Theraplay® is a structured play therapy for children and their parents. Its goal is to enhance attachment, self-esteem, trust in others and joyful engagement. The sessions are fun, physical, personal and interactive and replicate the natural healthy interaction between parents and young children.

The therapist trains the parents to focus and develop the four essential qualities found in healthy parent-child relationships: Structure, Nurture, Engagement and Challenge.

Theraplay hands


The therapist trains the parents in using Theraplay® activities with their child/young person. These activities duplicate (regardless of age) the kind of playful behaviour and fun games which parents and young children naturally engage in together. The games provide a fun way for the parent/carer to physically touch and engage with their child. The physical engagement mirrors a form of play used with young children. This can help to break down barriers and defences in the child and develop an increased trust between the child and their parent/carer.

The increased trust between the child and their parent is done as the therapist explicitly guides the parent in the activities: to notice the child’s expressions; to go slower or faster in a game to match the child’s need; to touch the child in a way that’s nurturing but not overstimulating. This helps to improve the attachment, give the child a positive view of their self and so makes the relationship for both parent and child more positive and rewarding. Because Theraplay® works in the “here and now” at the pre-verbal, pre-symbolic level, it benefits children who are not developmentally or emotionally prepared for non-directive Play Therapy.

Theraplay® usually takes 3-6 months to complete in the case of minor disruption, although it may last longer depending on the complexity of the child’s needs and relationship difficulties.

Please contact Debra at for detailed play therapy quotation.

Jernberg, A.M., Booth, P.B., (2001) “Theraplay: Helping Parents and Children Build Better Relationships Through Attachment-Based Play”, San Fransisco, USA, Jossey Bass publishers.