Book Review: Theraplay® The Practitioner’s Guide

Theraplay® The Practitioner’s Guide

This Guide is fabulous and the Theraplay® community surely are very appreciative of this rich work Vivien Norris and Dafna Lender have created.

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

For practitioners it is astounding to have all this wealth of knowledge and experience in The Guide which is written in a delightfully engaging manner. It takes one through the Nuts & Bolts of Intake, how to implement the unique Marchak Interaction Method (MIM) assessment tool, right through to the chapter devoted to Outtakes & Bloopers-What No One Ever Told You. This chapter will make you laugh and maybe cry especially as most of our sessions are caught on video. The Guide takes one further into the ‘how to’ of becoming a Theraplay® practitioner. Plus leading the practitioner to overcoming common barriers and the Supervision Process: A Journey of a Lifetime. The chapter incorporates samples of completed Supervision forms to reduce anxiety of completing them for your supervisor!  Included are also sample sessions for different types of clients whether it be the child, or the parent. Most situations are covered including the common dreaded one, of how to deal with a parent’s defensiveness? Plus 161 Theraplay activities, 46 new activities coupled with 115 from the third edition of Theraplay: Helping Parents and Children Build Better Relationships Through Attachment Based Play (Booth and Jernberg, 2010). The activities are organized alphabetically in Theraplay’s Dimensions: Structure, Engagement, Nurture and Challenge. Each activity also has suggested appropriate chronologically or developmental age levels.

One comprehensive guide! What more would one want?

There is profound wisdom captured in The Guide which expands on much of the real essence of Theraplay®, richly described in practical ways, through Vivien & Dafna’s years of personal experiences. The case studies, which feel real and honest, include all the problem solving, troubleshooting and countertransference that we experience. This gives The Guide enormous credibility that we need to seek but don’t always find.

For readers new to Theraplay®, The Guide will inspire you to learn more and embrace the depth of what Theraplay® can offer as a treatment for parents/career and children, to build healthy relationships especially for those who have experienced trauma and other adverse childhood experiences. The possibilities are endless!

Experienced practitioners will find The Guide the comprehensive ‘go to’ guide. Whether you are a bit unsure, searching for inspiration or want to confirm your thinking and analysis. It will undoubtedly confirm and expand one’s thinking and encourage personal reflections. 

I refer to The Guide often in my work. There is layer upon layer of vital information throughout, including current neuroscience and the theory and growing evidence base underpinning our work, to confidently guide our practice. 

I whole heartedly recommend this Guide and hope you are joyfully engaged and re-energized to keep your passion alive!

Reviewed by Kathryn Lewer, Australia's first accredited trainer in Theraplay® and Sunshine Circles®.

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