Integrating Play Therapy in the Home-Based Setting Module

Module Sections:

Overview of Filial Therapy

Because Filial Therapy incorporates both parents and children, it can be seen as a cross between play and family therapy. Two methods of conducting Filial therapy are most common: group and individual.


With less difficult issues, Landreth's 10-Week Group Filial Therapy model is used (Ryan, 2007). This involves taking a group of parents and training them in the Filial therapy methods and skills. The parent(s) are encouraged to practice in a play session at home, with indirect supervision from the therapist. This occurs over a 10-week period of time. The parent will often videotape the special play time with the child and review the tapes with the therapist. The therapist assists the parent in establishing boundaries, maintaining consistency with the few rules established, and building in encouragement and support for the child's positive interactions.


With moderate levels of difficulty, individual Filial work is conducted over a 20-week period. In the individual sessions, each child has individual sessions with parent(s). The model includes:

  • Assessment phase in which family members have initial interviews and give consent to work with the Filial Therapy program.
  • Observation of the family in a play session by the filial therapist.
  • Demonstration session in which the therapists demonstrates a mock Filial Therapy session for the child/children and parents
  • Parent training period lasting usually three sessions in which the therapist demonstrates helpful skills and tools for the parents in order to assist their children through the therapy process
  • Six directly supervised play sessions with responses from the therapist (Ryan, 2007). After this last stage, the play sessions are conducted within the home setting and occur less frequently in the office setting.There is a more indirect supervision process for about ten sessions when the therapist is viewing the videotapes with the parents. Throughout the filial therapy process, the therapist provides feedback and helps the parents to generalize and incorporate their new play and parenting skills into everyday life (Ryan, 2007).

Within the Home

One of the indications for using home-based therapy is to help the family who has difficulty generalizing the work done in the office to the home environment. Filial Therapy is a natural process used by the home-based therapist because much of the work of filial therapy occurs in the home. By using this approach, therapists can assess the home environment and the interactions between the parent and child.. This not only allows the therapist to determine whether Filial therapy is the appropriate approach to use with each family, but it also provides the therapist with an "inside look" at the interactions and situations that take place at home. The therapist is able to adjust techniques, skills, and approaches to fit the needs of the family.

Therapists who work in the home may find it easier to do the following things :

  • Determine if the participants will respond positively to Filial therapy
  • Create a needs assessment
  • Assess the home environment
  • Assess the family interactions
  • Assess the cultural dynamic of the family
  • Teach the skills and practice them within the setting in which they will be used

Audio Companion: Integrating Play Therapy