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FILIAL THERAPY: How it is done and Its Benefits

How FILIAL THERAPY is done and its Benefits

          Filial therapy (FT) derived from the Latin word filios or filias meaning sons and daughters, translated to English to mean parent-child.

Filial therapy also known as child relationship enhancement  was developed in the 1960s  by famous psychologists Bernard and Louise guerney to improve parent-child relationships by allowing the child to get concentrated attention from the parent therefore reducing anxiety, miscommunicating behavior and stress in the child. It is mostly used for children between the ages of 2 and 12 who need the parental attention the most to develop strong emotional bonds and cub anxiety disorders.

Filial therapy usually take 3-6months to complete and there are also follow-up sessions by the therapist. It may be structured in different ways to meet different circumstances. It may be a group therapy with many parents and many children and it may also be individual a just a parent and their child. The initial stage of the therapy entails the parent being taught the basic skills and practicing them severally before they can do them with the child. This initial introduction may take 3-4 weeks. The parent after will start practicing these skills with their child the same time, on the same day and the same place every week. The therapist will once in a while join and the parent and the therapist, while the child is take care of by another adult, will talk about how the therapist is paying keep interest in the positive points and maybe a few difficulties and/ or questions. The therapy continues for as long as necessary or for as long as the child wants.

Filial therapy’s main objectives include but not limited to:

  • Improve parenting skills.
  • Reduce child anxiety and stress symptoms
  • Strengthen the parent-child bond and relationship
  • Improve the child’s self- esteem
  • Parent learns to set specific limits
  • Results in an environment where the young-one starts to feel loved and appreciated
  • The child begins to express themselves in a social acceptable manner
  • Promotes healing from past traumas
  • Allows the children to express their feelings.

Every therapist performing FFT should know that:

-Empathy is very critical for the growth and change of the child. They should be trained to offer empathy to both the adult and child alike. The therapist would never condone a parent  spanking the child but they should be more concerned about the feelings of frustration that caused the parent to behave that way. This understanding of the parent’s feelings will be more effective in changing the parent and the therapy will therefore be more efficient.

– The whole family should be involved as many times as possible. Both parents should be involved and should observe each other’s sessions and feedback. Reluctant parents should be advised on the positive impact their involvement will have on the child.

-In the early stages the therapist should provide live supervision for the parent because most parents don’t know how to be patient as the therapy goes on and will learn a new skill once and then say it didn’t work.

– The therapist should first explain the skill, demonstrate it, watch it implemented then ask for the feedback.

– The parent(s) are partners not subjects of the therapy.

To conclude filial therapy is very important and when do properly and attentively it works. It is most crucial for children who have undergone traumatic experiences like loss of a parent, physical abuse, fighting between their parents and disasters that contributed to loss of a home. Children who are not able to properly express their feelings should also have the therapy.


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