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Theraplay is a proactive, intensive, relationship focused parent-child therapy that can be helpful when working with children from foster/adoptive backgrounds who may have had trauma or attachment disruptions. The principles behind theraplay are based on attachment theory, intersubjectivity, and brain research. This model has been utilized for over 35 years and has extensive research to prove its effectiveness in improving the parent-child relationship. The therapy model utilizes guided interaction from a therapist and reflection focused on helping the parent becoming more available, responsive, and attuned to their child. The most common presenting problems that Theraplay can be helpful with include ADD, ODD, PTSD, RAD, Autism Spectrum, Developmental delays, and children presenting with anxiety, depression, and anger.

What can families expect? - If a family chooses to utilize Theraplay principles, they will first have an assessment done to determine the interaction style of parent and child. The four capacities that are evaluated include structure, engagement, nurture, and challenge. Once an understanding of attachment styles of parent and child have been determined, psychoeducation and activity modeling will be provided by the therapist. This can be done in the CHI office or in the comfort of the family’s home. This can be utilized both short-term or on a long-term basis if families need a refresher or check-in sessions. The goal is to reshape the inner working model of a child so that they can better self-regulate, as well as trust their caregiver to help meet their physical and emotional needs. These are two things that children from foster care or adoption backgrounds often miss out on in early development, so we are working to repair those connections that they so desperately need to function in a healthy and appropriate way.

Ashley Luis, LMFT #83805, has completed the Level One Introductory Theraplay and Marschak Interaction Method training on September 16-19, 2013 for a total of 26 hours. She has also completed the Level Two Theraplay and Marschak Interaction Method training on March 9-11, 2015 for a total of 19.5 hours. Although she is not a certified Theraplay Therapist, she has a basic understanding of the principles and can incorporate those into therapeutic services for our adoptive families.

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