Journal Article

Filial Therapy: Helping Children and New Carers to Form Secure Attachment Relationships

Virginia Ryan

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 37, issue 4, pages 643-657
Published in print June 2007 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online October 2005 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Filial Therapy: Helping Children and New Carers to Form Secure Attachment Relationships

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This article discusses a method of combined play therapy/family therapy for looked after and late adopted children and their carers, namely Filial Therapy. Recently introduced into the UK, Filial Therapy’s well-developed practice base and growing body of research findings in North American are presented here. The rationale for employing the method of non-directive play therapy, on which Filial Therapy is based, with children who have been maltreated is outlined. Case vignettes are used to demonstrate that Filial Therapy is suitable for using with children who have multiple problems, since it is attachment oriented as well as able to help children address their traumatic, abusive memories and emotional defences through play. Filial Therapy also helps carers develop stronger and more adaptive relationships with their children, reducing their stress levels and heightening their care-giving responses. Filial Therapy seems highly viable as a robust, cost-effective, treatment strategy to strengthen new and troubled placements. However, there remain important questions to be addressed via future research in the UK.

Keywords: filial therapy; attachment therapy; non-directive play therapy; child maltreatment; looked after and late adopted children

Journal Article.  6185 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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