What is Group Filial Therapy?

Parents are fully involved in Group Filial Therapy, and are supported in becoming the catalysts of positive change in their own families. Because of the group format parents are also able to share in the experiences of others—learning through shared experiences and gaining support from others. Parents are trained by  experienced therapists who enable them to provide a creative therapeutic process through which their child can safely rework experiences and issues. The therapist helps the parents to think about the child’s play in terms of the insights they can gain about their child’s thoughts and feelings. This helps the parent to understand their child’s motivations, intentions and behaviours in context. As sessions evolve the therapist helps the parent to generalise what they have learned within the sessions to everyday life and parenting situations.


Who is Group Filial Therapy for?

This type of family therapy is suitable for children and families with a wide range of presenting issues as the  ‘client’ of the therapy is the relationship between the adults and the children rather than an individual within the family.  The  model is designed to teach and supervise family members to apply knowledge and skills what will help them resolve  their problems.

Group Filial Therapy is suitable for one or two parent families, with children aged between 3 and 12 years old. In two parent families, both parents are encouraged to take part in the training so they can both carry out play sessions at home with their children.

Group Filial Therapy can be used as a treatment for child and family problems, as well as a family enhancement intervention. Because it focuses on the positive aspects of what parents can do with children it is particularly beneficial for addressing difficulties associated with parental challenges and in this way contributes to the development of positive attachments as a whole.


What is the process?

What happens in Group Filial Therapy?

In the initial assessment phase the therapist spends time with the  parents/carers eliciting  their reasons for seeking support, obtaining a family and social history, and working to identify some goals and desired outcomes from the intervention.  Confidentiality is discussed and an explanation of the process given.

As part of this the therapist carries out a family play observation in which they gather information on the interactions between family members.  This  is then discussed with the parents in terms of how typical the interactions were and how behaviours exhibited resemble those at home or in other settings.  The therapist will then give any initial recommendations, relating them to the goals identified in the assessment process.

Following this the training section of the intervention takes place in which the therapist trains the group of parents in the four basic skills of: structuring, empathic listening, child-centred imaginative play and limit setting. These skills will be practised in mock play sessions.

Play sessions between the parent and child begin after the first six group sessions. Initially these take place in the presence of the therapist who observes and supports and gives feedback to the parent directly after the play session. Play sessions are transferred to the home after 6 parent-child play sessions. The group continues to meet, watch videos of each child’s play sessions, share experiences, develop and learn throughout these phases.

The final three weeks allow the play sessions to transition into the child’s home. The group meets and discusses the home play session videos. A generalisation of skills is also included in the group format at this stage.

The Group Filial Therapy programme last for 16 weeks (after assessment).

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