What is Theraplay?

Theraplay is a dyadic child and family therapy that has been recognized by the Association of Play Therapy as one of seven seminal psychotherapies for children. Developed over 50 years ago, and practiced around the world, Theraplay was developed for any professional working to support healthy child/caregiver attachment. Strong attachment between the child and the important adults in their life has long been believed to be the basis of lifelong good mental health as well as the mainstay of resilience in the face of adversity. Modern brain research and the field of neuroscience have shown that attachment is the way in which children come to understand, trust and thrive in their world.

Building Relationships from the Inside Out

In treatment, the Theraplay Practitioner guides the parent and child through playful, fun games, developmentally challenging activities, and tender, nurturing activities. The very act of engaging each other in this way helps the parent regulate the child's behavior and communicate love, joy, and safety to the child. It helps the child feel secure, cared for, connected and worthy.

Core Concepts

The Theraplay Clinic

At The Theraplay Institute, we understand that committing to therapy for your child is a major decision, often made when the family is in crisis or has "tried everything else." One of the major advantages of Theraplay is that the change can happen very quickly once the treatment begins.

About Our Clinic

Peer Reviewed Studies on Theraplay


Theraplay is Represented Globally!

International Impact

The Theraplay Institute is Here to Help You

About TTI

Theraplay builds relationships from the inside out.

And we've been nurturing families and building relationships in 58 countries since 1975.

Theraplay Testimonials

As an integrated clinician, I am eternally grateful for this wonderful technique, deceptively simple, amazingly accessible, and tested over decades with thousands of parent-child dyads. It’s application is without bounds, and my purpose here is to encourage clinicians to think about Theraplay as a therapy of choice for trauma and its subsequent clinical issues.

Eliana Gil, Ph.D.

My son is a whole new boy. I have not had to restrain him in months, and there is no more self-mutilation. He is compassionate, loveable and considerate. He can play and take turns, and he trusts adults. He turned six recently, and I feel that there is so much hope now. When we first came to The Theraplay Institute, we were afraid that we could not be the forever family we had promised him. Now we can fulfill that promise. If I had not come to The Theraplay Institute, we would probably not be together today.

I highly recommend Theraplay. Based on my principles of attachment, Theraplay enables parents and their children – of all ages – to again experience reciprocal joy and interests, cooperation and delight. This provides them with safety and sense of closeness which creates a context where ongoing conflicts and worrisome behaviors are likely to decrease.

Dan Hughes, Ph.D.

Until my introduction to Theraplay, I struggled to successfully engage Ellen in physically intimate and challenging ways. Now, I can truly say that Theraplay has shown me ways to engage with children irrespective of age, ability or needs.

Theraplay is an efficient mode of therapy. Theraplay seamlessly incorporates within a play environment several elements that are shared with models of psychotherapy. From a Polyvagal perspective Theraplay respects the biobehavior state of the child, applies therapists initiated social engagement strategies to trigger a state of safety in the child, and promotes synchronous reciprocal interactions as a neural exercise that increases social flexibility and improves emotion regulation.

Stephen Porges, Ph.D.

Of all the services we engaged to help this child, Theraplay had the most immediate and lasting effect on Amanda, as well as our family. Amanda is now 17, is the blessing of my life and a model young woman. Without Theraplay, I would not have seen this happy ending.

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