Introduction to Filial Therapy



Filial (parent-child) Therapy is a highly effective (evidence-based) intervention fully integrating family therapy and play therapy to address child and family problems. Filial Therapy (FT) was co-created by Dr. Bernard Guerney and his wife, Dr. Louise Guerney, starting in the 1950s. It has been researched since its inception up to the current day. The instructor for this online course learned FT directly from the Guerneys and has over 38 years of experience using it with a wide range of child and family problems.

Filial Therapy simultaneously addresses child problems, helps parents develop effective ways of interacting with their children, and is designed to create healthy parent-child attachment relationships. In this 10-hour video-based course, Dr. VanFleet provides an overview of the entire process of Filial Therapy. The course shows how to train and supervise parents as they conduct special nondirective play sessions with their own children, and how to incorporate family issues in a mutual problem-solving process that benefits children and parents alike. Filial Therapy has been used successfully with a very wide range of child and family problems, including anxiety, depression, oppositional behaviors, impulse control, attention-deficit problems, families with children on the autism spectrum, traumatic events, child abuse, foster care, adoption, attachment disruptions or disorders. The course includes video lecture as well as considerable footage of parents and children throughout the process (with their permission). A required course text is additional.

CE Credits Available: 10

Required Text (sold separately):  VanFleet (2014). Filial Therapy: Strengthening Parent-Child Relationships Through Play (3rd ed.). Sarasota, FL: Professional Resource Press.


Instructor: Risë VanFleet, PhD, RPT-S, CDBC, Licensed Psychologist (PA)

Learning Objectives: Participants will be able to…
1. Describe at least 2 benefits that Filial Therapy might have over both individual play therapy and more traditional parenting skills programs and therapy.
2. Describe what happens at each stage of the Filial Therapy process.
3. Identify at least 3 child/family problems for which Filial Therapy is useful and why.
4. Explain the role of therapist modeling for parents in FT.
5. Describe the role of relationship in the healing process of FT.
6. Identify the different “roles” that the therapist plays during the training phase of FT.
7. Describe the basic outcome research findings pertaining to FT.
8. Explain how FT applies to diverse clients and cultures.

You will automatically receive access to the course materials upon completion of payment. Please make sure that you add to your address book or email whitelist.

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