Play Therapy

The length and intensity of the therapy are dependent on the complexity of the reason for referral. Play Therapy sessions usually take place weekly and pending the child's age last between 45 to 60 minutes. A short-term intervention is typically 6-8 sessions, medium-term 10-16 sessions, and longer-term work 24+ sessions.

More information about intake for parents.

Children, young people and parents in person-centered play therapy

Therapy with children, young people and their parents can differ considerably from therapy processes with self-reflective adults who can talk about stresses and are able to take a 'bigger picture' position on how they feel, think and act. Children tend to express themselves through the symbolism of play. Once children are 11 or 12 years old including older teens, the way they connect with therapists gradually shifts. They become more talkative, sometimes playing games during the session to regulate the distance to the therapist and to their problem. They can shift and have the ability to take a 'bigger picture' view towards themselves and their problems but may need an active therapist than adults do in order to follow through an experiential process one on one with the therapist. How this work unfolds will be directed by the child or young person's needs at the time. The therapist and parents meet outside of these sessions. This approach is commonly called child-centered or humanistic therapy.


There are various different ways therapists can work with children, young people, and their families.  

Filial (Family) Therapy is one way that can be an extremely useful tool in helping children and families overcome or prevent problems that might otherwise weaken them. Filial Therapy teaches parents to conduct play sessions with their own children. Some of the tools and strategies learnt may support other aspects of parenting and or resolve the concerns they may have.

The core underpinnings of Filial Therapy are taking the essential conditions of humanistic play therapy and focusing on strengthening the relationship between the parent/s and child/ren. Filial Therapy helps parents build their confidence and competence. Becoming the agents of change and healing within the family. 

Filial Therapy aims to enhance each family member's self-concept through the use of acceptance, genuine respect, and empathy. 

Therapists' help parents:

  • learn how to respond to their child when they are experiencing 'big' emotions
  • learn how to set limits effectively in a gentle way, which preserves the young person's self-esteem
  • strengthen the bond they have with their child
  • better understand child behaviour
  • understand the interaction between the parent's internal state and the influence this has on their children's behaviour, and
  • manage their own responses to minimise child behavioural escalation.

Parents will feel better equipped to help their child:

  • mange their feelings and emotions in appropriate ways
  • strengthen their self-esteem and self-confidence
  • develop responsibility and self-control
  • become self-reliant and self-motivated
  • decrease anxiety, anger, sadness and other 'big' emotions.

For Filial Therapy to be effective as with all clinical interventions, the therapist must assess their capacity as well as the family circumstances and their ability before deeming it an appropriate way forward. The therapist will guide you through at the initial point of contact.

These sessions are guided not scripted. For more information contact POINTed.