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Theraplay was developed in the 1960’s in America and is a form of focused therapy designed to enhance attachments between parents and children. Theraplay activities are playful, fun and developmentally enhancing and are designed to be practiced with a therapist as well as at home.

Secure attachment behaviour is only possible when a child is not living in a state of constant traumatisation. Theraplay theorists have identified four essential elements for secure attachment:

  • Appropriate level of structure
  • Nurture
  • Engagement
  • Developmental challenge

In Theraplay, the first step is an assessment of these four elements in the child-parent relationship called a Marshak Interaction Method assessment (MIM). After the MIM assessment there is a parent’s session or sessions depending on what is appropriate to feedback the results of the MIM assessment and to prepare for the Theraplay intervention. The outcome of this assessment will determine the sort of activities that the therapist will support the child and parent to engage in. Each activity will work to redress any imbalance or deficit in the four elements.  The intervention will be a series of parent and child sessions with regular review to discuss the progress of the sessions and to evaluate the effectiveness of the programme.

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