[Back to Academics & Researchers]

The Theraplay Institute is committed to research

The Theraplay Institute is committed to supporting research in Theraplay. This includes Individual/Family Theraplay, Group Theraplay, and Whole Family Theraplay. We support research in multiple ways:

  • Providing Theraplay and MIM training to therapists involved in research projects.
  • Providing Theraplay and MIM supervision to therapists and onsite supervisors
  • Providing consultation in the development of research projects on Theraplay on in writing grant proposals

Please contact us to tell us about your research or to ask for research assistance. The Theraplay Institute is currently offering a research scholarship opportunity to an eligible Ph.D. student. For more information click here.

For more information about Theraplay research or do receive assistance with your own research project, please contact our Research Director, Catherine Tucker, PhD, LMHC, RPT/S


Kelley Munger HeadShot

Congratulations to our scholarship recipient, Kelley Munger!

Kelley Munger is a doctoral student in the Early Intervention program at the University of Oregon. Kelley is developing specialty areas focused on perinatal and infant mental health, family-centered intervention, and caregiver disruptions in early childhood. She is currently involved in research examining trauma-informed intervention in early childhood settings as well as research examining mental health needs in rural China. Kelley also holds a master’s in counseling and a master’s degree in teaching and works with families and educators in a variety of contexts as a licensed professional counselor, trainer, and supervisor. She is pleased to collaborate with the Theraplay Institute to study social and emotional assessment in populations of young children at-risk for social and emotional delays. 

Kelley enjoys reading, gardening, and camping with her family on the beautiful Oregon coast.



Theraplay furthers targeted areas of research

Theraplay’s unique characteristics further research in the following areas.

Broad therapy categories and populations of interest:

  • Attachment-based therapy with children
  • Therapy with children under six years of age
  • Pre-verbal, non-verbal, right-brained therapeutic approaches
  • Therapy for foster and adoptive children needing help to emotionally connect with parents
  • Therapy with children on the autism spectrum to build social skills and capacity for engagement
  • Difficult, hard-to-reach children who do not improve with traditional approaches (Developmental Trauma/Reactive Attachment Disorder; Oppositional Defiant Disorder; Hyperactivity)
  • Groups of children, parents, or adults to increase functioning together (whole families; classrooms; counseling groups, in-patient settings)

Specific aspects of Theraplay as targets for studies in curative factors and therapeutic effectiveness:

  • Transferring the expertise of the practitioner to the parent.
  • Increasing mindfulness and awareness (attunement) in the parent.
  • Increasing receptivity and responsivity of the child to the parent.
  • Increasing dyadic regulation of behavior and emotion.
  • Using structured dyadic play to improve relating and attachment
    Using guided adult-child play to reduce level of stress in children.
  • Using affective synchrony rhythm, resonance, and mirror neuron function to improve relationships between children and adults
  • Experiencing primary intersubjectivity (“now moments”) within the therapist-adult-child relationship
    Creating a non-congruent corrective experience
  • Adult-guided experience balanced with warmth and support
  • Adult being responsive, attuned to vitality affects, empathic, and reflective vis a vis the child.
  • Therapeutic multisensory experiences
  • Co-regulation of affect through play

Research projects in process are:

Coleman, Rand, PA and The Theraplay Institute (TTI), Multi-site study of children with oppositional defiant disorder.

Coleman, Rand, Comparison study of intensive family therapy services with autistic children in residential care: comprehensive family and child services that include Theraplay will be compared with the current, traditional agency treatment. The Devereux Foundation.

Hong, Rana, Assessing outcomes of Theraplay based identity workshop in promoting a sense of self- identity among immigrant children of the Indian sub-continents. Loyola University of Chicago School of Social Work.

Lindaman, Sandra, TTI, Multinational case studies of Theraplay for children with Selective Mutism.

Makela, Jukka, Lassenius-Panula, Lotta, Salo, Saara, University of Helsinki Study of 20 Clinical Families.

Siu, Angela, Hong Kong, Group Theraplay.

Winstead, Marlo, Group work Kansas City Urban Youth program, University of Kansas School of Social Work.


For Researchers