Theraplay® – The Practitioner’s Guide


SKU: 9781785922107 Categories: , , , ,

The Definitive Guide to Theraplay® for Practitioners, officially endorsed by the Theraplay® Institute

Theraplay is an intervention that focuses on enhancing the connection, trust and joy between a child and a parent. It involves interactive, playful activities using simple face-to- face reciprocal interactions, and involves using all of the senses, including rhythm, movement and touch.

This comprehensive guide outlines the theory, reflection, and skill development of the practitioner – the true power house of Theraplay. By maintaining a focus on practice throughout, embedding theory into practice examples, it brings the spirit of Theraplay to life. Part 1 covers the key principles of the intervention; Part 2 addresses Theraplay in Practice: how to use the Marschak Interaction Method (MIM), how to set up a room and choose activities and considerations for working with different client groups; Part 3 encourages the reader to engage in their own development and the stages involved; and Parts 4 and 5 provide a wealth of useful resources, checklists, handouts, sample sessions and an up-to-date list of Theraplay activities. Whether you are a Theraplay practitioner, or simply want to find out how this remarkable intervention works, this book is essential reading.


  • Acknowledgements
  • Foreword
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Theraplay General Principles
  • 3. Intake
  • 4. MIM
  • 5. Theraplay sessions: getting prepared
  • 6. Theraplay session with children
  • 7. Working with parents
  • 8. Complex parents
  • 9. Theraplay outtakes-what no one ever tells you
  • 10. Developmental phases
  • 11. Overcoming common barriers to practising Theraplay
  • 12. The Theraplay supervision process – A journey of a lifetime
  • 13. MIM assessment form completed example
  • 14. Dyadic session supervision form completed example
  • 15. Sample Phyllis Booth supervision feedback notes
  • 16. How do you know you’ve reached Foundational level: TTI session 8 guidelines
  • Part Four RESOURCES
  • 17. Sample session plans for various types of children
  • 18. What Lies Underneath a Parent’s Defensive Statement
  • 19. Intake guidelines
  • 20. When should you talk about stuff in Theraplay?
  • 21. Example of combining approaches
  • 22. Thinking about sensory regulation and Theraplay
  • 23. What is Theraplay-«? A Brief Guide for Parents
  • 24. List of Theraplay activities
  • Glossary
  • References

Author Bio:

Dr. Vivien Norris is a consultant clinical psychologist, music therapist and certified Theraplay-« practitioner, trainer and supervisor. She is the UK Theraplay-« Training Director, and lives in Hay on Wye, UK.

Dafna Lender, LCSW, is the Program Director for The Theraplay Institute in Evanston, IL. Dafna is certified as a trainer and supervisor in both Theraplay and Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP). She is based in Illnois, USA.


In Theraplay: The Practitioner’s Guide, Vivien Norris and Dafna Lender skilfully and comprehensively explain the essential principles of Theraplay. Theraplay is an efficient mode of therapy for children that seamlessly incorporates within a play environment several elements that are shared with models of psychotherapy. In the Guide, we learn about efficient exercises that are effective in enhancing the child’s ability to regulate state can be delivered as games; we learn that Theraplay is rooted in developmental science (e.g., attachment theory) and is consistent with contemporary neuroscience (e.g., Polyvagal Theory). From a Polyvagal perspective Theraplay respects the biobehaviour state of the child, applies therapist initiated social engagement strategies to trigger a state of safety in the child, and promotes synchronous reciprocal interactions as a neural exercise that increases social flexibility and improves emotion regulation. It is through this development of the child’s ability to feel safe and secure that is key to Theraplay’s efficacy and functionally illustrates the attributes of Theraplay as a model therapy for children.