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THERAPLAY®  is an Attachment-Based therapeutic approach using structured play to help children and their families.  It has been used effectively since it was first developed in the late 1960s by Ann Jernberg and others at the Theraplay Institute in Chicago.  Theraplay has been utilized in schools, day care centers, child guidance clinics, speech clinics, and in private practice in the United States, Canada, Australia, Austria, England, Finland, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Sweden, and other countries around the world. Its primary applications have been with children who have behavior problems (particularly withdrawn and overactive children), speech and language problems,  physical challenges, children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and children experiencing difficulties related to adoption. In recent years, Theraplay principles have also found applications in geriatric settings.

THERAPLAY looks to healthy parent-child interaction as a guide for helping understand children's needs and potentials for positive emotional development. Theraplay sessions are active, intense, physical, nurturing, and fun.  Parents usually are included in the process from the beginning, and often join in the play sessions later. In school settings, Theraplay can be incorprated in individual and group counseling as well as in typical clasroom settings to promote prosocial behavior. Theraplay experiences are structured, nurturing, engaging and challenging.  For professionals as well as clients, theraplay can be refreshing and rewarding because of its emphasis on engaging, healthy and constructive social interactions.

THERAPLAY is currently under review for the National Register of Evidence-based Programs and Practices.
Here are a few resources for those interested in learning more about Theraplay®:

CLICK HERE for a short movie explaining Theraplay

Bundy-Myrow, S.  (2000) Group Theraplay for children with Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder. In  E. Munns (ed.), Theraplay: Innovations in Attachment-Enhancing Play Therapy. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 301-320.

Jernberg, Ann.  (1982).  Therapeutic use of sensory motor play.  In C. Schaefer,  & K. O'Connor (Eds.).  Handbook of Play Therapy. NY:  John Wiley, 128-147.

Booth, P.  and Jernberg, A. (2010).  Theraplay:  Helping Parents and Children Build Better Relationships through Attachment-Based Play(3rd edition)  CA: Jossey-Bass.

Bundy-Myrow, S. (2005). Theraplay® for children with self-regulation problems. In C. Schaefer, McCormick & A. Ohnogi (Eds.), International Handbook of Play Therapy: Advances in Assessment, Theory, Research, and Practice. (pp. 35-64).New York: Jason Aronson Inc.

Bundy-Myrow, S. J. (2012) Family Theraplay: Connecting With Children on the Autism Spectrum. In Gallo-Lopez, L. and Rubin, L.C. (Eds.), Play-Based Interventions for Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders. NY: Routledge, 73-96.

Myrow, D.L. (2016) Enjoying Theraplay with school-age children.  In A. A. Drewes and C.E.Schaefer (Eds), Play Therapy in Middle Childhood. Washington, DC:American Psychological Association, 115-133.

Useful Resources

Susan Bundy-Myrow, Ph.D.
& David L. Myrow, Ph.D.



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