A 10 Session Filial Therapy Model
Based on the work of Garry L. Landreth and Sue C. Bratton
Parents are in the best position to profoundly impact the lives of the adults of tomorrow. By providing this therapeutic intervention to parents they can become the agents who improve the mental health of their children.
Filial therapy applies the structure and the skills of child-centred play therapy (CCPT) to parent and child relationships in a manner similar to the relationship between play therapist and a child. As in CCPT the parent is taught to facilitate a permissive and growth-producing environment in which the child can reach their full potential.
The focus of CPRT is on the importance of the relationship between the parent and child and on what the child is capable of becoming; to assist the parent in seeing the world through their child’s eyes. The objective is to help the parent relate to the child in ways that will release the child’s inner directional, constructive, forward-moving, creative, self-healing power. It does not focus on solving specific problems or a ‘quick fix’, but rather is structured to enhance the relationship of parent and child, to facilitate the parent serving as the therapeutic agent of change. CPRT aims to enhance and strengthen the parent-child relationship by improving interactions, offering problem-solving strategies, facilitating increased feelings of affection, warmth and trust.
CPRT can be provided to individuals or couples if required
Our service is founded on the principles of Carl Rogers and the Person-Centred Approach and all our psychotherapists/counsellors embrace and work within these values. Person-centred therapy focuses upon the power of the relationship between the therapist and the client to affect change. Given the right relationship the individual has within themselves the capacity for growth, change and development. Counselling is a collaborative effort, offering confidentiality in a warm, safe environment. By providing compassion, understanding and acceptance it enables the client to express their true feelings without fear of judgement. “The desire to be understood – truly and deeply understood – is a universal yearning. It is part of our human hunger for contact and for relationship”. (Erskine) We specialise in working with children and young people but also provide counselling for adults. When working with children and young people we initially focus on developing a therapeutic relationship in order to provide a “secure base” to promote safe self-exploration. As we know one way of working does not fit all therefore from this “secure base” the psychotherapists/counsellors work in an integrative way to establish, with the young person, what the best approach is in order to meet their needs.
Adoption is an arrangement for the upbringing of children whose parents by birth are no longer able to care for them. It is an arrangement which is socially recognised and regulated and, as such, reflects the current values of society. Adoption evokes strong emotions, touching as it does ideas and feelings about the family, belonging, parenting, separation, attachment, loss, heredity and environment. These emotions are not only experienced by the adoptee but also family and friends of both the birth and adoptive family.
The Adoption and Children Act 2002 requires that counselling for anyone whose life has been affected by adoption i.e. adoptees, adopters, adoptive family members, or birth family members, must be carried out by a registered adoptions counsellor. At Time to Listen we have counsellors trained and registered to provide adoption counselling.
Art Therapy uses art as the main form of communication. Using this approach does not mean that the client has to have any previous experience, knowledge or skill of art. The therapist is not focusing on the finished image, the aim is to enable the client explore and possibly gain awareness of their situation with the use of art materials in a safe and therapeutic environment.
As with all therapies the therapeutic relationship is essential, however with art therapy it differs in that it becomes a three way process involving the client, the therapist and the image or object produced. Working in this way allows for expression and communication, often without the need for the spoken word, and can be a very useful approach with people who find it difficult to express themselves verbally.
Our Art therapists are qualified and experienced practitioners who have a considerable understanding of art and work with both individuals and groups.
Developing a secure attachment to a primary caregiver is extremely important for a child's ability to trust and for the development of intimate relationships in adulthood. It is also associated with emotional regulation and the development of the individual’s identity. What is often overlooked is the power of the attachment that forms between mother and child before birth, in-utero. It is this bonding, that if severed, either at birth or later, can cause what is often referred to as the ‘Primal Wound’, a lesion so deep that it may never heal and the cause of so much pain and trauma.
So for children who have been removed from their parents, for whatever reason, they may be carrying this ‘wound’ in addition to being separated from their family and their genetic heritage. This separation and loss can impact on their sense of identity, self-esteem and confidence, ability to trust and form close loving relationships. It is normal for the child to question who they are, who their parents are, why they could not or would not parent them and what this means for themselves. However the search for these answers can be traumatic and debilitating, causing friction and distress within their adopted family.
The focus of this therapy is to help the adoptive parents, or long-term foster carers, assist the child in the process of healing. The emphasis is on encouraging the bonding between the child and the ‘new’ parents in order to build trust, reliability, respect, enjoyment and fun. It involves the parents being open to explore, discuss and if necessary resolve any of their own issues alongside the issues brought by the child.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is an intervention that focuses on the same energy fields as traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments, but without the use of needles. It involves a simple process of tapping with the fingertips to input kinetic energy to the upper body, whilst thinking of a specific event and voicing positive affirmations. The combination of tapping, thoughts and positive affirmations works to clear the emotional block from the body’s bioenergy system, thereby restoring the mind body balance.
This technique is easy to learn and to use and involves no drugs and has been shown to help reduce stress and release individuals from painful emotions associated with past events.
“I can honestly say the therapy is the best thing that has ever happened to me”
“Through the therapy I’ve learned to look at things differently and with a new confidence in myself” (Statements by Service Users)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a recognised and well-researched therapy for overcoming Trauma, Stress, Anxiety and Phobias. When bad or unpleasant things happen you may experience such strong emotions that your brain can become overwhelmed. When this happens the brain does not process the information as it should, by separating the event from the emotion, it stores it in the original ‘raw’ format. The effects of this are that when remembering the event, or a similar event or an association with the event, it can trigger a flash back, panic attack or a total re-traumatisation and can therefore be very distressing and unbearable. It can affect a part or all of your life, including the ability to work or study.
EMDR does not rely on a ‘talking’ therapy, as often talking about the problem can cause re-traumatisation. However it is not a stand-alone therapy; it is essential that a therapeutic relationship is established in order to acquire trust, both in the therapist and the process, and to feel safe and held when working through the issues brought. EMDR involves working with how the brain works, on a conscious and unconscious level, by stimulating the natural information processing tendencies of the brain, resulting in a decrease in symptoms and gaining a different perspective allowing for new associations, insights and better functioning in life.
EMDR is highly effective, preferred by clients and generally of shorter duration than other therapy methods.
I also work with families with children who have symptoms of emotional disorders, including complex and disorders of attachment in their care. The Attachment Focused Family Therapy (Dyadic) approach includes the therapist and the parent working together with the child. It is a model of treatment which aims to strengthen relationships within the family unit.
Applying the main therapeutic attitude of Dyadic psychotherapy throughout the sessions is one of Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy (PACE). This is demonstrated to the parents with the child in order for them to create safety and security, helping them maintain emotional engagement with the child.
Dyadic therapy supports family members to develop healthier patterns of relating and communicating with each other, enabling them to create a safe secure environment for them all to feel connected. This then reduces levels of fear, shame or blame between the family members, as each member learns to be open and develop reciprocal relationships.
Adults have a tendency to disregard or belittle their childhood experiences, often appearing reluctant to acknowledge that their difficulties and struggles are anything out of the ordinary, and certainly nothing remarkable. Denying what has happened in this way works as a powerful defence mechanism, minimising childhood experiences and blocking out any pain or suffering that may have been experienced. However by denying their experiences they are also denying their Inner Child, leaving it abandoned, isolated and unacknowledged in its role as survivor. Research suggests that many physical and emotional ailments are as a result of us disregarding our childhood experiences. Therefore by locating the Inner Child and no longer denying the difficulties the child experienced can assist in improving and developing self-compassion, self-confidence, self-esteem and feeling physically and mentally healthier.
The approach we use is a combination of the non-dominant hand technique, a method promoted by Lucia Capacchione, alongside working in a person-centred way in exploring childhood memories. Helping the client to stand in their child’s shoes and experience their childhood from that perspective. Capacchione suggests that our non-writing hand has withered from not being used and has not developed from the early years. Using this hand can allow us immediate access to the primarily non-verbal right brain, responsible for our emotional expression and intuition as well as governing our visual/spatial perception. Irrelevant of whether a person is right or left handed it appears that this phenomenon holds true. By using the non-dominant hand the client is able to express their feelings more frankly and powerfully, tapping into the instinctive and emotional memory necessary for healing the Inner Child. The idea is to write a dialogue with the non-dominant hand representing the Child, and the dominant (writing) hand representing the adult self (or sometimes the Inner Parent) therefore communicating with both hemispheres of the brain and encouraging understanding, acceptance and empathy.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is an approach that works with the components involved in producing human experience: neurology, language and programming. NLP focuses on the dynamics between mind, language and how their interplay affects the body and behaviour. It is particularly effective for issues involving self-awareness, requiring effective communication and changing patterns of mental and emotional behaviour.
NLP involves understanding behaviour in relation to how our brains work. It focuses on strategic thinking, flexibility and competence. It will provide tools to change behaviour, become self-empowered, and develop self-belief, growth, wisdom and vision.
“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” (Plato)
Play is the language of the child; it is the most important way a child can make sense of their world. It is central to their emotional and social wellbeing. Play allows a child to find meaning by sorting, solving and resolving experiences and encourage their imagination. It allows mastering and learning and time to negotiate a relationship between inner and outer reality.
We have a natural force that drives us towards maturity, independence and self-direction. However to achieve this we need to find out who we are in an atmosphere of acceptance and understanding.
“A child will not change until the child is free not to change” (Landreth).
It is a way of working that is familiar to the child, the natural medium of play. It allows the child to express their feelings, thoughts and behaviours in a safe and controlled environment, and in their own time and at their own pace.
Play therapy will take place in a specially equipped playroom containing a large selection of toys, small figures and animals, musical instruments, puppets, books, art and craft materials. The Play Therapist will be accepting, understanding, friendly and sensitive to the needs of the child; enabling them to use the resources in order to express themselves.
As play is the language of the child it provides an opportunity for them to ‘speak’ about what is important to them at any given time. They are in command of themselves and can play out any pent up feelings such as frustration, tension, confusion, fear, aggression, insecurity, rejection. Play is vital for a child’s whole development.
The therapy helps the child express themselves and begin to make sense of the world around them and cope better with their future. They often learn how to manage relationships better and deal with conflicts in a more appropriate way.
As all children’s situations and needs are different it is difficult to be specific. However some children will reach a good place in around 12 sessions, but for others it may take longer. When problems have persisted for a long time or if their situation is complex they may require the therapist to be involved for longer. Sessions are usually weekly for around 45 minutes and if possible on the same day and time as this is best for the child, particularly in order to develop the therapeutic relationship.
In play therapy it is essential that the child feels safe, comfortable and most importantly, understood . When they do the therapeutic relationship will develop and along with it trust. Once the child learns to trust the therapist it becomes easier for them to express themselves and gain the most out of the therapy.
An essential feature of counselling is that what a child says or does in the session is treated confidentially in order to maintain the child’s trust in the therapist. Parents/Carers will however be kept up to date with progress and have an opportunity to discuss any changes or developments that they may have experienced at home.
If however the therapist is concerned that the child is being harmed, is hurting themselves or others they may need to share this information with other professionals. They will usually talk to the Parent/Carer about this first.
Supporting your child through the process of therapy is very important. Please…
Sand tray therapy involves working with either sand, either dry wet or both, and using miniature toys and objects to enable creative expression. It is often used with children but can be very effective with adults, adolescents, couples, families and groups.
It allows the client to construct their own micro-world using the objects of their choice, with the creation acting as a reflection of the client’s own life. Such reflection is often on a subconscious level, which allows the opportunity to gain awareness, resolve conflicts, identify and possibly remove obstacles and connect with the inner self.
When dealing with situations involving highly charged emotions it is not always possible to find the right words to describe feelings, thoughts or actions. By being invited to work with the sand it enables freedom of expression without the reliance on words. Some clients can initially be skeptical about working in this way, as they feel restricted by their imagination. However with an open mind the rusty creative part of our brains can be accessed and imagination can be increased, which can lead to expressing the ‘unexpressible’.
Although this approach may look like child’s play, it is a highly therapeutic and complex form of therapy that can provide immense emotional release and insight for a client.
Transactional Analysis was founded by Eric Berne (1970). It is a theory of personality, communication and child development. The theory explains how we as individuals function in society using transactions to connect and respond with self in relation to other.
This type of psychotherapy focuses on the therapeutic relationship being respectful, non -judgmental and gives equal value to both the client and the psychotherapist creating an I’m Ok-You’re Ok relationship.
Transactional Analysis explains how our adult pattern of life originated in childhood. The terminology used in the theory is written for all to understand and clients are often encouraged to be included in the theoretical models used. This enables us to develop insight into our inner most thoughts, feelings, behaviours towards self, others and the world.
It is only when we gain awareness of how we are in relationships that we can then start to re-decide, and change the beliefs we internalised in childhood. These beliefs can be positive or negative and impact our daily lives which at times can be destructive to self and our relationships whether professional or personal. Dealing with our past experiences can allow us to get needs met as adults, that in childhood were missed.
Psychotherapy supports growth and change intrapsychically for all psychological disorders. As well as a method of therapy for use with individuals, groups, couples and families.
Using the key principles
— people are OK,
— everyone has the capacity to think
— that people decide their own destiny, and these decisions can be changed
Using Transactional Analysis with psychotherapy can facilitate the client’s capacity for self -actualization and healing by learning to recognize and change old, self- limiting patterns of behaviour and attitude. Individuals can then create and maintain effective relationships which are meaningful and enriching.
Gaining autonomy, awareness, spontaneity, problem solving and intimacy so that we can own our thoughts, feelings and behaviour appropriate for the here and now situations.
“The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness”