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by Risë VanFleet
by Risë VanFleet

Filial Therapy: Strengthening Parent-Child Relationships Through Play (Third Edition)

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• 2014  118pp paperback   ISBN: 9781568871455
• A Practitioner's Resource Series Title

     Since the first edition of this book was first published in 1994, public and professional interest in Filial Therapy has grown substantially throughout the world.  Research on the approach continues to grow.  The third edition elaborates on the principles, values, and theories on which Filial Therapy is based and updates the research as well as the applications of the method to a wide range of presenting problems.  References have been updated, derivative formats have been included, and the method's multicultural value continues to be highlighted.
     Filial Therapy has been shown through 50 years of research and clinical experience to be an effective intervention for children and families experiencing a variety of social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties.  This unique therapy involves parents as the primary change agents to resolve child-related problems, to encourage children's healthy psychosocial development, and to strengthen entire families.  Filial therapists train and supervise parents as the parents conduct child-centered play sessions with their children, an approach that not only helps eliminate presenting problems but also strengthens parent-child and family relationships.  This guide covers the principles, theoretical foundations, research, concepts, and specific methods used in Filial Therapy.  Common problems are discussed, and one family's experience is followed throughout the course of therapy.

  • Ways to integrate Filial Therapy with other theories (i,e,. psychodynamic, humanistic, behavioral, interpersonal, cognitive, developmental/attachment, & family systems)
  • Basic skills and tools needed by therapists offering Filial Therapy, integrating parents into play sessions, selection of playroom toys, supervision of parents, and much much more.
  • Provides alternate formats for filial therapy (i.e., individual families, integration with other interventions, prevention programs, very brief formats, use with foster and adoptive families)
  • Applications to specialized populations of children (i.e., children of divorce, school problems, depressed, chronic illnesses, anxious & perfectionistic, elimination problems, addicted parents, attention deficit problems, abused/neglected, attachment disruptions & disorders, exposure to domestic violence, oppositional defiant disorders), military families, families with first responders, families experiencing traumatic events, multicultural applications, case studies, and much more.
"It is an honor to be asked to write the foreword for the third edition of Risë VanFleet's widely recognized Filial Therapy book.  Dr. VanFleet is the leading U.S. figure in the education and publishing of the Guerney Model of Filial Therapy.  The author has expanded and enhanced what was already a wonderful previous edition.  Outstanding is the revised section on "Theoretical Integration," in which she lays out the seven theoretical sources underlying the complex approach that is Filial Therapy.  She also gives a clear explanation of the psychoeducational approach, of which Filial Therapy is one of the first.  The many facets of Filial Therapy are made readily understandable.  The author uses case examples to clarify points.  Reading this book would allow those who wish to pursue the method, or brush up on its finer points, to do so.  Of course, additional training and supervision are highly recommended to become truly proficient.  Dr. VanFleet's focus is on Filial Therapy for individual families.  In addition, she explains how to adapt the model for application with children and families with special clinical issues.  She emphasizes the value of working with as many family members as possible (including siblings)  to attain the best outcomes.  Experienced or new to Filial Therapy, a therapist will find many touches not found elsewhere.  I can recommend this book without reservation to professionals seeking an efficient, effective method for working with families.  Dr. VanFleet presents a convincing rationale, as well as detailed guidance on how to apply the model for therapeutic or preventive purposes, in clinical or educational settings.  In this volume, of readable size, Dr. VanFleet packs in all the essential information the Filial Therapist will need."
Louise Guerney, PhD, RPT-S  Professor Emerita, The Pennsylvania State University, North Bethesda, MD

"The third edition of this book solidifies its standing as the primary resource for those interested in the theory and practice of Filial Therapy.  It first provides readers with a basic theoretical and research foundation upon which to base interventions.  It then goes goes on to detail the Filial Therapy method.  Lastly, it discusses ways the method can be adapted to suit the needs of multiple special populations.  An essential resource.
     -Kevin O'Connor, PhD, RPT-S, Distinguished Professor, Clinical PHD and Clinical PsyD programs, and Director, Ecosystems Play Therapy Training Center, California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University

An absolute must-have book for those interested in working with families with young children.  The book is clear, concise, and easy to read; yet, offers a comprehensive guide to conducting Filial Therapy.  This is an excellent resource for both novice and experienced Filial Therapists, providing clear instructions and case examples for each phase of treatment as well as ideas for addressing common problems in each phase and a description of possible adaptations of the approach for different audiences.
     Filial Therapy, a play-based and relationship-focused treatment, offers family therapists and play therapists a structured and straightforward approach to treating children in the context of the parent-child relationship.  In this book Dr. VanFleet outlines how to effectively attend to the unique treatment needs of children while also attending to broader family systems issues.
Glade L. Topham, PhD, LMFT, Program Coordinator, Marriage and Family Therapy program and Associate Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, Oklahoma State University

"Dr. VanFleet’s third edition of her Filial Therapy book continues to be a labor of love: First for the Guerneys who developed this model and sought to empower parents by giving them skill sets that produce positive change in the parent-child relationship; and secondly, for Filial Therapy, one of the most effective approaches to relationship enhancement.  This edition asserts the credibility and applicability of this evidence- and practice-informed model, and shows it has great potential to help with an array of contemporary challenges faced by children and their families.  Dr. VanFleet has the kind of passion and clarity that combine to create accessible and inspiring reading for novice and veteran clinicians.
     -Eliana Gil, PhD, Founding Partner, Gil Institute for Trauma Recovery and Education, Fairfax, Virginia

"In this handy and concise book, Risë VanFleet has made it easy for the novice as well as experienced practitioners to grasp Filial Therapy and integrate this powerful and effective approach with children and families.  This up-to-date edition includes a rich description of the theoretical approaches that have informed Filial Therapy and how they are integrated.  It has retained the essential features that clearly explain the values and principles, methods, and applications of Filial Therapy.  Given my more than 40 years of clinical practice applying Filial Therapy, I am amazed at how much useful information Dr. VanFleet has packed into this slim book."
Barry G. Ginsberg, PhD, Executive Director of the Center of Relationship Enhancement (CORE), Author of  Relationship Enhancement Family Therapy and 50 Wonderful Ways to Be a Single-Parent

Dr. VanFleet has written a brilliant book that distills the essence of Filial Therapy.  Her writing is clear and practical, with step-by-step directions for teaching parents Filial Therapy and case studies that illuminate the process.  I especially like the way she has included information on Filial Therapy research, alternative formats for Filial Therapy, and application to special populations."
     -Terry Kottman, PhD, RPT-S, NCC, LMHC, Director, The Encouragement Zone, Cedar Falls, Iowa, Author of Partners in Play: An Adlerian Approach to Play Therapy & Play Therapy: Basics and Beyond

Summary of Table of Contents (Primary Headings Only)
Background Filial Therapy Research • Child-Centered Play Sessions • Child & Family Assessment for Filial Therapy • Parent Training Phase of Filial Therapy • Parents' Initial Play Session • Continuing Play Sessions under Direct Supervision • The Transfer of Play Sessions to the Home Setting • Home Play Sessions & the Generalization of Skills • The Closing Phase of Filial Therapy • Alternative Formats for Filial Therapy • Other Filial Therapy-Derived or-Inspired Programs & Adaptations • Applications of Filial Therapy to Specialized Populations • Multicultural Applicability of Filial Therapy • Developing Competence in Filial Therapy • References

CE Program
A supplemental 4-credit/hour, 40-question continuing education program is available for this book.  To order the complete program (this book and CE test module, or test module alone if you already have access to this book), click here: Filial Therapy: Strengthening Parent-Child Relationships Through Play (Third Edition) - CE Program (4 Credits/Hours)

For information about our approved continuing education sponsorships
and acceptance by state, please click here: Continuing Education

About the Author
Risë VanFleetPhD, RPT-S, CDBC, is founder and President of the Family Enhancement & Play Therapy Center in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, an organization specializing in the training and supervision of child, family, and play therapy professionals.  A licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania, Dr. VanFleet is also a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor and a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.  She is a Past President/Board Chair of the Association for Play Therapy. She specializes in strengthening family relationships, and has subspecialties in chronic medical illness, disaster mental health, child/family trauma and attachment, and animal-assisted play therapy.  She is well-known internationally as a speaker, teacher, and author.  Dr. VanFleet has 40 years of clinical, supervisory, and leadership experience in community mental health, health care, education, and independent practice settings.  She has trained and supervised thousands of clinicians, and her materials have been used by professionals and families in over 60 countries.

VanFleet has been honored with numerous regional and national awards: Distinguished Contributions to the Science and Profession of Psychology Award (Pennsylvania Psychological Association), Play Therapy Professional Education and Training Award (Association for Play Therapy), Guerney Award for Outstanding Contributions to Practice and Training in Filial Therapy (Association for Filial and Relationship Enhancement Methods), among others.  She has also received several major national awards for her writing.  She has authored dozens of books, manuals, chapters, and articles, including A Parent's Handbook of Filial Therapy, Casebook of Filial Therapy (with Louise Guerney), Child-Centered Play Therapy (with Andrea Sywulak and Cynthia Sniscak),
Play Therapy With Kids & Canines, and The Human Half of Dog Training.  She is featured on four DVD workshops, including Filial Play Therapy (American Psychological Association).

Dr. VanFleet is the founder of the Playful Pooch Program, through which she has been involved in the development, practice, ethics, research, and training in Animal Assisted Play Therapy.  In addition to her professional work with children, families, and dogs, she is an accomplished pianist and an award winning nature photographer specializing in Alaskan wildlife.  She can be contacted through her website:

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