“Theraplay is a child and family therapy for building and enhancing attachment, self-esteem, trust in others, and joyful engagement. It is based on the natural patterns of playful, healthy interaction between parent and child and is personal, physical, and fun. Theraplay interactions focus on four essential qualities found in parent-child relationships: Structure, Engagement, Nurture, and Challenge. Theraplay sessions create an active, emotional connection between the child and parent or caregiver, resulting in a changed view of the self as worthy and lovable and of relationships as positive and rewarding.

In treatment, the Theraplay Practitioner guides the parent and child through playful, fun games, developmentally challenging activities, and tender, nurturing activities. The very act of engaging each other in this way helps the parent regulate the child’s behavior and communicate love, joy, and safety to the child. It helps the child feel secure, cared for, connected and worthy.”


Shakti understands that committing to therapy for your child is a major decision, often made when the family is in crises or has “tried everything else.” One of the major advantages of Theraplay is that change can happen very quickly once treatment begins.

Your first appointment is an information-gathering interview, preferably with all parents. Next, we ask you and your child to complete a set of simple tasks together, such as make two toy animals play with each other. This is called the Marschak Interaction Method (MIM) assessment. The MIM is videotaped, and your therapist will look at the video in preparation for your next appointment at which time you and your therapist will discuss the interaction between you and your child and the therapist’s recommendation for treatment.

At your next session, your therapist will demonstrate with you the Theraplay activities in order to familiarize you with what to expect. Theraplay activities are playful and fun, and done in combinations that focus on your child’s needs for structure, engagement, nurture and challenge—the four Theraplay dimensions.

Then, Theraplay treatment begins with your child. After every three or four Theraplay sessions, your therapist will meet with you without your child to discuss progress and goals and to help you support the Theraplay treatment at home.

Typically, the total number of sessions is 19-28, with four follow-up sessions over the next year.