Treatment Protocol

At The Theraplay Institute, we understand that committing to therapy for your child is a major decision, often made when the family is in crises or has “tried everything else.” One of the major advantages of Theraplay is that change can happen very quickly once treatment begins. So, even though the first sessions are more about “getting to know you and your child”, you will probably notice significant progress shortly thereafter.

Your first appointment is an information-gathering interview, preferably with both parents. Next, we ask you and your child to complete a set of simple tasks together, such as make two toy animals play with each other. This is called the Marschak Interaction Method (MIM) assessment. The MIM is videotaped, and your therapist will look at the video in preparation for your next appointment at which you and your therapist will discuss the interaction between you and your child and the therapist’s recommendation for treatment.

At your next session, your therapist will demonstrate with you the Theraplay activities in order to familiarize you with what to expect. Theraplay activities are playful and fun, and done in combinations that focus on your child’s needs for structure, engagement, nurture and challenge—the four Theraplay dimensions.

Then, Theraplay treatment begins with your child. After every three Theraplay sessions, your therapist will meet with you without your child to discuss progress and goals and to help you support the Theraplay treatment at home.

Typically, the total number of sessions is 19-28, with four follow-up sessions over the next year.

Treatment Plan for Families Created Through Foster Care or Adoption

Children who have experienced separation, loss, trauma, multiple caregivers or institutional care typically need more help than the standard Theraplay treatment protocol described above.

Our assessment process may lead to a recommendation of more sessions, longer sessions or more frequent sessions. While Theraplay treatment is often recommended in the early appointments in order to strengthen the parent-child relationship (attachment), eventually your child might need to process the past using other protocols such as Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP). Many of the therapists at The Theraplay Institute are cross-trained in DDP and experienced in combining it with Theraplay treatment.

A significant aspect of your treatment plan is supporting you in your role as an adoptive/foster parent. We will teach you about why your child behaves the way they do based upon the latest scientific research about the developing brain and attachment. You will learn why your child’s unique background requires a different parenting style than you might have expected—therapeutic parenting. Many of the therapists at The Theraplay Institute are trained in Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) and are experienced in empowering parents to use the therapeutic parenting strategies in TBRI.

In all cases, our therapists will be sensitive to your family’s needs and make appropriate referrals for services that cannot be provided at the Institute.

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What is The Theraplay Institute?

The Theraplay Institute

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