Theraplay

Kids in Preschool

I am Level One trained in Theraplay and the Marschak Interaction Method (MIM).

Theraplay is a play-based, attachment-driven model intended to provide in-vivo access to the very elements that constitute what is known as a "secure" parent-child relationship: 1) trustworthy and predictable containment

2) attunement and mutual enjoyment of one another 3) tender nurturance and confirmation of self-worth and

4) courageous exploration and mastery development. As play therapist and The Theraplay Institute clinical director, Phyllis Booth, describes, Theraplay entails a succession of "empathic interactions" in which "the child gains a true sense of herself and the parent sees the child for who she is. Theraplay helps parents respond to their child's needs rather than imposing their own view of what those needs might be."

 

This method is not an insight-oriented, interpretative, or cognitive form of "talk therapy;" instead, Theraplay is a highly interactive, in-the-moment, action-based, parent-child approach. The heavy emphasis on hands-on, experiential involvement is because brain maturation is experience-dependent: actually engaging in a behavior stimulates and expedites the birth and growth of neural networks in a way incomparable to simply talking about concerns. In the world of neuropsychology, the adage, 'Actions speak louder than words,' is biologically, right on-point.

 

While practicing Theraplay, I assist parents with replicating early means of relational communication, namely, the use of eye contact, facial expression, prosody (vocal pattern and intonation), imitation, and multisensory stimulation. The aim of Theraplay is to recruit the parent as a leading figure in broadening a child's window of tolerance. The term, "window of tolerance," refers to the zone of arousal in which an individual most optimally functions. Hyperarousal (which can manifest as excessive anxiety or aggression) exists above the ceiling of this window whereas hypoarousal (which may appear as spaciness or emotional shutdown) is positioned below the floor of this window. In Theraplay, the intent is to expand the boundaries of this autonomic zone in order to improve a child's capacity to flexibly and resiliently cope with present and future life stressors. Thus, a typical Theraplay session would involve a series of up- and downregulatory activities. For instance, if the client is an infant or toddler, this might entail a game of peek-a-boo followed by a gentle massage followed by a cotton ball war and so on. The methodic and gradual stretching of a child's window of tolerance by the parent dually reduces presenting treatment concerns while simultaneously strengthening the parent-child relationship.   

 

A client's specific treatment needs are in part, informed by the Marschak Interaction Method (MIM). The MIM is a structured, play-based, parent-child assessment procedure that assists in revealing attachment-related strengths and vulnerabilities. When completing the MIM, I silently observe interactions between a parent and child when presented with various play opportunities. At the close of the MIM, I provide clinical recommendations and collaborate with the parent in identifying an appropriate treatment plan.

Quoted material was derived from the following source:

Booth, P., & Jernberg, A. (2010). Theraplay: Helping parents and children build better relationships through attachment-based play. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.