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8 Things You Need to Know About Theraplay

Posted on Monday, 21 November 2016, in Parenting & Families, Treatments & Therapy

8 things about theraplay

Theraplay is a structured form of play therapy supporting parents and children to feel more connected. The aim is to enhance attachment, self-esteem and trust in others.

Here – Louise Shuttleworth, Psychotherapist and Clinical Partner Brighton, explains more about Theraplay:


  • Developed in the USA in the 1980s by Phyllis Booth, a scientist, it has become increasingly recognised as highly beneficial in supporting attachment difficulties with parents and children.
  • It works by regulating the lower brain stem which supports a child’s emotional regulation. The promotion of touch in theraplay is unique and there is lots of evidence which shows how theraplay can really help children gain more emotional regulation.
  • Theraplay is useful for a wide variety of children, including those who are withdrawn, depressed, over active, aggressive, have phobias or fine difficulty in socialising. Children with learning disabilities and developmental delays also benefit hugely from theraplay.
  • Because of its focus on attachment it has been often used in the area of adoption and fostering.
  • The process consists of around 20 sessions. There is an initial assessment session where Engagement, Structure, Nurture and Challenge activities are offered to a parent and child. Based on that, a therapist then devises a plan of activities that will best suit the process.
  • Parents are heavily involved with 1 in 4 sessions solely for parents to assess ongoing progress and allow the therapist to tailor the activities to support ongoing needs.
  • The sessions are interactive, playful and last around 20-40 minutes. The sessions may include singing, rocking, ball games and it also includes a snack and in this way, lots of the above four activities are woven in. Many the activities are highly accessible to parents and many are non- verbal including supporting the therapist to model caring touch.
  • The most common age group to be offered this ranges from 0 to 12 however there are specially tailored sessions for adolescents and groups.


If you are interested in Theraplay please call 0203 761 7026 to speak to one of our clinical advisors about how we can help.

Clinical Partners have a nationwide team of Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Psychotherapists who are able to help children, adolescents and families with a wide variety of mental health needs.

Louise Shuttleworth

Louise Shuttleworth Psychotherapist Dip Psych & Counselling, BSC Hons, Dip Adip

Louise Shuttleworth is a UKCP and BACP Accredited Psychotherapist and Psychological Coach who has a wealth of experience working with adults, young people and couples. Louise offers long and short term psychotherapy for the full range of issues including depression, OCD, and eating disorders.

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