For Professionals


in Filial Therapy

Currently, the Family Enhancement and Play Therapy Center offers certifications in Filial Therapy.  The requirements and process are outlined below.  People who attend our Intensive Filial Therapy Training Program or the more advanced Filial Therapy trainings automatically receive information about this certification program.

 Please Note:  If you are interested in a more general play therapy credential, the Registered Play Therapist or Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor, please visit the Association for Play Therapy website.  All of our training programs and video workshops meet the requirements for this credential as well.

About Certification in Filial Therapy

Certification in filial therapy is a credential which shows that you have achieved proficiency and specialized competency in this field.  Certification shows that you have had extensive training, supervision, and experience in filial play therapy.  The Certified Filial Therapist has demonstrated competence in this family therapy/play therapy approach, and we will work with you to help you achieve this credential.  (Please note:  Many of the requirements for this certification parallel those for the Association for Play Therapy’s Registered Play Therapist credential and can be used for both.)

The following certifications are available:
• Filial Play Associate
• Filial Therapist
• Filial Therapy Instructor


This certification is designed to establish a stringent and meaningful credential for professionals using Filial Therapy. Its purpose is to demonstrate to consumers and referral sources that a person has achieved a high level of training, experience, and competence in the practice of Filial Therapy. (The specific licensing laws of the candidate’s state, province, or country govern the independent practice of mental health and must be followed; this certification has no impact or authority in that arena.)

The Filial Therapy Certification is a competence-based credential. As such, it is awarded to professionals who have clearly demonstrated their ability to conduct Filial Therapy. The requirements for certification listed herein are guidelines toward achieving that competence but should not be viewed as “absolutes.” The over-riding requirement is demonstrated competence.

The requirements for certification are listed below. The Family Enhancement and Play Therapy Center, Inc. offers training and supervision that meet these requirements. If you have any questions about your own background and equivalent training/experience you’ve had, please contact us early in the application process.


Applicants must have a Master’s degree or higher from an accredited institution in a mental health, medical, or educational profession and demonstrate a well-rounded background in child development, clinical intervention, and family systems. Graduate coursework (or its equivalent in workshops) is expected in the following subject areas:

Child Development
Family Development
Intervention Theories and Techniques
Family Therapy from a Systemic Perspective
Basic Research Methods/Outcome Evaluation


A clinical or counseling license to practice in their state, province, or country usually demonstrates that applicants have sufficient general practice experience. In general, applicants for Filial Therapy Certification will have approximately 2 years of post-master’s experience, although they may take the trainings and supervised practice leading up to the FT Certification before achieving this level of experience.

Sequence of Training and Supervision Requirements

Nondirective play therapy
~21-25 hours
Successful completion of a university course or intensive training, or its equivalent
Completion of one or both of the following educational resources:

Wilson & Ryan book: Nondirective Play Therapy
VanFleet DVD workshop: Child-Centered Play Therapy

Supervised practice of nondirective/child-centered play therapy
2 children with at least 10-12 sessions each (need not be “clinical” cases)
With live or videotaped supervision/consultation from a pre-approved supervisor

Introduction to Filial Therapy (overview and basic practice)
~12 hours
2-day introductory training in Filial Therapy + VanFleet book (Filial Therapy)
Or VanFleet DVD workshop + VanFleet book (Filial Therapy) + completed CE exam

Intensive Filial Therapy Training Program (how to conduct it)
~27 hours
Prerequisites: Training and supervised experience with nondirective play therapy; Introduction to FTcourse and/or DVD-book option
4-day training with experienced Filial Therapist who has completed the Instructor Training or its equivalent (must include all elements of original Guerney model)

Supervised practice of Filial Therapy
Prequisites: Extensive Introductory Course in FT and/or the Intensive FT Training Program
6-7 families, with portions of each supervised, live or via video

Advanced Filial Therapy Training Program (complex problems, adaptations)
~16 hours
Prerequisites: Intensive FT Training Program plus supervised practice with several families
2-day training + VanFleet/Guerney book (Casebook of FT)

Certification (based on demonstrated competence)

  • Submit completed application form and fee
  • Submit cases on DVD, as specified below
  • Complete examination 
  • Submit references from supervisors of nondirective play therapy and Filial Therapy practice

Application Process 

Application Documents:
Once you have completed all of the requirements, obtain the application packet from the Family Enhancement & Play Therapy Center, complete and submit it with the required documentation and fees.

The Family Enhancement & Play Therapy Center will notify you within approximately 1 month if your application meets the basic requirements or will inform you of any areas needing further work or documentation.

Video/DVD Submission:
After notification that your documents are complete, you will be asked to submit videotaped segments of your work with children and families. Approximately 7 hours of videotape are required:

  • Videos of 2 different child-centered play therapy cases, 2 half-hour sessions each (total of 1 hour per case)
  • Videos of 2 different Filial Therapy cases. For each case: 
    • 1 training (mock play) session (~1⁄2 hour per case)
    • 1 supervised Filial play session and discussion, early in therapy (~1 hour/case)
    • 1 supervised Filial play sessions and discussion, later in therapy (~1 hr/case)
  • If your supervision is completed with the Family Enhancement & Play Therapy Center, then these requirements may be decreased to 1 child-centered play therapy case and 1 Filial Therapy case.

You will be asked to complete a brief essay examination that requires you to integrate and apply information about Filial Therapy. This assessment is straightforward and is a “take-home” type examination. A grade of 85% or higher is necessary for certification.

A nonrefundable application fee of $450 is required. Although application does not guarantee certification, we will work with you to overcome obstacles and assist you in the process. If you are uncertain about your credentials, training, and supervised experience, you may contact us for a preliminary, informal review for a fee of $50. Quick questions are answered at no charge.

If your application, videos/DVDs, and examination meet the requirements, you will receive your certificate in approximately 6 weeks. If there are deficiencies, we will be glad to work closely with you, within reason, to help you reach certification status. To avoid a reapplication process, you will need to reach certification status within 2 years of your initial application.

Please direct questions to Dr. Risë VanFleet at 717-249-4707 or rise@risevanfleet.com.

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