Filial therapy is the foundation for the CPRT and includes parent meetings to provide mutual support in parenting. Parent-child therapy is a play-based parenting education model. It also includes parent meetings and child play training. The correct play format is critical as play is a safe environment for children to communicate with their parents. Play therapy is child-centered, and the task of parents is to respond more effectively to the emotional and behavioral needs of children. CPRT is especially suitable for children who have experienced challenging life events. CPRT helps parents develop the right emotional relationship with their children. The CPRT also trains parents in effective communication skills with their children.
CPRT has taken an innovative model of parenting education as a basis. Bernard and Louise Gurney developed this model in the mid-1960s. Gurney believed the essence of the concept was that the relationship between parents and children is of primary importance. The concept also assumes that all parents can learn the necessary skills to become therapeutic agents for their children. Gurney used the term filial therapy for their new concept. In the 1980s, Harry Landreth developed the structured and concise 10-session filial therapy training format used today. Landreth believed that the 10-session format would reduce time and financial constraints and help increase parental involvement. Therefore, today at the CPRT, parents are taught Child-Centered Play Therapy (CCPT) principles. Parents use these principles in supervised play sessions. Landreth and Bratton later formalized the 10-session teaching model in ChildParenting Therapy (CPRT): A 10-Session Filial Therapy Model.
The goal of the CPRT is to improve the well-being of the child, guardian, and guardian-child relationship. At the same time, relationships are seen as a means of change. Better relationships are needed to increase trust, safety, and intimacy in the attention dyad and then between other family members. Increasing trust, warmth, and affection will help family members improve communication, problem-solving strategies, and expression of love and family pleasure. Parents are taught CCPT skills to achieve this common goal. These skills are used in weekly games. The support group format helps parents understand their own experiences and needs and the mutual influence on relationships with children. Children’s goals in the CPRT are that in play and safe relationships, children can express their needs and feelings, including repressed feelings and tension. As a result, children learn to discover the most appropriate and satisfying ways of expressing, regulating, and satisfying their needs.
Role of the Therapist
The CPRT therapist must be a licensed mental health professional. He must also receive CPRT training. The role of the therapist in CPRT is to educate and supervise parents in their efforts. The therapist should be a highly-skilled group facilitator, play therapy coach, supervisor, and error-prone mentor. Another task of the therapist is to create a safe, supportive environment for parents in parenting meetings and support group discussions. The therapist teaches parents the skills and principles of CCPT. Next, the therapist demonstrates how to conduct special play activities with children. The therapist then performs direct observation of the play sessions of the parents and children. Landreth and Bratton, authors of the 10-session learning model, recommend that therapists use co-leaders to master the roles.
Nate’s Clinical Case and Selected Tools to Help
Nate is six years old; he lives in a family with his mother, who brings him up alone. Ms. C., Nate’s mother, is a single, 30-year-old European-American graduate student. She referred Nate to the clinic for a behavior problem. In her opinion, Nate is a gifted child, but also angry, manipulative, oppositional, and uncontrollable. Ms. C. has had financial and personal difficulties. She blamed Nate for her overwhelming suffering. Ms. C. divorced Nate’s African American father when Nate was three years old. She reported a hostile relationship with her ex-husband, who now lived out of state and rarely saw her son. Ms. C. believes that Nate struggled with being biracial and that his behavior resulted from anger towards his father.
An assessment of the family’s clinical needs revealed critical problems in the mother-son relationship. Nate’s behavioral problems stem from his emotional reaction to rejection and lack of warmth from Ms. C. was taught basic CCPT skills such as following a child’s example, reflecting feelings, and reflecting the verbal and non-verbal content of the child’s play. She was taught to act from four “be-with” positions: (1) “I am here,” (2) “I hear you,” (3) “I understand,” and (4) “I care.” Nate preferred to use a loud blaster for the game, but after constructive dialogue about the feelings of Ms. C. And when she accepted his anger at her, Nate began to take an interest in more casual games. Nate can continue to play in noisy and moderately aggressive games, like playing with a blaster, and in quiet games, like drawing on the board.