I have helped families have greater understanding of their relational dynamics, acknowledge their inherent strengths, speak from their hearts, cultivate greater empathy for each family member, resolve underlying tensions, and better comprehend the meaning of and practice more effective interventions in their children's behaviors.
During the assessment phase, I meet with parents to gather family history, information about the current situation and challenges, and what interventions parents have already tried. I encourage the whole family to come in for the next session so I can understand more about your family's dynamics and for your child to get familiar with the space. I meet with parents again to provide recommendations for therapy and collaborate ongoingly with you about goals and at home interventions to best support your child and family.
All parents strive for loving and deep connections with their children, but sometimes conflicts and power struggles arise and get in the way of sharing sweet moments together. I come from a strengths-based perspective and help parents look at their triggers to guide and provide them with tools. Sometimes looking at your family of origin dynamics is useful to understand what might be getting in the way of responding appropriately and being present with your child.
Filial therapy is a well-studied, evidence based treatment. Research shows it can benefit both parents and children by facilitating more securely attached relationships and skill building when children face behavioral and psychosocial challenges and transitions. Filial therapy is parent-child relational therapy for parents who would like to work directly with their child to build trust and strengthen their bond. It is a culturally sensitive psychotherapeutic educational model for parents who want to learn tools to directly support their child.
This methodology is indicated for children ages 3-11 years old and when there has been a particularly challenging separation as it supports the bond between each parent and their child. Or when parents want to understand what's at the heart of their child's challenging behaviors, and practice limit setting in a play environment.
I coach parents to learn new ways of relating to their child in special play sessions in my office. I guide you to learn and practice skills when your child is going through a big transition such as going to a new school, getting a new sibling, separation/divorce, a death in the family, or exhibiting challenging behaviors that leave you feeling confused and frustrated.
It’s much like child-centered (or non-directive) play therapy in that parents learn how to use skills that a child therapist utilizes such as empathic listening (being very present with and reflective of your child’s emotions, reactions, behavior), as well as boundaries and limit setting. All of which support a more secure attachment. Together, we look at themes that emerge during play in order to better respond to the struggles happening in the child’s internal world. I coach parents directly to learn some child-centered play therapy skills, model the methodology, and give support with how to generalize these skills to everyday life.
Throughout the process, the child's sense of trust and healthy attachment to you increases and they have the experience of feeling more deeply understood. The result is that the relationship is strengthened, parents are more attuned to what’s going on internally with their child, and more able to navigate and assuage difficult behaviors at home. Parents and I work collaboratively to come up with specific interventions you can implement outside of our sessions.
Sequence of Filial sessions
So you can be more prepared about what to expect in this process, I have outlined a general format of the sequence of sessions. It can vary as families have different needs, but in general, expect that you will come in for about 20-25 sessions.
2-3 sessions: Initial evaluation & assessment
I gather family history and information about challenges and goals. This includes one or more family therapy sessions with entire family.
1 session: You witness me doing non-directive play therapy
I demonstrate a modified child-centered play therapy session with your child as you observe the skills that you will learn to hold special play sessions. I address any questions you have, give recommendations for therapy, and collaborate with you about the next steps.
3 sessions: Mock play (Parents learn the Filial skills)
We work together so that you can learn the skills. I support and give feedback about how to conduct the special play sessions with your child through lively and fun role plays, feedback, and discussion.
Filial play therapy
Once you feel that you grasp the methods and structure of conducting the special play sessions, you bring in your child so I can observe. I will give feedback and answer questions in a call after each session.
Transferring special play sessions from in-office to home
I support you in managing how to conduct the half hour sessions at home with your child. We can have in person or phone consultations to continue discussing progress and issues that may arise. We look at how to apply these skills in your life outside of the special play sessions.
3 sessions: Discharge planning & final assessment
As the parent-child bond grows stronger and behavior improves, we determine the need for ongoing support.
In Filial & Family Therapy,