carers are the agents of therapeutic change. The sessions with the Filial Therapist are held mostly with the parents, and the Therapist will train and support the parent/carer to hold non-directive play sessions in their home.

Filial Therapy usually takes 3-6 months to complete, and may last longer with follow-up sessions.

Filial Therapy is a very flexible model: providing that the essentials are taught to parents and followed through, it can be delivered and adapted in various ways to meet the circumstances. For instance, parents may attend a Filial Therapy group (usually a minimum of 10 weeks) or be offered an individual Filial Therapy intervention.

After the initial assessment of the family, the therapist spends two or three weeks training the parents in the basic Filial skills. Parents get to practice the skills several times before they hold the first play session with their child. Thereafter a parent will hold a maximum 30-minute Filial session with their child every week at the same time, on the same day, and in the same place. All sessions are videoed by the parents and the therapist will watch the session, talk through what happened, looking for all the positive points and helping out when there might be difficulties.

Parents continue to hold a weekly 30-minute Filial session with their child for as long as necessary or as long as the child wants to. Many children enjoy their sessions so much that they choose to continue for many months or even years! Parents also find that the time spent together in Filial play is so valuable and special that they are happy to do this. The therapist initially meets with parents once a week, but later this will change to fortnightly or monthly meetings, followed by a final “check up” after perhaps three or more months.

How Long? – How Often? – How Much?

Group sessions last for ten weeks for an hour and a half each session, and are held weekly. The cost for group filial is £40 per session per person – discounts are given if both parents attend.

Individual sessions cost £50 for an hour session, held weekly for a minimum of 12 weeks.